Green Committee Minutes of February 9, 2009
In attendance: Ray Bailey (MA), Nancy Wyatt (MA), Dan Wells, Callan Bentley (AN), Diego Hernandorena, Kathleen Odige (MEC), Denny May (AL), Doug Boe (WO), Les Krogh (WO), Bill Chamberlin, Laura Noell (AN), Mitch Markon (LO), and Victor Zabielski (AL).
The meeting began at 3:34pm.
The minutes from the previous meeting were approved with two minor corrections and one addition.
Ray delivered a “chairman’s report” which began with the question of NOVA’s green curriculum status. At our last meeting, Victor Zabielski described a new certificate program in Environmental Science, for example. The committee then asked Ray to investigate what else NOVA is doing in this regard, and he then discussed the issue with: William Gary of the office of Workforce Development, Sheri Robertson, Associate Vice President for Academic Services, and George Gabriel of the office of Institutional Research (OIR). William Gary is willing to come talk to our committee. Ray reported that he is interested, and is in the early stages of incorporating “green” thinking into NOVA’s program. Sheri Robertson told Ray that there is no overarching plan; but sustainability education is happening on an informal and frequent basis particularly in vocational programs such as …., which are all “going green” or adding green components to some extent. Other programs include Parks and Recreation, Travel and Tourism, Auto and Engineering, Architecture and Interior Design, Construction Management, and Horticulture all are “going green” to some extent. Ray reported that OIR intends to survey the regional economy’s proportion of so called “green-collar” jobs in the future.
Nancy Wyatt pointed out that the Wal-Mart Foundation is giving away millions of dollars for green education, etc. This could be a potential source for partnerships. Laura Noelle noted that the Grants office will help us write proposals.
Ray then announced that the VCCS has announced a Green Task Force for the state, and that Bill Chamberlin of our committee is a member of that task force. Laura asked Bill what the task force’s “charge” is. Bill replied that he had no idea, that he only agreed to be part of a group looking at environmental options, and the next thing you know, he’s on this task force. Ray reminded everyone that the task force’s mission is outlined in the announcement e-mail, and read it aloud: “The Chancellor has instructed the task force to consider the following issues: Develop environmental sustainability priorities related to construction, renovation and the operation of facilities, doing so in a manner to recognize both related costs and potential savings and benefits; Identify opportunities to work with community partners to support and promote environmental sustainability; Recommend curricula enhancements and new workforce programs that respond to the growing “green” economy; Evaluate contracting procedures with a goal of implementing procurement practices that promote the use of technologies, products, and practices that are environmentally beneficial.”
Ray then suggested that Bill is an obvious liaison between our committee and this new state-wide task force. Bill concurred, stating that we have a vested interest in having representation there, given our status as the largest institution in the VCCS.
Ray informed the committee that Dr. Templin has been forwarding a lot of information to the committee in the past few months. Ray suggested that this reflects a growing recognition that NOVA doesn’t want to be left behind as the higher education community becomes increasingly committed to a more sustainable future. Looking ahead, he suggested that we probably want to be finishing up with our recycling discussions and start thinking about other priorities. He suggested we will eventually want to put together a series of recommendations for Dr. Templin’s consideration.
The next order of business was an update on the recycling programs at our various campuses. Bill Chamberlin noted that AAA’s contract officially ended the day of the meeting, February 9, 2009. On the Fairfax County campuses (Annandale and Medical Education), Fairfax County will be the new contractor. On the other campuses, the AAA (or VHI) contract is being extended on a month-by-month basis. Denny asked for clarification on the specific status of the Alexandria campus, and Bill confirmed that the contract is being extended month-by-month.
The Fairfax program is single-stream: all recyclable commodities will be co-mingled (mixed paper and beverage containers). However, there is a problem: AAA isn’t picking their “toter” containers up; so there is currently no room for Fairfax’s toters. Asked about the contracts for the cleaning crews, Bill reported that they are “ready to go out.” He noted that because of his rewriting the cleaning contract, recycling is now an official requirement of cleaning contractor services: it is more clearly defined.
Nancy noted that, thanks to her calling them, the Pepsi Company is interested in providing recycling containers to the entire College. These containers would bear the Pepsi logo, and be made from recycled Pepsi bottles. Ray noted that it would be hard to know just how many containers to ask for, considering that we don’t yet have a firm list of what’s going to be recycled in the various campuses’ municipalities. Bill said that each campus will have to sort out its own details of what can be recycled with their local municipality. On a different topic, he also noted that these free containers likely would not be needed by the Annandale and Medical Education campuses. Victor asked Nancy if she could get some sample containers, and Nancy said she would ask Pepsi.
Victor asked if the high value of white paper, whether it would be worth it for a separate white paper recycling contract, which could then generate revenue. Bill replied that it is not worth it at current prices of $10 to $15 per toter. “When it’s $60/toter, then it’s worth it.”
Laura asked when the new Sanitors contract will be in place. Dan Wells said that bids would be in by the end of the month, and then 45 days after that we should have it solidified. Ray pointed out that this coincides approximately with the end of the academic year.
Denny May pointed out that there are significant environmental reasons for choosing aluminum cans over plastic bottles, with the goal of suggesting to our dining and beverage suppliers to switch to more cans and fewer bottles. However, Nancy and Ray pointed out that the suppliers were merely responding to consumer choice. Many beverage drinkers prefer a container they can close and open repeatedly, and others worry about breaking a fingernail opening a metal can’s pop-top tab.
This temporarily closed the topic of recycling; however it would also come up again at the end of the meeting.
The next topic was a recap of the speeches by Mike Tidwell at the Annandale and Alexandria campuses on February 5. Tidwell’s political viewpoint was a surprise to some attendees, while others reported being very energized by the presentation. Denny said that the Alexandria event was the largest event he has ever seen at that campus. Callan reported that photos and video would soon be available of the Annandale event, and Laura offered to write up an Intercom article on the events. Ray said that by participating in this national movement, these two events make us look good.
The committee then discussed some other topics: information technology, buildings, paper, and energy use.
The discussions began with a brief notification that the long-term plan presented via e-mail by Steve Sachs of the IT department noted that they have committed to buying Energy Start computers, printers, and equipment when future purchasing needs arise.
Dan Wells noted that although the College hasn’t made an explicit commitment to LEEDS certification for new buildings, we come quite close simply because the industry standards have evolved to be more environmentally friendly. The College policy is to go for the greenest building we can afford. The LEEDS certification involves extra costs in design and construction. Dan pointed out that even though the new Manassas campus Phase III building is being built to LEEDS Silver levels, NOVA would still have to pay extra to have it officially certified.
Callan then brought up the issue of paper, suggesting that the committee might recommend a College-wide policy of setting the copy machines’ default setting to “two-sided” rather than single-sided. Mitch noted that his campus had already done that. Ray liked this focus on reducing consumption in the first place, in addition to other maxims of reusing and recycling. Callan also noted a free service provided by the Duplicating Services office in the basement of the Brault Building: they will take one-sided paper and bind it together into notepads for faculty and staff use. Once a sufficient amount of single-sided paper is collected, forward it to them with a Printing Services Request form, and they will bind and cut it into notepads at no cost. Mitch asked whether we could specify that future orders of NOVA letterhead and stationary be made from recycled paper. It was suggested that Leslie Bosch was the person to ask about that. Callan will ask her about it. Apparently, since the time Laura wrote last year’s Intercom article about the College’s various green initiatives, we have switched back to using non-recycled paper. All paper apparently comes from the Annandale warehouse, and Mitch volunteered to look into getting them back on the track of purchasing recycled paper.
The last new topic to be raised was energy consumption. Callan met the previous week with Derek Hodge, who gave him some details about the electrical and heating energy consumed at the Annandale campus. The VCCS has contracted with a company called TAC to monitor and reduce our energy costs over the next fifteen years. TAC has redone the HVAC system at the Woodbridge campus and most of the buildings at Annandale. They rebuilt the Annandale central plant, and installed new lighting, motion sensors, etc. Nancy asked if the contract is working: are we saving enough energy to justify the costs of the contract? Dan said that it’s one of those things where we will never really know, but certainly we are saving energy. Callan reported on a moment-to-moment display of each Annandale building’s electricity consumption. Laura suggested using this data for a pilot study – taking one building and adjusting its settings to see if we can bring its energy consumption down. Callan said that this is exactly where he was going with investigating the topic. Furthermore, he wanted to make it an academic exercise for one of his classes. Callan requested permission to (a) access the TAC data and be e-mailed their monthly reports, and (b) share energy consumption data with students for the purposes of their making energy calculations. The committee voted and unanimously approved these permissions. It was suggested that Callan pass on the “being CC’ed on TAC reports” vote to Bill Chamberlin (who had left at that point) as a courtesy, and the “sharing energy data with students” vote to VP Miguel Garcia as a courtesy.
In the final minutes of the meeting, additional recycling discussions ensued. Denny asked for clarification as to when Alexandria’s contract would be up. He also asked about when the new trash removal contract would go out to bid. Nancy suggested that Bill and the crew at facilities were waiting to hear from the non-Fairfax campuses as to specifics about what would be recycled with the contacts that Bill dispensed to us at a previous meeting. Denny wondered who exactly was responsible for negotiating those details with the local municipalities. It was agreed by all that we needed clarification on these details; until then, the recycling programs at Woodbridge, Alexandria, and Manassas will be in limbo. Mitch agreed to be the point-man to ask Ed Mellon for a complete contract update.
The meeting was adjourned at 5:12pm.