The new Arts & Sciences Building at IU Northwest that opens this year will be certified “LEED Silver”. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and represents Indiana University’s commitment to a responsible approach to environmental sustainability in all new construction and major renovation projects. Building and renovating to LEED standards in publicly-supported projects is a very visible way in which IU fulfills its educational promise to Indiana, by showing the different ways in which a large organization (like IU), as well as individual members of its constituent campuses, can make a difference and model sustainable practices.
A quick look round the IU Northwest campus reveals many opportunities that encourage members of the campus community to think and act sustainably. One of the easiest commitments is to use the blue recycling bins that are found in hallways, the Library and (for employees) beside desks, for paper, bottles and cans. Recycling (along with using the trash containers) keeps the interior and outdoor campus environment clean and attractive and collects material for reuse. IU Northwest was the first IU campus to take recycling to the next level when it installed Big Belly Solar Compactors at several campus locations. These compactors are conveniently located, accept all recyclable materials and periodically use energy captured by solar panels to compact the recyclables, which manages them more efficiently.
Students and colleagues can also cut down on plastic water bottles by using their own containers that can be conveniently refilled (for free) at stations on campus. And, for those with electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles, there are four recharging stations in the north parking lot, near the Savannah Center, where a recharge takes four hours and costs about $1.00.
There are many sustainability connections with academic programs on campus, including the Community Garden at the corner Washington and 35th Avenue that is sponsored by the Center for Urban and Regional Excellence. Keeping our laboratories safe from fumes relies on high-volume hoods that consume a great deal of electricity and the Shut the Sash campaign, when the hoods are not in use, helps to save on energy use. The Biology Department maintains a prairie and wetlands preserve just North of the IU Northwest campus, as well as the Northwest Indiana Restoration Monitoring Inventory, which create applied field experiences for students. The Geosciences Department features many opportunities for students to engage directly with the Northwest Indiana environment, in programs such as the Great Lakes Innovative Stewardship through Education Network (GLISTEN). Not-for-profit organizations that work to sustain the regional environment also offer internships and other experiential learning opportunities for students.
IU’s University Information Technology Services (UITS) has created an increasingly digital and wireless academic and working environment on campus, but university students, faculty and staff still use and generate a significant amount of paper. IU Northwest is an active participant in an Indiana University initiative to cut down on the amount of paper that is produced and stored. The IU Electronic Document Management (EDM) project guides campus offices to make digital copies of paper documents that, customarily, have been kept and stored in the file cabinets that are such a familiar part of office environments everywhere. The Academic Affairs, Finance and Chancellor’s offices are collaborating on EDM and the results are already apparent, in full recycling bins and surplus file cabinets.
Students also have access to resources that help them to both manage their needs for printed material in a sustainable way and save money. Learn more information about RedHawk Print services for students.
IU Northwest also contributes to a sustainable environment in a very traditional way: by pitching in and helping to remove trash and debris from our University Park neighborhood. Members of the campus community can join the Brother-to-Brother program and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs in their annual Earth Day Clean-up, on Saturday, 22 April 2017 (Earth Day 2017). The Earth Day Clean-up is supported by the resources of the IU Northwest Physical Plant Department.
Indiana University and IU Northwest are committed to sustainability and, while there remain many ways to continue to improve, our campus has many of the fundamentals in place, which enables individual members of the campus community to develop their own sustainable commitments and habits.