Baylor Releases Three-Year Status Report on Sustainability Efforts

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April 11, 2011

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Baylor University has released the first report that details its numerous environmental achievements in waste reduction, recycling and energy conservation since 2007. The cumulative account, which will become an annual report after this year, is available online at

The report measures how sustainable practices at Baylor since 2007 have:

    • saved millions of pages of paper
    • nearly tripled the amount of recycled material on campus
    • more than doubled the university's diversion rate, which is the percentage of total university waste diverted from the landfill and now being reused
    • implemented programs that conserved energy and reduced greenhouse gas emissions

The report also looks at the history of sustainability at Baylor, as well as the establishment of a University Sustainability Policy, LEED certification for university construction projects, "green" solutions in information technology and the engagement of the Baylor and Waco communities in sustainable practices.

"Through our partnership that began just over three years ago, we have revitalized our campus recycling program, increased our diversion rate, started good conversations on energy conservation and put through a sustainability policy that will support our efforts moving forward," said Pattie Orr, chair of the University Sustainability Committee, vice president for information technology and dean of University Libraries at Baylor. "With a high calling before us, we are motivated to be faithful stewards of God's natural resources as we seek to educate the next generation of servant leaders."

Baylor established the University Sustainability Committee (USC) in 2007 to bring together campus partners and initiate a coordinated campus-wide sustainability effort. The committee began its work by assessing sustainable practices in place across campus, creating collaboration between campus departments and determining future sustainability goals and objectives for the university. In 2009, Baylor established the Office of Sustainability and hired Smith Getterman as the university's first full-time sustainability coordinator. Over the past two years, Getterman has extended the work of the USC and expanded education efforts throughout the Baylor community.

"I'm excited to see what the future holds for our campus, in regard to sustainability, because of what we've already accomplished in such a short period of time," Getterman said.

Reducing waste, saving energy

Baylor focused its initial efforts on reducing paper use across campus. Duplex-capable printers were installed in public areas and university offices. The report shows that duplex printing in Baylor's public printing areas grew from less than 5 percent of all print jobs before the sustainability initiative to about 60 percent of all print jobs in 2010. The initiative also helped Baylor increase the amount of paper saved, from 3.89 million pages of paper in 2007 and to 5.18 million pages in 2010.

The report also details Baylor's revitalized campus-wide recycling and public education programs. By 2010, the university had distributed 825 recycling containers and 3,825 recycling boxes in residential communities, campus buildings and offices. All Baylor athletic facilities have recycling containers, thanks to the university's partnership with the City of Waco and Keep Waco Beautiful, as well as a grant from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. During the 2010 Baylor football season, the university recycled a record 6.5 tons, tripling the amount of waste diverted from landfills over the previous season.

Overall, the report shows that the recycling initiative allowed Baylor to increase its recycling from 160.3 tons in 2007 to 443.4 tons in 2010. In addition, the university more than doubled its diversion rate of total waste from the landfill from 7 percent in 2007 to 18 percent in 2010.

To conserve energy, Baylor placed more than 4,000 "Last Out, Lights Out" stickers in classrooms and offices around campus, promoted powering down computer monitors when not in use and coordinated a "Bears Take the Stairs" campaign to encourage the Baylor community to take the stairs rather than the elevator. In 2010, Baylor instituted a new purchasing policy that mandated that all equipment purchased by the university must be Energy Star certified.

The reports notes that several iconic Baylor functions went "green" in 2009-2010, including Commencement, Sing, Bearathon and Diadeloso, as well as move-in and move-out days at student residence halls. The Office of Sustainability helped campus organizations host green social events and volunteer with athletics recycling and energy conservation campaigns. The report also praised Baylor Dining Services for offering more organic and locally grown foods and reducing Styrofoam use by offering "Eco-to-Go" reusable containers for take-out meals.

Honored efforts

For its efforts, Baylor's sustainability program has been recognized with numerous awards from a variety of organizations, from the National Wildlife Federation to Keep Texas Beautiful. Last October, the university received its highest-ever grade in the 2011 College Sustainability Report Card, compiled by the Sustainable Endowments Institute. Baylor earned an overall grade of "B," an entire letter grade jump from 2010 and only a half-letter grade away from making Baylor one of the top sustainable campuses in Texas.

In 2011, the USC hopes to achieve a set of internally established goals that will create a more sustainable community. The goals include:

    • Reduce campus energy consumption by at least 5 percent
    • Reduce or remove Styrofoam from use at athletic venues and on-campus dining facilities
    • Implement additional water conservation strategies in flower beds and campus grounds
    • Annually increase Baylor's diversion rate
    • Expand composting operations

"Baylor has emerged as a leader in sustainability not only among institutions of higher learning, but also leading Christian organizations," Orr said. "This continued growth will benefit our immediate campus community and also will contribute substantially to the broader conversation about sustainability and bless the surrounding communities."

Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media communications, (254) 710-6275

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