A comprehensive timeline of many of the initiatives, programs, centers, and similar advancements made on the part of Michigan State University in the field of environmental stewardship.
Created by Nick_the_journalist on Apr 28, 2011
Last updated: 05/04/11 at 09:08 PM
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The Bott Building for Nursing and Education will be the first building on campus to harness geothermal energy to power itself. According to Jennifer Battle, the assistant director of the Office of Campus Sustainability, the plant will be a test, being the first geothermal plant on MSU's campus. According to Battle the administration is always looking for new technology to improve sustainability and geothermal fit with the project location.
The Energy Transition Steering Committee was called by the administration to address the issue of MSU's energy future. The committee consists of students, faculty, and experts in the field. The committee is looking at what sources of energy should be used to power the campus, how many sources of energy should be used, how much energy should come from each source, when these sources could or should be implemented, and similar questions.
Zipcar is a car sharing program that is in its pilot stages at MSU, but has been implemented on dozens of campuses and cities across the nation. There are currently six Zipcars on campus, each one available to rent online by any student, faculty members, or community member with a membership. According to Jennifer Battle, the assistant director of the Office of Campus Sustainability, the goal of Zipcar is to reduce the amount of cars on the road at MSU which will in turn reduce emissions, reduce traffic, and hopefully reduce the amount of accidents on campus.
This is just one in a long list of specializations and majors the University has started up on campus to raise environmental awareness among students and empower them to do and learn more.
In 2009 a University Sustainability Systems team put forth the recommendation to look into a car sharing program. Various programs were investigated, interviewed, and it was decided that Zipcar was the best program for Michigan State, according to Mary Lindsey-Frary, Environmental Coordinator with the Environmental Health and Safety Department on campus.
in 2009 solar panels were installed at the Surplus and Recycling Center. These panels supply 10% of the electricity needed to power both of the buildings. According to Jennifer Battle, the assistant director of the Office of Campus Sustainability, the university is always looking for opportunities to implement new technology. The administration is looking for ways to power MSU into the future.
The recycling center, which has since been built, houses recycling, the surplus store, Surplus Storage Solutions, and waste management. According to the website, the recycling center is trying to "move from dependence on solid waste disposal to programs in waste reduction, reuse, and recycling to help MSU use resources more efficiently; simultaneously reducing the volume, cost, and environmental impacts of the university's waste"
In 2007 cornstarch was tested at the T.B. Simon Power Plant as a source of energy.
The first building on campus to be LEED certified was the Chemistry building. LEED stands for Leadership, Energy and Environmental Design, and basically means that the buildings are functioning efficiently and are not wasting large amounts of energy. According to Lynda Boomer, the energy and environmental engineer at the Physical Plant, all new buildings will meet LEED standards, but may not become officially LEED certified due to the fees involved.
in 2006 the MSU Bikes Service Center opened up in the canoe rental facility beneath Bessey Hall. The center serves as a full-service bike repair and rental facility. The Bike Service program has fixed up and rented out over a thousand bikes since it started in 2003.
In 2006 two new units were implemented at the power plant. Unit #5 is a steam turbine and generator, and unit #6 is a natural gas combustion turbine and a heat-recovery steam generator. Both of these are used to generate electricity to meet the ever growing demand for energy by the university. The university is constantly expanding, and the energy sources used to power the university need to expand with it.
The Science, Technology, Environmental, and Public Policy Specialization started up in 2005. Mark Largent, the director of STEPPS, says that the program grew fairly quickly and is not accepting more people for the time being, having 240 already. Largent says that students in STEPPS go on to have jobs in a number of different fields including environmental law, public affairs, sustainability and economic development, and many others. "It’s one of the rare places where you find people who know enough about both science and policy that they can help bridge scientific communities and political communities" he said. While STEPPS is one of the larger sustainability specializations on campus, there are dozens of sustainability specializations, and over 15 sustainability-related majors. Jennifer Battle, the assistant director of the Office of Campus Sustainability, said there is a push nationally for these types of majors, so universities are providing them.
The Be Spartan Green initiative started in 2005 and sprouted from the Office of Campus Sustainability. According to Jennifer Battle, the assistant director of the Office of Campus Sustainability, this initiative is focused strictly on students. It is a strategic plan to enhance environmental stewardship on campus and encourage students to be more environmentally conscious and friendly. The initiative does such things as reminding students to recycle, turn off lights, unplug electronics, and other such things.
In 2004 low NOx burners were installed at the power plant to reduce the emission of nitrogen oxides. According to Lynda Boomer, the energy and environmental engineer at the Physical Plant, the university is constantly trying to reduce its emissions by implementing new scrubbers and other technology and joining programs like the Chicago Climate Exchange.
The green roof on the Plant and Soil Sciences building are being monitored at various levels to see how much heat is absorbed by the green roofs.
The MSU Bike Project started as "an effort dedicated to transforming (recycling) abandoned bicycles into fun, economical, environmentally friendly and healthy transportation alternative for the MSU campus community" according to its website
In 2003, a state grant gave the university the funding it needed to test solar panels at the MSU Agricultural Pavillion.
Spring of 2002 was the first season of the Student Organic Farm. The farm operated in three passive solar greenhouses that the students had built.
The original Green Roof Research program was a collaboration with Ford Motor Company. Company officials wanted to implement green roofs on a new plant in Dearborn Michigan, according to the website. The program is still a research program, with each green roof site being tested and monitored.
MSU did have it's own bus system prior to 1999, but in 1999 the decision was made to merge the original bus system with CATA to give MSU the foundation for what is on campus today.
The Office of Campus Sustainability started in 1999 due to a grant the university had received for it, according to Jennifer Battle, the assistant director for the Office of Campus Sustainability. According to Battle, the office has a broad agenda. In short, they are working to bring cleaner and more sustainable technologies to campus.
The program started as a combination of two interests. A group of students were interested in to implement what they were learning and growing an organic farm, and Horticulture professor John Biernbaum began researching the possibility of four season farming in Michigan, according to the website. These two ideas combined to create the Student Organic Farm.
The fourth boiler for the power plant was built in 1993. This boiler can use coal, natural gas, and biomass, as opposed to the other three boilers, which could only utilize coal. The implementation of this boiler was one of the largest early steps of implementing renewable energy on campus.
These first recycling collection containers were for white paper only.
The recycling program was a response to a student presentation at a Board of Trustees meeting. This program was the first step in eventually getting a Recycling Center built on campus.
The third boiler of the T.B. Simon Power Plant was built 1973.
The first two boilers at the T.B. Simon Power Plant were built in 1965. The T.B. Simon Power Plant is a co-generation power plant, meaning that it produced steam for both electrical and heating needs, making it one of the most efficient coal-fired plants at about 60% efficiency. Because of this plant, Michigan State University is self sufficient.