City of Waco Designates May 22, 2012, as Baylor Sustainability Day

Smith Getterman with Mayor Jim Bush
(L to R) -- Smith Getterman, sustainability coordinator at Baylor University, receives a proclamation from Waco Mayor Jim Bush declaring May 22, 2012, as Baylor Sustainability Day in Waco.
May 22, 2012

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WACO, Texas (May 22, 2012) - After celebrating several milestone achievements in Baylor University's sustainability efforts, Waco Mayor Jim Bush declared May 22, 2012, as Baylor Sustainability Day during the final spring meeting of the University Sustainability Committee.

"I urge the people of Waco to join with the City Council, the City staff and me in commending Baylor University for being an innovative leader in stewardship," Bush said. "We recognize the importance of taking care of our resources and join with the Baylor Sustainability Committee in preserving our world's integrity through education and wise stewardship. The City of Waco encourages everyone to join Baylor to reduce consumption, reuse resources and recycle."

Smith Getterman, sustainability coordinator at Baylor, accepted the Mayor's proclamation.

"This has been a banner year for sustainability and for Baylor being recognized as a university that cares about creation," Getterman said. "But Baylor could not achieve these things without the support of the administration, faculty, staff and students, and the dedication of everyone who serves on the University Sustainability Committee. It's not one person, it's not two people. It's all of us. And we are grateful for groups like Keep Waco Beautiful that support us when we ask for it and need it. It's those connections and those relationships that I'm excited about and very thankful for."

During the meeting, Getterman presented the university's sustainable accomplishments over the past academic year in Waste and Recycling, Energy and Water, Student and Community Engagement, and National Awards and Recognition.

Waste and Recycling

Some of most exciting progress comes from Baylor's recycling efforts. The university continues to increase its amount of recycled materials, as well as its diversion rate, which stands at 28 percent in 2012. In the first five months of 2012, Baylor has recycled 199 tons of waste, almost half of last year's total of 414 tons collected over an entire year.

"The numbers speak well to where our efforts are going," Getterman said. "More than a quarter of the university's waste is being recycled rather than taken to the landfill, which is a phenomenal number for a campus Baylor's size. And to top it off, we're on pace to hit a record 500 tons of recycling in 2012," Getterman said.

Baylor finished as the Big 12 champion and sixth overall in Texas in the eight-week RecycleMania competition that determines the universities with the best recycling rates as a percentage of total waste. Baylor's diversion rate jumped to 28.6 percent of waste diverted from the landfill, which Getterman noted was 8 percent higher than the diversion rate in 2011 and 12 percent higher than the rate in 2010.

In addition, Baylor set a new recycling record of 12.84 tons collected during fall 2011 Move-In, surpassing the previous record of 10.6 tons from the fall 2009 Move-In. "That is 25,680 lbs of recycling, almost all of it cardboard, collected during a 48-hour period," Getterman said.

Energy and Water

Getterman also reported on success of the Baylor Energy Madness Competition among all Baylor residence halls, which resulted in collective energy savings of 6 percent. Alexander Hall won the overall competition in fall 2011.

In response to student concerns, Baylor's Sustainability Committee also developed a system for students to use their smartphones to report water issues, such as a broken sprinkler head. "We've seen a lot of success from that, even at 2 o'clock in the morning. Students feel like Baylor is being active in taking care of these issues," Getterman said.

Student and Community Engagement

On Sept. 30, Baylor experienced the "greening" of the popular Brothers Under Christ Island Party, the first on-campus event that was 100 percent Styrofoam-free. The university's Community Garden also yielded its first harvest, which was delivered by Baylor's Campus Kitchen to Salvation Army.

"For the first time in their history on campus, they were able to provide fresh produce as well as rescued food from university dining halls," Getterman said. "In addition, the garden has become a community classroom for local schoolchildren and college students. It's been a great year for that Community Garden initiative."

Baylor Sustainability also reported more than 800 volunteer hours for sustainability-focused initiatives, such as football game recycling, Bearathon and Move-In. "We're getting more students involved in sustainability volunteering. It's a great opportunity to educate students on something that they're going to be faced with for the rest of their lives, both professionally and personally," Getterman said.

For campus meetings, Baylor Sustainability established a Green Meeting Certification process as an avenue for offices and groups to monitor and improve the environmental impact of their campus meetings. Green meetings seek to more efficiently marshal the university's resources while reducing an office's overall environmental impact.

Transportation

The university's transportation system, the Baylor University Shuttle (BUS), continued to grow in ridership. BUS experienced an increase of more than 30,000 riders during the 2011-12 academic year, while membership doubled for Zipcar, the university's car-sharing service. To improve bicycle transportation, the City of Waco and Baylor partnered on an effort to add bike lanes on campus.

National Awards and Recognition

In April, Baylor's Creation Week - which promotes religion and spirituality, and how those practices can positively impact organic farming, water issues and recycling - was featured among U.S.News & World Report's top colleges and universities that promote sustainability that promote sustainability by celebrating Earth Day on their campuses.

In March, Baylor was named one of the "Sustainable 16" colleges and universities that exemplify excellence in environmental academics and have the best undergraduate programs in environmental studies and sustainability.

In November 2011, Baylor was featured as Campus of the Week by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

"People are really starting to recognize that Baylor cares about sustainability, that we're a group of Christian leaders who care about creation. As a Christian university, it's important for us to put ourselves out there and let people know that Baylor University walks the walk and talks the talk on every level," Getterman said.

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