Earth, Energy, Environment?

First things first, Mines does recycle. The waste in the single-stream recycling bins is, well, recycled. United Waste transfers the refuse to Alpine Waste which processes the materials at their All Together Recycling Center in Denver. Mixed recycles handles five key items: plastic (check the bottom of the packaging for plastics #1-6), paper, metals, glass, and cardboard. As a rule of thumb, “When in doubt, throw it out.” While this may seem counterintuitive, the emissions associated with redistributing contaminated (e.g. plastic lined) recyclable materials outweigh your good intention. 

Now that that’s on the record, what does “Earth. Energy, Environment” mean to you?  You’ve probably seen and heard this phrase to the point that you realize it is a tool in the marketing campaign of Mines utilizing the techniques of repetition and the rule of thirds… all of this is to ponder,  how can we address the great challenges society faces without embracing the culture that we teach, research, and preach? 

Lesser known and spreading through a comparatively minuscule advertising budget is the phrase “responsible stewardship of the earth and its resources.” Welcome to Sustainability at Mines. 

An intern to Lauren Poole, the Mines Sustainability Coordinator, Tyler Pritchard works with the Green Team, a club that brings together sustainably-minded students, to conceive and implement sustainable initiatives on campus. From the residence hall recycling relays and campus SusTalks to waste audits and evaluation of parking policies, the Green Team is the premiere student voice of environmentalism at Mines. To join in the conversation, attend the Green Team meetings every other Tuesday from 4 to 5 pm in Berthoud 206 (with the next meeting being November 12th). Current passion-projects include creating building sustainability captains, monthly sustainability seminars, renewed green land and lab safety, sustainability lobbyists for such initiatives as a BSO sustainability requirement for tier advancement, and a TrashTalker program. 

Sustainability at Mines is cultivating an environmentally-conscious campus culture. PeoplePowerPlanet partners Mines with McKinstry, a holistic firm for the design, construction, operations, and maintenance of high-performance buildings, to bring awareness to campus in small ways. These include replacing incandescent light bulbs with LEDs and displaying a carbon cube on campus. The recently published Energy & Sustainability  Report 2019 highlights operational key performance indicators including a 569 metric ton decrease of carbon dioxide emissions since August 2018, 11% decrease in energy use intensity since 2017, 42% increase in materials recycled since 2017, 20% decrease in domestic water use since 2009, 25% increase in steam generation efficiency since 2017, and $2.3 million in energy cost savings since 2017.

If you attended freshman move-out last semester or move-in this August you may have seen a shipping container filled with furniture. A temporary Mines thrift shop offered students a method for furniture disposal and a means to acquire furnishings. 

Semesterly SusTalks are a TEDtalk-esque forum for students, faculty, and eco-warriors to speak on sustainability topics. This past October saw the discussion of Recycling, Air Quality, Veganism, Wind Technology, and Transportation. Watch for announcements regarding the Spring 2020 talk. Come and listen in or present on a sustainability topic you are passionate about. 

Outside the classroom, the Green Team continued its sustainable tailgate initiative by bringing… vegan and vegetarian food to the Homecoming Tailgate…. dun dun dun. In addition to offering appropriate waste receptacles, a fifty-gallon bin of beer cans and bottles was diverted to recycling! 

October saw the observance of Sustainability Month where waste diversion and a new composting program hit the ground running. Moving forward, a capstone project will improve upon composting for Mines Market based on audit feedback. 

Recovering from a failure to complete a Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (Stars) Report several years ago and operating without a sustainability coordinator, Mines has acquired a coordinator and will receive the results of a Stars Report next May. The evaluation rates campus operations from transportation to ground management, curricula and research including fuel cells and an energy minor, campus involvement and the student coordination of such as well as planning as encompassed by the 50-year plan for the Mines campus. The recently published Energy & Sustainability Report 2019 highlights operational key performance indicators including a 569 metric ton decrease of carbon dioxide emissions since August 2018, 11% decrease in energy use intensity since 2017, 42% increase in materials recycled since 2017, 20% decrease in domestic water use since 2009, 25% increase in steam generation efficiency since 2017, and $2.3 million in energy cost savings since 2017. 

To keep up-to-date with Sustainability at Mines, subscribe to the newsletter, volunteer with Sustainability at Mines, attend Green Team meetings, and follow MinesGreenlife on Instagram. Keep in mind as Tyler says, “Oftentimes when people become overwhelmed with commitments such as school, work, etc. they begin to value convenience above all else, jeopardizing the overall sustainability of their actions.” Take some time each week, each day to be mindful of your health and the effects of your actions on your surroundings.

Do you have an environmentally-friendly project you want to see on campus? Apply for the Green Fund by emailing Lauren Poole (poole@mines.edu), pitch your idea to the Mines Philanthropy Council or share the passion-project with the Green Team. Speaking of campus initiatives, have you heard of the Mines Biodome? A group of students is proposing the construction of an integrated biomass power production unit and aquaponics system for educational and institutional research usage while providing students with a local organic food source. To learn more about the project and/ or contribute your ideas, go to https://forms.gle/nAQHP2nq2xoRS5edA to complete a short survey.



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