NSO Sustainability Component

nsoNew Student Orientation introduces new students to Penn State’s campus and culture in the months before they begin their freshman year.  New students come into Penn State without knowing how our campus implements sustainability.  Why not include different initiatives to help familiarize students with sustainable practices already in place around the campus?

The SSAC is recommending that the university incorporate a sustainability component into the New Student Orientation schedule to educate students on sustainable practices around campus in order to reduce our carbon footprint in accordance with Penn State’s strategic plan.


First Year Seminar Sustainability Class Module

libraryFirst year students at Penn State are required to take an introductory seminar course. This course introduces students to a number of campus resources including:

  • Penn State Libraries
  • Penn State Equity Resources
  • Resources for Student Life

Why not introduce them to Penn State’s mission of sustainability?

The SSAC is recommending that the university develop a class that seminar addressing Penn State’s sustainability resources and initiatives that instructors can request be taught in their classes.  For this new opportunity to teach students about Penn State sustainability, multiple classes would be developed through the Sustainability Institute or through the Sustainability Minor curriculum.  Seminar instructors would pick a sustainability topic to be discussed related to courses.

Energy Ambassadors could be instructed in teaching this course.  This could be a tremendous use of the future Energy Ambassadors program (discussed in Energy/Fiscal), and will be researched more thoroughly as this recommendation and the Energy Ambassadors program continue to be developed.

Furthermore, Penn State will be evaluating courses for sustainability:

  • Initiative to restructure courses to implement multiple sustainable course topics together in two classes taken in the same semester.
  • The SSAC will contact Maggie Slattery to discuss, and collaborate.

We would like to recommend support for this initiative.


Green2Go Redevelopment

green2goLast fall, Food and Dining Services provided a Green2Go program that involved reusable to-go containers rather than traditional styrofoam. Due to logistical issues, the program was not popular with students, and Food Services went back to providing styrofoam containers for to-go meals.  Problems included:

  • Green2Go containers not being returned.
  • Students having to purchase multiple Green2Go if they forgot their carabiner and/or green container.
  • Students found it inconvenient to carry Green2Go, especially those with a busy schedule.
  • Students didn’t like the up-front costs.

The SSAC is recommending that the university explore (with further help of the SSAC) the following possible ideas for redevelopment of Green2Go:

  1. Residence Hall Return Bin
  2. Free Containers – Welcome Week
  3. Charge for Lost/Damaged Containers

MorningStar Solar Home

Fall 2016 Update:

The SSAC plans to pick up this recommendation again in the Spring of 2017 when the Sustainability Institute has welcomed the new Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) for the university.  OPP and Sustainability Institute have expressed their support for this idea and have said that they’d help in the management efforts of the MorningStar home.

Original Recommendation:

The SSAC has identified an underutilization of the MorningStar Solar Home, located in east campus by the stadium.  The MorningStar Solar Home needs a “home”.  SSAC has recommended that the university consider placing the MorningStar under the direction of the Student Affairs department.  This reorganization would allow for the university to use the MorningStar Solar Home to foster diverse exchanges amongst visitors in one of the most heterogeneous, collaborative projects on campus.

The university did something similar with the Stone Valley Recreation Area.  Before Stone Valley fell under Student Affairs, the site was an underutilized resource.  Now, a number of exchanges and programs, both recreational and academic, take place at Stone Valley.  The MorningStar Solar Home can become a powerful tool to foster these diverse exchanges while also teaching about energy usage and reduction.  Furthermore, the SSAC recommends the university advocating for the MorningStar site in their upcoming Capital Campaign.

East Halls In-Room Waste Bin Pilot Program

Currently, less than 20% of recyclables are recycled in the residence halls on campus.  The Education subcommittee has developed a recommendation over the last two semesters regarding this problem and how it can best be solved.  A provisional pilot program that would provide recycling bins to the residence hall rooms has been recommended to further encourage recycling habits (currently, recycling bins exist only in the hallways and common areas of the residence halls).

A survey has been sent out to students via the Association of Residence Hall Students (ARHS) to better analyze the student preferences and opinions surrounding this topic.  The aim of the survey is to better understand what the best approach to recycling education can be to best encourage more recycling in the residence halls.  Further development of this recommendation will occur when the results of the survey come in.

Waste-Free HUB Portal

A HUB Portal will be constructed in the HUB to direct and assist students in finding where to pursue their interests on campus.  Penn State is working with Gallagher and Associates to develop and design the HUB Portal.  As a part of this process, the SSAC submits their recommendation to the design of the HUB Portal.  The SSAC recommends that the HUB Portal be a paper-free facility, free from flyers and printouts.

Furthermore, the SSAC recognizes the need for information sharing at the proposed HUB Portal, and recommends that instead of flyers and printouts, email information access is established for the students in which all information accessed is saved on a dashboard and sent to the student via email.  The SSAC believes that with this method, money can be saved while having a positive impact on the environment as well.

Standardized Digital Signage

To further reduce the need for paper on campus, the SSAC recommends a centralized system of digitized signage.  Currently, some colleges have digitized signage; however, bulletin boards filled with paper still hang on the walls of most of the shared buildings on campus.  This centralized system would establish one format across each college and would allow for digital signage in the shared buildings.  The SSAC recommends that this new digitized signage be accessible to students and student organizations, who would be able to post and therefore eliminate the need for paper flyers.

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