Georgian Court Posts Continued Gains in Protecting the Environment
Lakewood, N.J., Apr. 22, 2013—From solid waste recycling to the purchase of electric vehicles, sustainability efforts at Georgian Court University helped the campus reduce its carbon footprint last year by more than 8,073 metric tons, the equivalent of avoiding the carbon dioxide produced by 905,146 gallons of gasoline.
The university's progress is highlighted in the Environmental Protection Agency's 2013 assessment of GCU and comes one year after the university signed a memorandum of understanding with the EPA. The agency estimates the GCU's reduced carbon footprint saved the university an estimated $265,000 in operating expenses.
Fuel oil savings and aggressive light bulb replacement efforts, along with water conservation and increased solid waste recycling, helped contribute to GCU's progress.
GCU President Rosemary E. Jeffries, RSM, Ph.D., entered the partnership with the EPA last year as Georgian Court pledged to participate in a range of voluntary EPA programs meant to broaden the university's sustainability initiatives and further incorporate sustainability practices into the campus culture.
"Our commitment to the environment reflects GCU's reverence for the Earth, a belief that is integral to who we are as a community and one that mirrors the values of our founders—the Sisters of Mercy," says President Jeffries.
The new EPA report of GCU's progress comes just days after the university was presented with the Grassroots Environmental Activist Award by the New Jersey Environmental Federation. The group, a chapter of Clean Water Action, called GCU a "positive example for other campuses and institutions to follow."
In addition, the EPA recently named GCU to the 2013 Green Power Leadership Club, an elite group among its Green Power Partners who demonstrate environmental leadership as they work to reduce the impact of electricity usage.
"Overall, it was a consolidation year for us," explains Louise Wootton, Ph.D., a GCU professor of biology who also serves as GCU's director of sustainability. "We installed more solar panels, we replaced two of the university's gas-powered vehicles with electric vehicles, and we saw considerable savings by creating low-mow or no-mow areas on our campus."
GCU's LEED-Gold certified Wellness Center, which was constructed in 2008 to exceed the building industry's environmental standards, generates about $103,496 each year in savings associated with greenhouse gas reductions. Overall, energy conservation, green landscaping, electronics recycling, and commuter gas savings also play a large role.
"We're near the tipping point on some many fronts, but it's still a challenge to do everything that we want to accomplish," says Dr. Wootton, noting several new initiatives. In 2012, student researchers installed more than 200 energy-saving ceramic window films in select classrooms, and the savings results of that effort will become available this summer. Dr. Wootton is also carefully monitoring the impact of GCU's reduced use of herbicides and fertilizers, and will work this summer to construct a set of gravel wetlands to test four designs for storm water basins.
For more information about Georgian Court's special initiatives, visit www.georgian.edu/sustainability.htm, or contact Louise Wootton, Ph.D., GCU director of sustainability, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 732.987.2349. The 2013 GCU-EPA Environmental Assessment Report is also available upon request.
Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is a comprehensive university with a strong liberal arts core and a special concern for women. A forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, Georgian Court announced in May 2012 its transition to a fully coeducational university in 2013. Today, the university serves nearly 2,500 students of all faiths and backgrounds in both undergraduate and graduate programs. Georgian Court's main campus is located at 900 Lakewood Avenue, Lakewood, N.J., on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court also offers classes at the New Jersey Coastal Communiversity in Wall.
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