Sept. 28, 2020
As Sustainability Month begins, the world finds itself, for the first time, in a ‘perfect storm’ situation – with an economic crisis, health crisis and environmental crisis – occurring simultaneously and in many cases complicated by each other. It is a time where systems thinking sustainable approaches are necessary for both addressing the crisis and designing what the future holds. Universities are well positioned to play a key part in addressing the ongoing crisis and in designing the future.
MSU, as a land-grant university with its land-grant mission, has sustainability as a part of its roots. MSU contributes directly by researching and developing new technological solutions; educating current and next generation talent; and leading by example while engaging community and business stakeholders. Sustainability at MSU is built on the framework of the 4 C’s: Campus, Curriculum, Community and Culture. However, success is not only built by the organization but through the contributions of all the Spartan family, including faculty, staff, students, alumni, community or business partners. Highlighted below are some the recent accomplishments in MSU’s sustainability journey, upcoming events during the October sustainability month and several resources and opportunities where you too can be involved in the Spartan Sustainability Success Story.
MSU achieved a GOLD rating in 2019 for its sustainability efforts in its third triennial assessment using the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s Sustainability Tracking and Reporting System. MSU was also listed 19th in the Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges: 2019 Edition. MSU is the only Big Ten school to appear in the top 50 colleges and universities. MSU was recently recognized with two gold awards for sustainability from the National Association of College and University Food Services (NACUFS). The awards recognize food procurement practices as well as outreach and education efforts.
MSU continues to reduce its carbon footprint through meeting its Department of Energy Better Buildings Program goal two years early. The goal was to reduce 20% of energy use in 20 million square feet of buildings by 2020. MSU’s newest residential community, 1855 Place, earned its LEED Silver Certification. MSU’s STEM building is also the first mass-timber-constructed building in Michigan using sustainable cross-laminated timber.
MSU currently uses more than 17 million kWh of green energy, which is the equivalent to the electricity use of nearly 2,000 average American homes annually. This has included the installation of North America’s largest solar carport on campus, which contributes to an increase of on-site renewable energy generation by more than 10%. MSU’s solar carports cover 5,000 parking spaces and produce a total estimated 15,000 MWh/year of solar energy. The array has received multiple awards. MSU was also recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as one of eight schools in the Big Ten to be named a national 2018-19 Collective Conference Champion for green energy use.
MSU continues to make sustainability a part of the campus culture through investing $8.5 million in alternative-fuel vehicles in its motor pool, including about 290 flex-fuel E85 vehicles and more than 60 hybrid vehicles. It has also been designated a silver-level Bicycle Friendly University and Tree Campus USA. MSU is transforming campus into a connected ecosystem to drive mobility research and development that advances smart vehicle technology. Also, students are engaging in greening their campus. The Sustainable Spartans received grant from Ford Motor Company Fund to install solar lights at CATA bus stops.
MSU continues programs to support waste reduction. MSU’s premier LEED-certified Surplus Store and Recycling Center diverts more than half of its collected waste materials from landfills. [note current COVID crisis has limited some collection, refer to website]. MSU Residential and Hospitality Services’ 2019 "Clean Plates at State" fall program recorded an average waste per patron of 2.96 ounces, down from 3.16 ounces the previous year, for a reduction in food waste of 24,982 pounds. Running for over 2 decades, RHS’ 2019 move-in diverted 64% of waste materials like cardboard, plastic and paper during its “Pack Up Pitch In” program.
MSU Sustainability is driven by each and every Spartan. There are multiple ways to become a ‘Spartan in Action’ for MSU Sustainability.