SMU goes green
Published: Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
Classrooms and students LEED campus GREEN initiatives.Evergreen grass, freshly cut lawns, rows of leafy green trees: SMU's campus is no slouch in landscaping, even if it's what's inside that matters the most.
SMU's lush landscaping has been recognized by the Grounds Management Society for "exceptional grounds maintenance," and it leads the state of Texas in green sustainability buildings. In 2006, J. Lindsay Embrey, which houses the mechanical, environmental and civil engineering departments, was the first university building in Texas to be certified gold LEED.
The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System means buildings, like Embrey's classrooms, are designed to save energy and essentially, to recycle. Embrey is certified gold because it was built to reduce the need for indoor lighting. Its large windows and central three-story column allow the building to run on daylight.
SMU is also the primer university to implement waterless urinals campus wide. These urinals save 40,000 gallons of water annually.
Michael Paul, executive director of facilities management and sustainability at SMU, believes the greatest accomplishment SMU has made in being a green campus is the LEED buildings.
"A huge amount of credit with this accomplishment [LEED certified buildings] goes to Dean Orsak who pushed for the very first LEED building, then pushed that it be gold," Paul said. "Then Carl Sewell and President Turner, with a handshake, agreed that all future SMU buildings would be LEED certified, when practical."
The next building expected to be certified gold LEED is Caruth Hall, which opened this spring and will be a part of the Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering. Tiana Lightfoot Svendsen, incoming chair of the sustainability committee, said she is most excited about new projects at SMU that involve LEED buildings, single stream recycling and environmentally focused academic programs. Svendsen said strengthening student involvement on campus is the key to fueling environmental accomplishments.
"First-year students can get involved in green efforts by joining the Environmental Society or Students for a Better Society," Svendsen said.
"These groups ocus on promoting events like "Recyclemania," a yearly recycling competition amongst campuses across the nation and eco friendly music festival."
Opportunities for a green campus seem endless. Students may draft environmental legislation by becoming a representative for the Student Concerns Committee of the Student Senate, take courses or even minor in Environmental Studies or Environmental Science. Students can also join the Campus Sustainability Committee, which is particularly looking for a student "who is interested in gaining Public Relations experience, by helping with web and news print editing," Svendsen said.
SMU Environmental Society President Andrea Fernandez said she is excited about the growth of interest in the society and projects. This fall, a younger group of individuals will be leading the society, and that makes for "new and hip ideas and a desire to grow," Fernandez said.
"Last semester, we helped out at a Black Eyed Peas concert and got to see them for free," she said. "More [opportunities like] this will be available as the group grows and events need more help with recycling and petition signing."
Fernandez urges students to stop by the organization's table at the involvement fair, "A Night at the Club," and check it out on Facebook – SMU Environmental Society. Keeping SMU beautiful and green is a growing initiative, and let's face it — green is the new black.
For more information on SMU's environmental efforts, visit smu.edu/sustainability.