Three ways Clemson promotes sustainability
The concept of sustainability is not new to Clemson, according to its Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Robert Jones.
“As the land-grant University for South Carolina, sustainability has always been a foundation of our teaching, research and outreach programs,” he explained. “This has been our goal from the early days of this University when Clemson taught sustainable agricultural practices.”
From early days to modern times, Clemson’s commitment to sustainability remains strong. And the University created a plan to keep it that way.
In 2011, Clemson introduced a Sustainability Action Plan, that forged a path toward two goals:
- Sustainability will be an integral part of the educational experience for all Clemson students.
- Clemson’s campus will be a model of energy sustainability and operate as a “carbon neutral” campus by 2030.
Since then, Clemson has been a sustainability champion in a number of areas. Here are three.
“Clemson is a leader across the nation when it comes to recycling,” said Solid Waste Recycling Manager Dave VanDeventer.
The self-described “trash guru” said that overall University recycling rates have more than doubled from 2011-12. This was possible, he said, because of partnerships across campus.
One such partnership is with Clemson Athletics as part of the Game Day Recycling Challenge. The annual event includes colleges and universities across the nation, which compete to see who could recycle or reduce the most waste during football games. Clemson secured first place in 2014, 2017, and most recently during the 2018 football season, where 123,661 pounds of trash were recycled during home football games.
Recycling isn’t limited to football games. If you’ve eaten food at any of the main campus dining halls or enjoyed your morning cup of Joe, courtesy of the campus Starbucks, you’re contributing to the cause.
VanDeventer said the Recycling department collects leftover food waste from the dining halls and coffee grinds from campus coffee providers, such as Starbucks. That food waste is delivered to Clemson’s Cherry Crossing facility, near the main campus, where it is composted. Since 2011, the university has composted more than 3.6 million pounds of food waste.
“Our efforts have been successful because of the amount of support we get from the University administration, colleges and departments,” said VanDeventer. Because of that support, we have been able to reach many of our goals.
Parking and Transportation Services has been a champion in this area.
“We’re charged with reducing demand for vehicles on campus,” said Parking and Transportation Services Director Dan Hofmann.
He’s serious about it. Hofmann and his team introduced the Clemson University Commuter Choice Program, which was designed and marketed to demonstrate the variety of non-car alternatives that can be used to commute to and around campus. Under the initiative, Clemson has promoted the Tiger Transit system, introduced a CarShare program, created preferred parking for low-emission and electric vehicles, and brought a BikeShare program to the main campus. As a result, Clemson received a Spare the Air award in 2017 from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).
In the past few years, Parking Services opened Park-N-Ride lots to the east and west of the main campus. Hofmann said the lots are a win-win with reduced emissions and reduced prices on remote parking lot permits.
For those who do park on campus, one can waste a lot of gas trying to find that coveted parking spot. Parking Services has remedies. For faculty, staff, students and visitors, parking “sensors,” are present in most of the metered spaces on campus allowing drivers to access parking space availability for almost 400 spaces. Drivers can locate open metered parking spots through their smartphones using the my.Clemson app, thereby saving gas and reducing emissions.
Technology has allowed phones to become “smart.” It’s done the same for parking meters. Using a dashboard, the myParkfolio software gives Hofmann’s team real-time information on all parking meters. If they malfunction, are low on parking receipt paper, or need to be emptied, Hofmann’s team knows about it immediately and can perform targeted maintenance quicker and more efficiently.
“It used to take our team four hours per day to go to 125 meters three times each week,” explained Hofmann. “This new system helps us reduce emissions and lower labor costs. We’re using technology to enhance sustainability.”
In 2004, Clemson adopted a Sustainable Building Policy that all newly constructed or substantially renovated buildings should be designed to meet at least LEED Silver standards.
Clemson had one of the first LEED-certified public buildings in the state.
One of those buildings is the newly completed tennis center, which will be used by the University’s men’s and women’s varsity tennis teams. The state-of-the art venue includes six indoor courts and six outdoor practice courts and boasts a clubhouse with locker rooms, offices, equipment rooms, player lounges and more. What makes it friendly from a sustainability standpoint is the use of “green” materials such as easy-to-recycle insulated metal panels, drought-resistant landscaping, LCD lighting and the use of recycled building materials. Even the orientation of the building was planned along an east/west axis, which optimizes natural sunlight. The facility was the first on the main campus to earn two Green Globes certification.
Project manager Tommi Jones says that it’s important for the Tennis Center and all new buildings to be LEED- or Green Globes-certified.
“It results in a sustainable, energy efficient structure with reduced operating costs,” she explained. “And it demonstrates our commitment to best practices in sustainable design, construction and operations.”