COLLEGE CAMPUSES ALL OVER THE COUNTRY ARE DOING IT: recycling bins at every corner, waste-reduction dining, energy-efficient buildings, recycled paper, green this and green that.
Long before the verdant bandwagon began its eco-friendly journey, the Manchester College community was marking the way. It’s part of the mission to graduate persons who improve the human condition, who are responsible citizens … who make a difference.
- Manchester’s environmental studies program is one of the oldest in the country, established in 1971, nearly 26 years before the Kyoto Protocol tried to reduce greenhouse emissions.
- Recycling became a staple on campus more than 25 years ago, when most other campuses were sending their paper and plastic to the landfill. The College is among only 85 campuses in the nation to receive a grant from the Coca-Cola/ National Recycling Coalition for new recycling bins.
- In 1963, Gene Likens ’57 was busy discovering that there’s acid rain in North America and researching how air pollution contributed to the phenomena. He founded the Institute of Ecosystem Studies in 1981, a non-profit dedicated to the scientific study of how natural and human factors impact the world’s ecosystems.
- Each May, more than half of MC graduates and most of the faculty sport the green ribbon of the Graduation Pledge Alliance on their gowns, symbolizing they will take into account the environmental (and social) consequences of any job they consider and will work to improve the environmental consciousness of their work environments.
Today, the College’s sustainability and environmental consciousness remains evergreen.
In 2008, Manchester consolidated its environmental efforts into the Green Campus Initiative, a task force of staffers, faculty environmental scientists and students. “It is part of Manchester’s culture to be good stewards,” says Dale Carpenter, director of human resources and Initiative leader.
For the first time, eco-friendly folks with varied agendas have a unity, a place to come together on campus and talk about what Manchester can do better. They began with a sustainability policy:
It is the policy of Manchester College to reduce solid wastes and energy/water consumption whenever practical, through the active efforts of its faculty, staff, and students in closing doors, turning off lights, using water more efficiently, and generally making positive efforts to conserve and recycle; we will also use passive means such as installing energy/water-saving devices and lights; purchasing energy efficient products; and, pursuing energy savings strategies and design in construction plans.
The Green Campus Initiative website is filled with Manchester College green news and projects, tips, energy use records and guidelines. Website visitors will learn:
- Information Technology Services has installed new energy-efficient computers campus wide. Faculty and staff are urged to turn them off when not needed.
- Printing Services has set all campus printers automatically to print on both sides of paper. (Students can change the default.)
- Physical Plant is decentralizing the heating system with energy-efficient boilers in smaller buildings.
- Volunteer Services and Chartwells dining service are spearheading food waste programs.
- The College is leading the $1 million Middle Eel River Watershed Initiative to improve the water quality of a 30-mile stretch of the Eel River. The coordinator is Terri Michaelis ’09.
- Peace studies majors Rebecca Creath ’12 and Erin Cartwright ’11 proposed and helped implement trayless dining in Haist Commons as a class project for Literature of Nonviolence, reducing food waste, saving water, energy and reducing water pollution.
The Manchester environmental studies program realizes that sustainability isn’t just a scientific issue, political issue or economic issue. Sustainability is interdisciplinary, requiring knowledge from many different areas of study. That’s why the major offers courses in environmental science, law, economics, politics and philosophy, along with biology and chemistry courses. Such an approach also opens up more opportunities for careers.
Ben Martin ’08 volunteered as an emergency response crew member for Washington State for AmeriCorp., responding to hurricanes, floods and wildfires. Larry Yoder ’64 used his environmental studies degree to build his organic oasis, Yoder Farm, which produces loads of vegetables, maple syrup and hay.
The environmental studies professors are experts in their field and win high praise from students.
“The passion Dr. Jerry Sweeten ’75 has for the environment and teaching comes alive in his students” says environmental sciences minor Andrea Graft ’08, who today works for Biomet in Warsaw, Ind. “He has provided me with information and knowledge that I use each day. Thanks to him, I have gained a love for the environment.”
BY NATE HODGES ’10
Making a difference, naturally
More than 1,200 strong, trees find gentle caretaker
THEY NUMBER IN THE THOUSANDS, their enrollment growing steadily, year by year. They contribute more to the “greening” of Manchester College than any other effort, and have sheltered more than 100 years of campus transformations. Some are “transplants” commemorating historical events; others are enduring reminders of events and persons we must not forget.
Dave Good, Manchester’s groundskeeper for three decades, considers each a dear friend. On a stroll, he’ll fondly point out their characteristics and histories. “There’s one with a gnarly trunk outside of Calvin Ulrey,” he notes. “And outside the Administration Building there’s a huge sprawling hackberry tree.”
How many? “I couldn’t even begin to guess,” says Good, dismayed he does not have a ready answer. Perhaps, he muses, he’ll ask his student workers to do a census. But there never seems enough time, what with all of the pruning, watering, leaf raking. It’s a good guess that the trees on campus number more than 1,200, including 100 that were planted to mark the College’s first century in 1989.
There’s also the College Woods, home to the appropriately named Tall Oaks president’s residence, and the 100-acre Koinonia Environmental and Retreat Center 12 miles north of campus.
Most are white oaks, their enormous boughs spreading wide overhead. And maples … lots of those were planted during Easterner Parker Marden’s admininstration. Saplings from huge, treasured sassafras trees on the site of the Science Center now are healthy saplings near Cordier Auditorium. Some of the trees carry markers with their names. Tulip poplar, hackberry, Norway spruce, white ash, Moraine locust, wild cherry, Ginko biloba, bald cypress, sweetgum … they’re all there.
Some are from the American Forests Famous & Historic Trees program, including a sycamore said to be an offspring of the tree Hippocrates sat beneath when he penned his Oath. American Forests provides the trees to help us understand how trees benefit us all – environmentally, socially and economically.
Trees filter carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the air, releasing just the oxygen. They reduce other pollutants, hold the soil in place, control flooding by absorbing water, shade campus buildings from the hot August sun, and provide homes and food for campus critters. While benefit estimates vary, it’s safe to say that each white oak returns about $300 annually to the College – in utility savings, storm-water and air quality and, of course, in property value. That’s $360,000, conservatively.
“Whenever we lose a tree for whatever reason, we replace it,” says Good, “but I also try to put in five or six new trees every year to keep the cycle going.”
Every spring, the 50-year reunion class plants a tree, often a red oak. Another annual tradition in recent years is a tree planting ceremony to ensure younger generations will not forget the Holocaust. “Tree memorials are an act of faith, an affirmation that life should go on and a gift to future generations,” says Susie Sharfman, who leads the College’s tree donation program.
She invites classes, organizations, alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends of the College to plant trees in memory of loved ones, or to celebrate a birthday, graduation, retirement or other special occasion. An engraving on a wall sculpture in the College Union will recognize each $500 tree gift. For details, contact Sharfman at 888-257-2586 or email@example.com. The gift pays for the tree and its perpetual care, including costly pruning, no matter how tall it gets.
A redbud is “hanging on by the skin of its teeth,” but Good and his student workers continue to nurture it, despite its hollow trunk and twisted trunk. “I hope when I get older and uglier people don’t chop me down,” Good says with a grin. “If a tree’s got any life in it at all, I’ll try to save it.”
BY TIFFANY BERKEBILE ’10
This is a story about energy … all kinds of energy
Gary Heckman ’02 is a “steam geek.” He gets his kicks out of measuring the steam that heats the offices and classrooms and bedrooms of Manchester College. Boilers turn his crank. His camera is bulging with photos of pipes and fittings and meters and things that go clank in the night.
The campus systems supervisor of 14 years can bore you to tears with chat about chillers and switches and feedwater and valves.
Until he starts talking about the results of his fascination.
“Gary has been critical to energy savings on campus,” asserts Chris Garber ’77, associate vice president for financial affairs and director of operations. Heckman is quick to spread the praise among his five tradesmen, whose experience and energy for stewardship is legend on campus: Doug Campbell, Gary Beck, Mark McKee, Dale Metzger and Brian McNabney.
Here’s a hint of projects Heckman and his teammates have led or instigated:
- A new natural gas boiler in Schwalm Hall, replacing the dirty and highly inefficient coal-fired boiler, paid for itself in three years.
- Insulated steam fittings throughout campus. In the Power House alone, Heckman’s team stemmed the loss of more than 1 million BTUs per hour.
- Metering at integral points to identify energy losses and high-usage points. “If you measure it, you can manage it,” notes Heckman.
- The College added the 85,000-square-foot Science Center without increasing the natural gas bill.
- Heckman’s team sees more possibilities: Install boilers and water heaters in each residence hall, for a projected natural gas savings of $150,000 a year.
The MC sociology graduate returned to school last year, for extensive training and certification in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), dedicated for environmentally friendly design, construction and operation of buildings. He’s charged up to apply that new-found knowledge toward making all of the College’s buildings more eco-friendly and budget-friendly.
BY NATE HODGES ’10
Manchester joins food fight to reduce waste
Students, Chartwells food service lead eco-friendly dining habits
Green dining is continuing education for the entire Manchester College community. Many of the eco-friendly dining changes are student initiatives, but Chartwells food service also is determined to take a large bite out of the College’s food waste.
Students returned to campus this fall to optional trayless dining, a student-led initiative quickly embraced by several campus organizations. Diners fill and carry plates to their tables.
Is it a hassle? Absolutely. But students are taking less food and saving a half-gallon of dishwater per tray. They’re also reducing detergent pollution, the number of trays that ultimately end up in landfills, labor, energy … and gaining green knowledge that they are making a difference. About 75 percent of students have gone trayless. “That’s huge,” notes a happy Carole Miller-Patrick, who coordinates the College’s volunteer opportunities.
Prompting students to think twice about taking only what they’ll eat, “Project Clean Plate” has them scraping their plates themselves. The tubs of unwanted food are a visible example of waste. The lower the food level in the tubs, the more Chartwells donates its waste savings to MC Volunteer Services.
With the savings, Volunteer Services financed 300 meals and Thanksgiving baskets for area needy and helped stock the community food pantry.
“Students have to take the extra step and show initiative to go green,” says sociology major Alyson Edwards ’10, of Volunteer Services. “We are definitely making strides in the right direction. We’ve researched, and only a handful of campuses do the ‘Scrape your Plate’ program.”
Chartwells is making huge strides trimming its kitchen waste, notes Director Chris Yeadon. From spoiled food to baking disasters, those savings end up in local tummies of a different species, completing a 360-degree cycle. Local hog farmer Brian McNabney collects the food waste for feed, sending his fattened hogs to a local food cooperative. The down side? The pigs are getting finicky, preferring the College menu.
On tap: bio-degradable sports bottles for take-out meals, drastically reducing paper cup usage for cold drinks. Even in the early stages, this initiative could take 400 cups per day out of the trash ... and the environment.
The area economy and area businesses benefit as Chartwells continues to “buy local,” says Yeadon.
Less food wasted means less resources wasted, including water, electricity and fossil fuels. “It’s just the right thing to do,” says Yeadon.
BY TIFFANY BERKEBILE ’10