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Earth Island Journal, Spring 2006 | Go to article overview

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Cornell University

How can the Cornell University campus do more when it comes to energy efficiency, recycling, reducing pollution, preserving green areas and other efforts that promote sustainability?

Themes that emerged from the first-ever Campus Sustainability Summit in April 2005 included: brief incoming students on the ways they can help to be more energy efficient and to reduce the waste stream; hire staff to promote and coordinate sustainability efforts on campus; encourage making any new building on campus meet "green" standards; collaborate with the larger community to make a greater effort to support local vendors; and develop a set of indicators to monitor the success of sustainability efforts.

The summit was the centerpiece of Campus Sustainability Month at Cornell, a series of events highlighting the importance of sustainable development on the Ithaca campus, in the region and globally.

Rice University

A new irrigation system is helping Rice University be ecologically friendly while potentially saving more than $43,000 annually in water costs.

Faculties, Engineering and Planning (FE&P) has installed a pumping and irrigation structure, called a "graywater system," that takes runoff water from Rice Stadium and uses it to water the grass on the practice football field.

Assistant Engineer Larry Miggins said the new system will pay for itself in two years.

"Water prices are extremely high [in Houston] and every little bit we can do helps," Miggins said. "This [irrigation] system will save a lot of money."

The idea for using the water was born in 1997 when Miggins assisted with the installation of Astroturf and conversion of a north campus parking lot into the practice field. Miggins read an article published in 1951 that addressed difficulties faced with groundwater during the construction of Rice Stadium that arose from the structure's being built 25 feet below ground. This posed a unique problem, since the university sits only 14 feet above sea level, Miggins said.

By passing a three-inch flexible waterline through an existing 24-inch gas main, Miggins and FE&P staff reached the sump pit where the water was retained before being pumped into a large underground storm sewer called the Harris Gulley. The gulley runs under campus and the Texas Medical Center and then into Braes Bayou.

At the north end zone, a vertical pump and strainer were installed and wired to the sprinkler controller where water was then sent to irrigate the practice field.

"We use a very delicate type of grass turf, and going without water for just three days can burn it up," Miggins said.

Though City of Houston water will remain connected, it will be used only as a backup, Miggins said.

The project was done mostly in-house by using the instrumentation, grounds, electrical and plumbing departments.

"This is the first graywater system on campus, and in the near future I hope to also use the groundwater from Sewall Hall to irrigate the quad from Fondren [Library] to the Alice Pratt Brown music building," Miggins said.

University of Colorado

Defending champions from the University of Colorado took overall honors in the 2005 Solar Decathlon on the National Mall. …

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