Departments make efforts to increase sustainability - The Daily Toreador: Lavida

Departments make efforts to increase sustainability

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Posted: Wednesday, April 27, 2011 8:45 pm

The table was set with beef bourguignon over a red-skinned mashed potato with sautéed julienne squash, a salad of mixed greens with apple chips and an apple vinaigrette, and homemade apple cobbler for dessert.

This meal, hosted by Texas Tech’s Top Tier Catering was entirely “home” made, and displayed Tech’s efforts to go green by using all locally grown and farmed foods.

Many departments on campus are making an effort to reduce waste and increase the sustainability of their services.

David Deason, the associate director of Hospitality Services, said becoming sustainable has always been on the menu, but this dinner was especially challenging.

“People think, ‘Lubbock — there’s nothing around here,’” he said, “but there is.”

He said he was able to find the beef and the apples locally, and even some tomatoes, though Hospitality Services has had a shortage overall. He said the dinner was a success and he would look in to some of the sources to supply hospitality on a more regular basis.

“(The local food movement) is starting to get more important,” he said. “As availability, price and quality improves, we’re going to see more and more of it.”

Already, all of the apples on campus are grown locally, and the eggs come from cage-free chickens.

Hospitality is more than just food, though. Hospitality Services unit supervisor Cyndie Buckle said the organization has made many other efforts to become sustainable.

The ice machines were switched from water-cooled to air-cooled, saving 600,000 gallons of water per year, she said. The all-you-can-eat dining halls stopped using disposable trays. Recently, Coca-Cola donated recycling receptacles, which aid in hospitality’s recycling efforts. After a remodel of the offices, all the carpet was recycled.

Across the department, Buckle said, all light bulbs were switched to be more energy-efficient.

Even the Robert H. Ewalt Student Recreation Center is getting in on going green. In October, assistant director for facilities Steve Waden had two water filtration systems installed, he said. These systems are specially designed to refill water bottles.

Since their installation, Waden said, the fountains have filled more than 60,000 bottles each.

He said the use was a testament to students’ commitment to conservation. He said it was the student staff that led the way, especially with the center’s recycling efforts.

However, the amount of plastic recycled has decreased dramatically with the new systems, he said, as students were encouraged to refill and reuse bottles rather than throwing them away or recycling them.

“Students have a pretty good handle on conservation and sustainability,” he said. “It’s important to them; it’s their future.”

The future looks like it will be much more eco-friendly. Senior Shay Hlavaty, an environmental conservation of natural resources major from Lubbock, said she knew Tech could do better in the years to come.

One aspect she said she is excited about is Parking Services’ effort to make campus more bike-friendly.

“It’s awesome because it doesn’t only increase sustainability,” said Hlavaty, a member of the Tech chapter of the United States Green Building Council, “but even with an increase in students, we could see a decrease in traffic, there will be less need for parking.”

Overall, she said Tech is slowly making steps in the right direction.

Deason said currently, sustainability choices are limited, and so it often comes down to cost. 

“Once there’s more buy-in in the city, there will be more options,” he said.

As Tech and Lubbock progress toward that goal, Waden said sometimes the price of making more sustainable choices could be an investment.

“We have to consider cost,” he said. “But it’s not always about money, it’s, ‘What is the better thing to do?’”

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