|WKU transit buses carried more than 500,000 passengers in 2011 in buses that utilize 5 percent biodiesel fuel.|
Sustaining Our Future
Fifteen years ago, the recycling program at WKU was primitive, recycling only paper and cardboard. Today WKU is at the cutting edge of sustainability efforts among college campuses across the nation.
In 2007, GreenToppers, a student organization, gained considerable attention for its effort in improving sustainability. A key initiative of the GreenToppers is the Big Red Bikes program to promote bicycle use and awareness. The bicycle-lending program, which currently has a fleet of 35 bicycles, refurbishes abandoned or donated bicycles for loan to students, faculty, and staff at no cost. GreenToppers also began coordinating a formal Earth Day celebration on WKU’s campus in 2007.
In 2008, a full-time Sustainability Coordinator was hired, and the WKU Sustainability Committee, comprised of faculty, staff, and students, was created to integrate principles of sustainability into University academics, operations, and culture.
In 2011, a new Recycling/Surplus Department was formed in an attempt to further reduce waste, with the goal of becoming a near-zero waste campus.
WKU is committed to building to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards, an internationally recognized framework that provides guidelines for sustainable building construction, renovation, and operations.
Since 2010, rainwater collection systems, used for irrigation, have been installed at five locations and collect as much as 45,000 gallons of water for various needs such as watering campus trees and gardens.
In 2010 and 2011, using utility savings resulting from energy conservation and efficiency initiatives, WKU installed natural gas boilers to provide steam to the entire campus through three miles of underground steam lines. Two remaining coal boilers that had served the campus since 1927 are now idle, greatly reducing WKU’s overall carbon footprint.
Recognition and awards
WKU was honored with the distinction of the Tree Campus USA Certification in 2010, 2011, and 2012. The certification requires five core requirements: Campus Tree Advisory Committee, Campus Tree Care Plan, Campus Tree Program with Dedicated Expenditures, Arbor Day Observance, and a Service Learning Project.
WKU was ranked among the nation’s most environmentally responsible “green colleges” in 2010, 2011, and 2012, and is one of only three universities in Kentucky listed in The Princeton Review’s Guide to 322 Green Colleges: 2012 Edition.