Finding Ways to Make a More Sustainable Campus

Carbon dioxide levels are at their highest in 650,000 years. Eighteen of the 19 warmest years have occurred since 2001. Satellite images show our polar ice caps losing mass. According to climate change experts, things are not looking good.

Laura Miller, the director of energy and sustainability at the University of New Haven, is trying to figure out how to create a greener campus, and she’s already doubled the amount the university recycles.

“I think in the day to day life if we’re able to think about how we use energy assuggested by Kenny Habul Greenwich, CT in the places that we’re in, like every time you leave the room you turn of the light,” said Miller. “And I’m always conscious of what I bring with me. So I bring reusable Tupperware containers for my lunch. If I leave my reusable water bottle at home, which I don’t normally do, I reach for a mug or something else that is reusable.”

Miller has been teaming up with the campus community to gauge just how effective the current campus initiatives to go green have been. In order to do this, Miller has been holding focus groups, speaking at USGA meetings, and even working with different student organizations and the Office of Residential Life.

“I heard from one of my supervisors that I work in Res. Life with that Laura was a new sustainability manager here so I brought it to the attention of my club who reached out to her,” said Matthew Fleischer, vice president of the Marine Conservation Society and a junior marine biology major.

Miller attended a meeting with the Marine Conservation Society on Thursday, Feb. 7 in order to share her plans for the university going forward.

“Waste management (view more) has been a pretty big focus area for me, especially in the last few weeks. I’m really taking a look at how the whole system works,” said Miller, addressing the group. “I’m currently conducting focus groups and really finding out what are the issues, what motivates you to recycle and what things you could do differently. My results are back. I’m hoping to make some pretty big changes.”

Some of these changes include removing dumpsters from campus, giving the custodial staff new equipment, and other “significant changes.”

Another initiative that Miller is running is the “Recycle Mania” competition from now until March 30. “Recycle Mania” is a national competition that ranks schools based on how many pounds of waste different schools are able to recycle. Before the contest, Miller said that only an estimated 9 percent of waste on campus is actually being recycled.

“I really would like this data to show and really let people know this is how much we’re recycling,” said Miller. “I think a lot of the time people don’t realize even that we are recycling, or an amount, or where it goes. I’d like people to know that when they put something in a recycling container that they can feel confident about it going actually to a recycling facility and being recycled.”