Southeastern Louisiana University’s Sustainability Center has been recognized by the Environmental Leadership Program national organization for its pollution prevention and commitment to environmental protection. Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Chuck Carr Brown, who served on the selection committee, will present the award to Southeastern Physical Plant Director Byron Patterson and Sustainability Manager Alejandro Martinez in Baton Rouge at the ELP Awards ceremony.
Southeastern has been focusing on conservation efforts, from the new geothermal energy projects on campus to wind turbines at Southeastern’s Sustainability Center. The center was created in order to save operating dollars and reduce waste going to landfills, while at the same time providing an invaluable learning component for students involved in energy, mechanical and construction engineering technology.
“Southeastern’s newest residence halls, Ascension Hall and Twelve Oaks Hall, draw from 220 geothermal wells situated 300 feet underground to heat and cool 556 rooms,” Martinez said. “The earth is used as a heat source in winter and as heat storage in summer. Geothermal production involves no combustion and creates zero air emissions as gases removed from the wells are returned into the ground after giving up their heat without exposure to the atmosphere.”
In addition to environmental benefits, Martinez explained, the geothermal hybrid system will significantly cut down on heating and cooling costs.
“Over time, it is projected that savings greater than 50 percent will be captured on energy expenses compared to a traditional method and build,” he said. “Equally important on a university campus, the system also serves as a learning laboratory for real-world experiences for Southeastern students in various disciplines.”
Among the elements of the Sustainability Center are solar panels on a number of university buildings that generate hot water, as well as electricity; a strong recycling program designed to reduce waste going to landfills by 80 percent; a tree and plant farm, in which the university cultivates its own plants and trees for landscaping on campus; a composting area that converts landscape waste into usable mulch and compost; and rainwater retention ponds that provide irrigation for plants and support a geothermal system for one of the center’s technology-rich classrooms.
Since beginning single-stream recycling in 2012, the university has recycled 255.94 tons of paper, plastics and metal cans. Approximately 99.185 tons of cardboard have been recycled since Southeastern installed a cardboard baler in 2013. And, since collaborating with Print Cartridge Recyclers of America in 2014, the university has collected approximately 5.17 tons of used print cartridges and packaging for recycling.
For more information about Southeastern’s Sustainability Center, go to www.southeastern.edu/sustainability.