Heat Wave News! Please Conserve Energy!

The current heat wave we are experiencing throughout the state has resulted in an exponential rise in our electricity cost. The heat wave is projected to last into next week and campus constituents are urged to be aware of electricity usage in their offices, labs, residence halls and other spaces. Georgia College purchases electricity on an hourly basis, and those hourly prices are projected to increase by 400 percent to 800 percent during the peak hours of 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. This translates to an additional $12,000 in cost each day.

We ask that you look around your place of work or residence and turn off anything that will not be needed for immediate use. Consider turning off lighting if you have windows which can provide natural light. If you need light, please try to turn it off when you leave your office. Lighting, in particular, produces a double savings of electricity when it is turned off, because less heat is added to the work space and therefore less cooling is required. We also ask that if you have a thermostat in your area, to set the temperature to 75 F. Additionally, turn off computers, monitors, printers, copier machines, lab instruments and other equipment as you leave for the day. All of these activities will help tremendously.

Facilities Operations will do its part by turning off classroom lighting when not needed, turning off individual AC units where possible in unused spaces and shutting down hot water pumps and equipment where feasible. If Facilities Operations staff members attempt to turn off lighting or AC equipment in areas where it needs to remain on, please inform them of the need and they will gladly accommodate the requirement.

If you work in a building that is lightly occupied after 3 p.m., please use the contact information below and we can work on relocating those remaining employees to the library or another facility. This will allow us to reduce the cooling provided to that building.

Those of us in the Georgia College Department of Facilities Operations would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for your cooperation and understanding in this matter. When we work together to take basic steps to conserve energy, we enable the university to save money that can be directed to more pressing needs which serve the academic, research and outreach mission.

If you have comments or questions, please do not hesitate to call/email the following contacts:
• Mark Duclos, director of Facilities Operations, 478-445-6546, mark.duclos@gcsu.edu
• Lori Strawder, assistant director for Sustainability, 478-445-7016, lori.strawder@gcsu.edu

Mark Duclos
Director Facilities Operations

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4th Annual Campus Green Initiative Fund Symposium

The Campus Green Initiative Symposium on April 23, 2015 featured keynote speaker Gary Ferguson, an accomplished author and lecturer.  Mr. Ferguson delivered an engaging 45-minute lecture on how to get America back to the heyday of environmental appreciation.  The audience of over 100 was treated to a short history of the American environmental movement, and a call to action to recover the energy and commitment of the past and apply their lessons to today’s important issues.

Gary Ferguson at the 2015 Campus Green Initiative Fund Symposium.

Gary Ferguson at the 2015 Campus Green Initiative Fund Symposium.

Mr. Ferguson began revealing his legacy with the story of  Joe Knowles, a Bostonian dared by a local newspaper to spend two months alone in the Maine wilderness.  This event, while later stained by scandal, demonstrated that Americans have ‘sap in their veins.’  There was an explosion of nature writing and voyages into the wilderness to follow.  The environmental revolution of the 1960’s served to reveal human desires to live within nature and not poison our ‘Spaceship Earth.’  Mr. Ferguson delightfully articulated motivations to promote environmentalism from strictly economic terms to Joseph Campbell‘s vision of ‘humans healing through space.’

The pathway to an environmentally-inspired future lies in our ability to take small steps to create success.  Mr. Ferguson recommends achieving a ‘full ecology’ for all people, with dignity for humans and all species, built at the ‘ground level.’  He called on the audience to ‘be of your own hour’ and live for the protection of the natural world in three ways: 1) Find beauty and let it still you; 2) build community with self and nature; and 3) retain mystery as the source of all science and art.

The keynote address was followed by a one hour question and answer session with Mr. Ferguson and a panel of noted scholars:

Panelists join Mr. Ferguson at the 2015 CGIF Symposium for a question and answer session on environmentalism in the current era.

Panelists join Mr. Ferguson at the 2015 CGIF Symposium for a question and answer session on environmentalism in the current era.

Students were invited to ask questions of the speaker and panelists, including:

  • How can students get involved in protecting the natural world?
    • Find a passion in the outdoors, such as hunting or fishing.  Discover ways to reduce consumption of animal agriculture.  Think globally, act locally.  Imagine if everyone took good care of herself.  Listen to each other.
  • How can a small town ‘Act Locally?’
    • Work with the City Council and the local department of natural resources.  Engage local farmers.  Investigate options and plans, such as what to do with the abandoned Plant Branch coal facility.  Plant more native species and attract local pollinators.  Get local people fired up about clean water and air.
  • What are some tips for making a career out of environmentalism?
    • Learn how to talk with people, and how to relate to them.  Think critically and make good decisions.  Develop your argumentative skills in order to better persuade people.  Pay more attention to how to fix the problems and don’t dwell on what’s not working.  Learn how to force a paradigm switch.
  • How do we get over ‘the hump’ of building a sustainable society?
    • Avoid ‘soul death’ caused by too much ego illusion.  Learn how to be alone and enjoy the experience of failure.  Change starts one person at a time.  Be patient; it’s a never-ending battle.
  • Are Health Sciences related to Sustainability?
    • Yes, certainly.  Grief is related to one’s emotional ground.  There are links between the Earth, Air, Water, and Food to the human body.  Good food is good for the planet.
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Physics Students Propose Energy and Water Improvements for Herty Hall

The April GreenBag Series discussion featured Physics majors Michael Crawford, Rhett Roberts, Parker McNair, Wenu Mutunda, Kyle Sorrells, and Jairus Elarbee.  As part of their senior research project, these students recently conducted an extensive study of enery and water use in Herty Hall.  Under the supervision of Dr. Hauke Busch, they examined heat loss through windows and doors, lighting (in)efficiencies, cooling systems, and potential water conservation designs.  The students came up with unique designs that could reduce carbon emissions and save hundreds of dollars per month.  Their presentation received a very encouraging reception from Mark Duclos, Director of Facilities Operations.

One of the more interested proposals was a method to capture condensate water from the roof of Herty and use it to irrigate plants in the public greenhouse adjacent to the building.  Over 15,000 gallons of water could be collected during the summer months, when irrigation is most needed.

The study also examined the potential benefits of installing revolving doors on the two front entrances to the building.  This small design improvement alone could cut heating and cooling expenses by $100/month.

For more information, please examine the Thermodynamics Presentation.

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SGA Director of Environmental Affairs Updates University Senate on Recycling Efforts

At the February meeting of the University Senate Resources, Planning, and Institutional Policy Committee (RPIPC) meeting, Student Government Association (SGA) Director of Environmental Affairs Paul Murray presented an informative and thought-provoking update on the GC Recycling Program.  Paul shared information from his recent conversations with Campus Life, University Housing, the Dean of Students, and the Sustainability Council.  Following a campus waste audit in November, Paul was able to make certain recommendations to RPIPC.  The committee reported back several excellent suggestions and ideas.

Perhaps the main recommendation is to provide more support to Facilities Operations to eliminate problems from our current implementation.  Paul believes that Facilities Operations should  have additional staff, perhaps a Recycling Coordinator, to promote and increase recycling.  We would benefit by having training for staff, students, and faculty on how to recycle and why it is beneficial to our campus community.  Paul suggests that we continue a ‘top-down’ approach, from the President’s Office, echoed by multiple administrators and officers.  There should be positive incentives for reducing waste and cutting costs, which one day might accumulate to provide funding for student scholarships and help pay for any additional staffing required to accomplish our goals.

Georgia College is currently taking part in Recyclemania, a two-month competition between universities across the continent.  Our reporting has been sporadic because of problems we have with quantifying waste and recycling, as well as a lack of a designated Recycling Coordinator.  Our peer institutions have achieved much greater success with their recycling reporting.

The members of RPIPC offered many excellent suggestions and ideas, including:

  • Provide information kiosks near recycling bins so that members of the campus community can see how we are doing
  • Involve more student workers to promote and carry out recycling
  • Dedicate substantial attention to recycling education in housing and academic programs
  • Create a competitive spirit for recycling, including prizes for the residence halls or student organizations that contribute the most
  • Identify external funding to create a recycling institute that serves the campus and the community, as a part of ENGAGE or other programs
  • Tour successful recycling operations at nearby universities, such as University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, and Emory University

For additional information on recycling at Georgia College, please refer to the Sustainability Council web site for recycling.

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Green Bag Series Discusses Bike Share and Bike Friendly University

At the February Green Bag Discussion Series, GC Director of Parking and Transportation Ryan Greene presented current news on the Bike Share program, our efforts to become a Bike-Friendly University, carpooling to campus, and the Fishing Creek Community Trail.

Ryan has been working with student leaders to help create a Bike Share program, whereby several dozen bicycles would be made available to students, staff, and faculty for use around campus and town.  The bicycles encourage healthy lifestyles, recreation, and cut down on automobile traffic and parking problems.  Ryan and a group of dedicated activists have identified several alternatives, including 1) an in-house program paid for and operated by Georgia College, 2) a third-party vendor solution such as Gotcha Bike which would be paid for by advertising sponsors and operated by a national vendor, and 3) some combination of those two options in the event that we are unable to attract major external funding.  The cost of a program is dependent upon the type of bikes, how many bikes, and what type of locking and check-out mechanisms are used.  Ryan estimates that a program with 20 bikes running for three years would cost about $72,000.  The benefit of the third-party solution is that a bulk of the expenses could be covered from advertising revenue placed on the bikes themselves.


Ryan also updated the attendees on current efforts to qualify Georgia College as a Bike-Friendly University, a program run by the League of American Bicyclists.  The application for this important designation is being completed by Ryan’s office.  The Bicycle Friendly University program evaluates applicants’ efforts to promote bicycling in five primary areas: engineering, encouragement, education, enforcement and evaluation/planning.  Qualifying would enhance recreation and wellness opportunities on campus and attract attention to our efforts to make Georgia College more sustainable by providing alternative transportation options.

In related developments, Ryan shared his efforts to promote a system to enhance ride-sharing among students, staff, and faculty.   Georgia College has an outdated Ride Share board online, but it is not getting much use, and there was a discussion on ways to encourage more students to share rides to and from campus.  Ryan would like assistance developing a convenient and efficient online solution to help commuters identify and contact willing riders or drivers to share driving, and reduce the need to develop additional parking spaces.  Ryan mentioned that his department recently conducted a study for the construction of a parking garage at the Montgomery & Liberty St. lot; the estimate for a parking structure works out to $32,000/space, which makes bicycles and carpooling a lot more attractive!

Ryan also discussed plans in the works to develop the Fishing Creek Community Trail, a multi-use trail from the Oconee River Greenway to West Campus and beyond.  President Steve Dorman and other community leaders have hired a consultant to develop a design plan, and are identifying stakeholders for funding and grants.  This trail would help connect West Campus to Main Campus with a contoured path along the creek that would go under the highways and allow students to bike to class without having to worry about traffic on the main roads.

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Tree Campus USA

Wednesday Nov. 5th 2014: Mr. Guy Wells donated 8 Dogwood trees to the GC Campus in honor of the 125th Anniversary. This kicks off the Environmental Science Club’s planting of 250 trees on campus over the remaining academic year! Hopefully this will spark a lead on developing Tree Campus USA at Georgia College!

Here is Mr. Wells with Environmental Science Club President: Paul Murray, Gardening Club President: Linsday Crowe, and Wesley Randall of the Campus Green Initiative Fund Committee.


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Green Bag Discussion: Dr. Mark Causey

The November Green Bag Discussion Series featured an excellent presentation by Dr. Mark Causey, Philosophy & Liberal Studies professor.  Dr. Causey talked about the economic, environmental, and health impacts of eating animals, as well as the ethical issues we typically ignore when choosing to consume meat, fish, and dairy products.

A key environmental impact of eating animals, especially cows, is the tremendous production of greenhouse gasses, not just carbon dioxide, but especially methane and nitrous oxide.  Along with this comes severe deforestation and land degradation, as well as water pollution and resource depletion.Vegan Food Guide

Over 30% of the Earth’s land area is dedicated to animal agriculture, and 80% of the land in the US is used to make meat and dairy products.  Seventy percent of all grain produced in the world is fed to animals, but that brings on several inefficiencies, as it takes 16 pounds of grain to make one pound of meat!

Several students contributed their experiences with vegetarian diets, including a talk about where on campus to get a decent vegetarian lunch.  Dr. Causey, a long-time vegan, shared ideas about protein, vitamin B12, and food politics.  We learned that Patrik Baboumian, one of the strongest humans in the world, lives entirely off a vegan diet.

Dr. Causey concluded the discussion with a conversation on how to approach people who act defensive when someone declares themselves to be a vegetarian or vegan.  “To eat meat is a conscious choice,” said Dr. Causey.  “But people living in the mainstream don’t have to explain their decision to consume sentient living beings, and they assume that they are in the right.”

Dr. Causey’s Presentation

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