Rowan's "green" efforts impact environment, garner numerous awards

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Rowan's "green" efforts have earned it accolades as the school has worked to better the environment.

Going green has paid off for Rowan University—and in more than greenbacks.

In November, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection awarded Rowan a Governor's Environmental Excellence Award in the "Clean Air" category at a ceremony held at the governor's official residence. The State applauded Rowan for its steps to fight air pollution and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, citing a wide range of efforts, including purchasing wind power, implementing a landscaping plan that planted numerous trees and native plant species and constructing a cogeneration facility to supplement energy use. The New Jersey Corporation for Advanced Technology and the New Jersey State League of Municipalities co-sponsored the awards, according to the State.

In September, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, Office of Clean Energy presented Rowan with the New Jersey Clean Energy School of the Year award, recognizing the school for its efforts related to promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy, including purchasing 25 percent of its electricity from wind power sources.

Earlier in 2007, Rowan received:

  • The United States Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Quality Award for placing third nationally in waste minimization in RecycleMania in 2006.
  • The EPA Green Power Partnership Award for purchasing 25 percent of the electricity Rowan uses from wind-generated sources.
  • The New Jersey Clean Energy Award for the clean energy the institution purchases.

Even in the dead of winter, Rowan University's sprawling 220-acre campus in suburban Glassboro is green. That's green as in environmentally friendly, something the Gloucester County school is in spades.

"Promoting environmental efforts, in and out of the classroom, and working to come as close as possible to being carbon neutral are important at Rowan University," said Dr. Donald Farish, president. "We are committed to being good stewards of our environment."

Indeed, green comes in many shades at Rowan:

  • College of Engineering and College of Liberal Arts & Sciences professors and students are conducting research on such topics as alternative fuels, wind power and photovoltaic cells.
  • There is the major push to boost recycling across campus, from the classroom to the office to the residence hall. Among other efforts, Rowan has purchased 17 new metal recycling units, each partitioned to separate recyclable cans, bottles and containers from trash, and each year the school holds Move-In Cardboard Capture to save the hundreds, if not thousands, of boxes that formerly went in the trash when students came to campus (Freshman Move-In 2007 contributed three tons of cardboard).
  • A new cogeneration plant that generates electricity and steam will, when fully operational in the next month or so, produce enough electricity to power the equivalent of 1,300 homes. Exhaust from the engines will make up to 25,000 pounds of steam per hour for heating, hot water and air conditioning across campus, a much more efficient process than buying power from utility plants, cutting emissions by approximately 8,000 tons per year. Also, in 2006, the University completed construction of a hybrid central chilled water plant.
  • There are special programs to raise awareness and promote eco-friendly actions, such as January's Focus the Nation event that will address global warming. Groups such as GEO (Glassboro Environmental Organization) and the student recycling teamwork raise awareness, beautify the campus, promote recycling and handle other eco-friendly efforts.
  • Rowan has promoted solar power and has participated in many other energy-related initiatives. The University was an early client of Community Energy Inc., which obtains part of its power from the Jersey-Atlantic Wind Farm in Atlantic City.
  • Rowan was the first signer in New Jersey of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, which pledged the campus to developing a comprehensive plan to achieve climate neutrality as soon as possible.
  • The University has been active with The New Jersey Higher Education Partnership for Sustainability since 2001, and Farish serves as liaison for the New Jersey Presidents Council to the organization.
  • Rowan's campus master plan incorporated sustainability in its guiding principles in 2005 and set LEED (the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification as a minimum building design standard in 2007.

The main reason the University has focused so heavily on environmental issues in the last several years is because it's the right thing to do.

"As a leading public institution of higher education in New Jersey, Rowan University takes seriously its mandate to enrich the lives of our students, our communities and our region. Climate neutrality is a defining issue of the 21st century. To this end, the time has come to lead by example and demonstrate how economic development and environmental protection can be unified to mitigate anthropogenic effects, leaving a promising legacy for future generations," said Rowan Director of Resource Management John Imperatore, P.E.

For more information on Rowan University's comprehensive environmental efforts, go to www.rowan.edu/RUgreen.

 

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