Eco Initiatives: Earth-friendly projects take shape on campus

By Nichole Seguin

Going green has grown into a global phenomenon recently and is making its way to Oakland University. From zero-emission vehicles to energy-efficient light fixtures, OU is not stopping on its quest to reduce its carbon footprint.

Eco-friendly floor in Vandenberg

In the Vandenberg residence halls, an entire eco-friendly floor has been developed by OU alum Avery Neale.

The rooms on this floor have 100 percent sustainable carpet squares, a dual-flush toilet and water saver, environmentally friendly “green” paint and water-efficient shower heads.

“These projects aren’t limited to just that floor,” said maintenance manager of university housing Frank Moss. “We’ve actually been applying them wherever applicable. We’ve even made efforts to get green cleaning chemicals used all around campus.”

There are two suites for men and women in Hamlin Hall, and two suites in Vandenberg.

Efficient lighting

In an effort to save money, provide better lighting, require less maintenance and use less energy, OU has partnered up with Detroit Edison to promote the use of LED energy-efficient light fixtures and bulbs.

“We’re putting in eight different manufacturers light- ing systems so we can compare fixtures and figure out which ones work the best,” said Jim Liedel, OU energy manager. “In October, we’re actually going to have a questionnaire online that will allow students to vote and decide which ones they think are the best.”

More information on OU energy is available at www.

Zero emission cars

In other attempts to create a cleaner atmosphere, three electric trucks were purchased for the use of the facilities management department in 2009.

The vehicles, which cost ap- proximately $14,000 each, emit zero carbon emissions and have a carrying capacity of over 1,000 pounds.

Capable of charging from a regular 110-volt outlet, the batteries on the Miles ZX40ST trucks can sustain for up to 25,000 miles and have a full charge distance of 30-40 miles.

By using these vehicles, facilities management plans on saving up to $2,500 annually by using these street legal maintenance vehicles all around campus.

These vehicles can be spotted in three different locations on campus: facilities management, central heat- ing, and building and grounds.

Chartwells: Organic food and recycling

Chartwells, Oakland’s food service provider, has made a recycling commitment through a multitude of different techniques in the Pioneer food court.

Located in the Oakland Center, the cafeteria kitchen recycles cooking oil, cardboard materials, paper products, tin cans and biodegradable containers.

To promote an organic eating environment, Chartwells also uses only cage-free eggs, antibiotic and hormone free poultry and pork, fair trade certified coffee, Monterey Bay approved seafood and locally grown vegetables.

They also provide balanced food meals, superfoods and initiatives like Project Clean Plate, which encourages Vandenberg residents to take only as much food as they can eat, and a reusable mug program. Chartwells also offers food dona- tions to Forgotten Harvest, a per- ishable food-rescue program that provides food to people across the metro Detroit area.

Geothermal pump

With the help of a $2,752,163 grant given to OU by the U.S. Department of Energy in April, OU has been building a new Human Health Center that includes a geothermal heat pump system.

The project, which started as a plan for a gold rating in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental design, will provide the building with cooling, heating and water as well as its own dehumidification of ventilation air.

Expected to be completed in 2012, the project would make OU the first education facility in Michigan to have a system of this kind.

Solar electric roof

Using 550 photovoltaic shingles, the roof on one of the apartment complexes on campus produces its own electricity once exposed to the sun.

Installed in 2003, the roof provides power to the community building locally and is delivered to the campus power grid. The shingles use no batteries and are 100 percent grid inter-tied.

Funding for this project was provided by a grant from the state of Michigan and OU.