UMKC Sustainability garners awards

Kynslie Otte

The Building Services’ commitment to sustainable environmental practices is threefold.

“We invest in the future by being committed to protect the environment, campus resources and campus and local communities through best practices,” said the Building Services’ website.

This new drive toward sustainability is one of the reasons why the Green Cleaning Awards (GCA) 2011 Higher Education Honorable Mention was given to UMKC. Cited by the American School and University Magazine (ASUM) were UMKC’s “campus-wide recycling efforts, Environmental Studies Student Association and UMKC Sustainability Team, a faculty/staff group that publicizes green cleaning and sustainability efforts.”

Other awards that have been given to UMKC recently include Bridging The Gap, Inc.’s “Environmental Excellence Award,” a place on the Sierra Club’s “Cool School 100 Top Universities” and a designation as a “Best Program” by Mid America Regional Council-Solid Waste Management District.

UMKC was also featured in Greenability Magazine as the “greenest” regional university.

“We’ve got a pretty good system,” Operations Coordinator Matt Chiesi said of the green seal-certified soap dispensers used in all campus restrooms. “We’ve been following along with Building Services. It allows us to use less chemicals.”

Chiesi said more improvements will come in the near future.

Mulching mowers that use the grass clippings as mulch for the lawns have been adapted.

In addition, the school has worked to provide clean transportation alternatives.

The $14 per semester flat rate bus pass fee allows students to use their ID’s to ride any KCATA Metro or Max bus.

A bicycle rental program at Swinney Recreation Center also encourages clean commuting.

Kaye Johnson, Sustainability Coordinator for Dining Services, said Dining Services has reduced the amount of waste and increased recycling as part of the Sustainability Goals for Zero Waste.

Food Services also supports the UMKC Garden Collective, serving produce from a local, student-lead community garden. Compostable straws and bulk condiments, recent additions to Food Services this semester, are seen as green-friendly steps.

Johnston said Food Services’ next step is to purchase more locally-grown food.

In the past several years, Dining Services has greened up the cafeteria by providing cage-free eggs, composting pre-consumer food waste and oil and using 100 percent recyclable napkins and biodegradable cups and utensils.

The 2010 opening of the Student Union also meant a commitment to green.

The use of timers on lights in the Student Union minimized electricity consumption. Compositing bins in both the Student Union and University Center Cafeteria minimize food waste.

Bookstore manager Chris Wolfe highlighted some of the contributions his department has made to green:

“We have a cardboard compactor in the back where we crush cardboard and recycle, where previously it all just went right to the trash. We used to buy packing material in order to ship books back to the publisher, but now we save the packing material that comes in. We have more space in this location, so now we’re able to store it and reuse it.”

Wolfe said that on Earth Day, April 22 of each year, the Bookstore hands out trees that are native to Missouri. Every work station is also provided with a recycling bin for paper and cardboard materials.

UMKC sees its commitment to sustainability as not only the “green” thing to do, but also as a publicity tool.

The school’s many awards have been publicized through local media, with presentations given to the KC Chamber of Commerce, Green Fest, Earth Day and U. S. Green Building Council (USGBC), among others.

Johnson emphasized the contribution students make toward a greener campus “by reusing, recycling and composting as much as possible.”

“It is important for students to encourage their peers to take a moment and put recyclables in the recycling containers, and compost in the compost container,” she said, when asked what students can do to promote green.

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