Lisa Kunst-Vavro, Sustainable Landscape Coordinator
The Climate Initiative at Penn State Greater Allegheny & the Penn State Center
The increasing pressures on global resources and environmental conditions make it imperative that Penn State embrace sustainability in its many dimensions in ways that would position the University as a leader nationally and internationally. The University can demonstrate its leadership in terms of the incorporation of sustainability in its educational programs, in its research and knowledge creation about global issues surrounding sustainability, and in operating its facilities. In keeping with the theme of prioritization and excellence, strategies to embrace sustainability efforts are offered with the expectation that short-term investments will be necessary but that they can lead to long-term savings.
The current economic and environmental crises affecting a range of everyday existence for most of the Penn State community and its constituencies provide a platform from which responses can consider the impacts on sustainability. Energy and the environment are two critically important dimensions of sustainability, but far more dimensions can be considered.
As a member of the Higher Education Climate Consortium, Penn State Greater Allegheny & The Penn State Center: Pittsburgh are committed to aligning its campus and programmatic practices with the Pittsburgh Climate Initiative. Programs and policies are well underway, and features are described below.
Greater Allegheny Campus is developing a Biodiesel Lab for both educational and practical purposes. The lab will produce biofuel for campus use.
Educational Initiatives & Outreach
The Penn State Center: Pittsburgh
-Seminar series on Green Roof Technologies
-Seminar series on Storm Water Mitigation Methodologies.
-Consultation and Training in vacant lot and greening methods.
–Integrated Pest Management training.
-Certificate in Sustainable Landscape Technology, in partnership with the Penn State Center for Sustainability
-Serving as the SW PA hub for “train the trainer” activities in Solar and Smart Grid technologies.
-Engaging in Research on Energy Efficient Housing
The Greater Allegheny Campus has not yet completed an emissions inventory.
The Penn State Center: Pittsburgh [and all other local Penn State Outreach efforts] will be moving into offices at the Green Innovator Building, former Connelley Vo-Tech High School, a projected Gold+ LEED facility located in Pittsburgh’s Historic Hill District.
Energy: Efficiency, Conservation, and Alternative
Energy conservation is a priority at Greater Allegheny. Efforts are being made to reduce paper use and copying on campus. The computer Center is working to use software to turn off campus computers when not being used to conserve electricity.
Recycling and Waste Management
Students, staff, and faculty at Greater Allegheny are committed to recycling. The campus is purchasing new recycling bins and has a campus wide effort in place to improve recycling participation.
Buildings and Grounds
The Greater Allegheny Campus employs Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices to reduce the use of pesticides in the environment.
The future home of the Penn State Center, will be a Gold+ LEED building.
Plans are in place to run Greater Allegheny Campus vehicles on Biodiesel when the Biodiesel Lab comes on line.
Students are working to develop a Biodiesel Production Lab that will convert Food Services’ used fry-oil into biodiesel. Plans are in place to use the fuel in campus vehicles. A Business Entrepreneurship course being offered in the Spring 2011 will help develop a business plan for biodiesel production with the hopes of introducing this process in the surrounding community.
The PSU Greater Allegheny Environmental Club meets to help promote environmental practices. The club has been instrumental in helping to push the campus into purchasing new recycling bins as well as considering other sustainable measures.