Recylemania 2013 aiding in 2020 UI sustainability initiative


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From the small blue recycling bins located inside every residence hall room to a new dishwasher and food pulper system in the Hillcrest Marketplace that has resulted in the saving of more than 3,800 gallons of water a day, a slew of sustainability initiatives have been undertaken by the University of Iowa over the past several years.

Now, those initiatives may help the UI win a contest against more than 600 other schools: Recyclemania.

New improvements in the works include the installation of new recycling receptacles along the newly renovated T. Anne Cleary Walkway and deskside recycle containers in the Boyd Law Building.

A partnership that began Sunday with the nonprofit Recyclemania competition is now in motion, and UI officials say a 60 percent sustainable campus by 2020 is of top priority with these new projects in mind.

What began 12 years ago as a challenge between Ohio and Miami Universities to improve recycling participation among students, Recyclemania has today blossomed into a 630-plus higher-education competition across North America with more than 7.5 million members.

According to a press release from the UI Office of Sustainability, the UI will compete in several categories to see which recycles the most on a per capita basis, which produces the least amount of waste and who recycles the largest percentage of their overall waste stream. For a special category, the UI will track how much food waste is composted from UI dining areas. One of the UI’s goals for Recyclemania is to be the top recycler among the Big Ten.

UI recycling coordinator Eric Holthaus said the university’s involvement in the competition this year will help not only draw student awareness and involvement across campus but will also solidify the university’s growing sustainable portfolio.

“Ultimately one of the goals is to reach new audiences and get different people involved based on major and grade, for example. More than $1.5 million worth of materials can be recycled each year,” he said of the UI. “From fiscal year ’12 to fiscal year ’13, we want to increase recycling by 10 percent and reduce waste by 10 percent.”

The UI will submit weight data from food waste, trash and recycle containers each week and with the UI’s UI’s Recyclemania page, officials will be able to see how they measure up against other universities and peer institutions, including Indiana University and Ohio State University.

Holthaus said the outdoor walkway pilot will include placing a number of recycle bins along the perimeter and is being spearheaded by UI Student Government and UI Housing and Dining’s Associated Residence Halls.

The bins, to be located between the Chemistry Building and the Pomerantz Career Center, should be in place sometime after March 1.

Holthaus said the goal is to have five recycling bins paired with five trashcans in that area. Costs of the recycle bins were not available as of Monday evening.

UI Office of Sustainability Director Liz Christiansen said the UI’s commitment to a sustainable future is evident in six recently built or renovated buildings across campus that are LEED-certified in building and design.

Five of the six — Beckwith Boathouse, UI Sports Medicine Clinic, State Hygienic Laboratory, College of Dentistry addition, and the renovation of Stuit Hall — are certified Gold, while the Information Technology Facility was awarded the highest honor, LEED Platinum.

Christiansen said that all new construction buildings must achieve a minimum of a LEED Silver designation.

“The University of Iowa’s Vision 2020 focuses our work in sustainability to address those issues that have the most immediate impact on our carbon footprint – energy, transportation, and resource management,” she said.

“By driving efficiency in these areas, we are able to provide the academic, research, and outreach environment for educating and preparing students to meet the challenges of building a sustainable society and a green economy.”

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