While the world faces the effects of climate change, many colleges are taking a stance to fight it, including Baldwin Wallace University.
The university has several initiatives that are based in sustainable practices, from geothermal heating to locally sourcing food for student meals.
BW qualifies as a sustainable school through their various ways of creating energy, that includes several buildings on campus that use geothermal energy as a way of heating and cooling, said President Bob Helmer. Some of these buildings include Ernsthausen Hall, the Center for Innovation and Growth, Boesel Musical Arts Center, Davidson Commons, and the Richard and Karen Durst Welcome Center — though not all students may even be aware of it, Helmer said.
“You know this grass out here, right outside of Kamm? Underneath that field, there are forty wells that go 300 something feet into the earth and cools the water or warms it up, and that becomes our geothermal [energy],” said Helmer.
In addition to producing energy through geothermal wells, the university has also installed solar panels in some buildings. Franklin Lebo, assistant professor of Sustainability, said that Harding House for Sustainable Living has solar panels installed onto the roof. The Center for Innovation and Growth also runs on solar panels.
“The CIG is heated and cooled with geothermal power, but when you flip on a light switch, it’s from its solar panel array that’s on top of the roof,” said Lebo.
Baldwin Wallace University does not only produce energy for the campus, but it also contributes energy to the greater community. The school is part of a program called Grind2Energy. Through this program, all the food wastes from dining services are turned into a slurry and stored into a holding cell.
Lebo said that once the battery reaches a specific capacity, a company takes the slurry away and uses the methane gas from the food and converts it into energy. The left-over food is then turned in fertilizer. This energy and fertilizer are used all over the community.
The energy collected from the food waste is enough to power a home for 5.7 months, said Lebo, and the remains of the food is enough to produce 1.6 tons of fertilizer.
Not only does the campus help the community, but the community helps the university stay sustainable. More than half of the food that Baldwin Wallace purchases is locally grown to help to reduce the school’s carbon footprint.
One of the school’s many vendors is Gordon Food Service. This company uses vendors that are local to the area, and they make sure that the food is organic and ethically grown, said Lebo.
He also said that the school is working on gathering enough money to build a new greenhouse so they can start growing their food.
The university has many plans to continue to combat climate change in the future. The new building that is under construction will be built by using sources from the land that it will sit on, said Helmer.
“We’re reusing campus grown lumber. The cite where the building is located had trees on it that were cut down last spring, and those trees, we saved the trunks,” said Helmer. “We put them in storage for the past year.”
The wood from the trees will mainly be used to build the structure of the elevator shaft.
The university will continue to develop the campus to be more sustainable, said Lebo.