Friday, August 6, 2010

ASU Among Top Green Universities

Congratulations to Arizona State University for being ranked as one of the top "Greenest Universities" as well as being on the "Green Honor Roll" according to the Princeton Review. ASU has received recognition like this for the past three years.
Don't get me wrong, I love my Alma Mater and am proud to have graduated from such a highly praised university for sustainability but that doesn't stop me from questioning how green ASU really is. Living on campus for three of the four years I attended ASU, I noticed many practices which were not eco-friendly. Through this post I want to highlight some areas which ASU lacks in sustainability and offer recommendations to further their green initiatives as well highlight some initiatives they are taking.

Areas of in Need  of Improvement

Unregulated HVAC in student housing- Of course it's nice to be able to control the temperature in your dorm room but it takes a large toll on the environment. Since most student housing has a set price every semester, students are not aware of how much energy they are consuming for HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). As of now most thermostats in dorms range from anywhere from 50 degrees to 90 degrees Farenheit. Think about it, does someone really need their room that cold or hot? ASU monitors thermostats in buildings and classrooms so they should also regulate thermostats in the dorms to save on energy costs and reduce harmful exhaust which damage the environment.

Feral Cats- Although I am a animal rights activist, I am against all the cats which roam around ASU particularly near housing and food areas. The dumpsters attract the cats, the cats breed, and then there are more cats; this cycle continuously happens. These cats are feral meaning they have no shots, can be infected by rabies, and carry other diseases. Cats feces are then left near buildings and not picked up, which is unsanitary for humans to breathe. It gets into HVAC and can cause sickness in residents. Animal feces not picked up from the ground pollute ground water with chemicals (recall the post on how to green your pet). ASU should partner with a shelter or organization to either remove the cats or neuter them.

Lack of Recycling Bins- There were not really recycling bins around ASU until two years ago when the Undergraduate Student government spent their budget on them. In large buildings there are bins to separate paper, plastic, and aluminum but in most classrooms and dorms there is only paper recycling bins. Where I lived on campus for two years there was cardboard boxes for paper recycling, which yes is better than nothing. But whenever I walked by there was much more than paper inside, mostly just trash. I think ASU needs to put recycling bins for paper, plastic, and aluminum in every building on every floor to make it easy for people to recycle. In addition they need to monitor what is going into these bins and keep up with emptying the bins. 

On the other hand, ASU is taking many green initiatives:
  • Providing buses between all three campuses: Main, West, and East
  • Installing timers on lighting in hallways
  • Providing bike racks near all buildings
  • LEED certified buildings
  • Offering the first Graduate program to study Sustainability
Overall, ASU is taking great strides to be a eco-friendly and has plans to be carbon neutral in the near future. Since they have been recognized for three consecutive years, it is important to consider both sides of the story. ASU has some environmental practices which need to be addressed but I have faith they will solve these problems and continue to be among the top green universities. Congratulations once again ASU but remember to continue your dedication to the environment.

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  1. I understand this post may cause some controversy so please try keep comments constructive and understand I am just showing both sides of a story. Thank you

  2. Hey, Alessa! Actually, those blue "paper" bins in classrooms are for commingled recycling ( ASU is working on making more/better signage so people start to get the message. You can recycle paper, books, milk cartons, juice boxes, cans, bottles (plastic & glass), other plastic food packaging, and now even soft plastic (like wraps and bags). Throw it all in there! We'll take it!