Hilltop sustainability finishes strong in spring 2013

The SMU community makes a strong showing for sustainability during spring 2013.

Dallas Hall at Southern Methodist University

Dallas Hall with recycle symbolDALLAS (SMU) – SMU students, faculty and staff made a strong showing for sustainability during spring 2013 – from an impressive state finish in the RecycleMania competition, to saving energy through the Peruna Powerpalooza contest, to two days of exhibits at Fair Park for Earth Day Dallas.

SMU ranked fourth among participating Texas universities and second among Texas private universities in the “Per Capita Classic” during RecycleMania, recycling an average 12.895 pounds of waste per person during February and March. SMU outscored the University of Houston, Rice University, Trinity University, UTSA, Baylor University, UT-Austin, UT-Arlington, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Brookhaven College and the University of North Texas, among others, in the per capita division.

Recyclemania 2013 LogoRecycleMania is a friendly competition and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities to their campus communities. Over an eight-week period each spring, colleges across the United States and Canada report the amount of recycling and trash they collect and are ranked in various categories based on who recycles the most.

The University of Texas Medical Branch won the statewide per capita competition with 24.3 pounds of recycled material per person, followed by Baylor College of Medicine in second place with 16.7 pounds per person and Richland College in third place with 15.8 pounds per person.

SMU’s Environmental Representatives (E-Reps) took the lead in this year’s RecycleMania competition, along with members of SMU’s Sustainability Committee, Sustainability Administrator Kevin Dilliard and SMU Facility Services.  The team used social media to help spread the word, Tweeting and posting to Facebook photos of campus figures like Women’s Basketball Coach Rhonda Rompola and Dedman College Dean Bill Tsutsui as they tossed items into recycle bins,

E-Reps at SMU
SMU's 2012-13 E-Reps
“We think the RecycleMania competition is very important, because it’s important for SMU to be a good citizen in the community and because it’s a great way to teach our students lifelong recycling habits,” said Bonnie Jacobs, chair of the SMU Sustainability Committee.   “I want to congratulate the students in the Hawk/Martin/Moore residential community for winning the RecycleMania competition among residence halls,” Jacobs said. “They recycled 18.8 pounds of material per person!”

Blanton Hall won the competition between administrative buildings, recycling 71 percent of its total waste material, followed by DeGolyer Library with a 68 percent recycling rate and Bidwell Library with 65.5 percent.

“What we are learning is that while SMU is enthusiastic about recycling, we can do a better job,” Jacobs said.  “We want everyone at SMU to know that our single stream system includes all paper and cardboard, plastics (1-7), aluminum, and tin cans.  But glass, greasy paper (such as pizza boxes), food and liquids should be thrown into a trashcan.  If a recycle bin is contaminated by trash, then it won’t make it to the recycle facility at all – and we certainly want to avoid that.”

Just as SMU was completing RecycleMania, the E-Reps and staff members from SMU Facility Services/Aramark kicked off an April 1-21 energy-savings competition between campus residential communities.  Morrison-McGinnis was the grand champion, but the combined participation by students in all the residential communities resulted in a savings of 10,140 kilowatt hours of electricity during the three weeks of competition – enough to power the average home for nearly a year.

SMU Engineering table at Earth Day Dallas
SMU's Lyle Engineering
at Earth Day Dallas
SMU then participated in what is arguably the largest sustainability event in North Texas - Earth Day Dallas at Fair Park April 20-21.  SMU’s Sustainability Committee staffed a booth that featured its popular “Environmental Jeopardy” game, and gave away daffodil bulbs recycled by SMU’s landscaping crews.  Dedman College sponsored a booth that spotlighted the University’s Geothermal Energy Lab, and the Lyle School of Engineering’s student chapter of Engineers Without Borders manned a third booth that allowed hands-on experimentation with PVC pipe like that used to build water filtration devices in developing countries such as Guatemala.

SMU’s Sustainability Committee honored Lyle School of Engineering student Jennifer Lauren Smith with its annual Leadership in Sustainability Award at the University Awards Extravaganza April 15.   Smith, who has been both an E-rep and a member of the SMU Sustainability Committee, organized a widely attended sustainability panel discussion of the documentary “American Meat” in February and the outdoor “Barefoot on the Boulevard” sustainability and music festival in early April.

Lauren Smith and Professor Bonnie Jacobs
Jennifer Lauren Smith (r.) accepts
award from Prof. Bonnie Jacobs
The festival closed with a musical performance by former Sudanese child soldier, now hip-hop artist, Emmanual Jal, who was in Dallas to receive a humanitarian award from SMU’s Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity.

Jewel Lipps
Jewell Lipps
Student Jewell Lipps, another active member of the SMU Sustainability Committee and vice president of the campus Environmental Society, was recently honored as Environmental Representative of the year. SMU’s Environmental Representatives – E-Reps, for short – are 10 students who provide peer role modeling, serve as a resource on sustainability questions and promote environmentally conscious behavior within their assigned residential communities. 

Find out more about sustainability at SMU at www.smu.edu/sustain.

# # #