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Although there are many ways to clean the environment, preventing pollution is the best solution. At the University of Saint Francis, the values held by Saint Francis of Assisi, our namesake, are followed. He held dear the natural world. Because of his values, the university pledges to the Franciscan value “Respect creation and use resources wisely.” The University of Saint Francis has taken many steps to reduce the impact made on the environment and cut energy costs.

The University of Saint Francis has started a Green Campus Initiative. The goal of the Green Campus Committee is to continually strive to implement green practices. Simply enough, the university follows the reduce, reuse and recycle system. Saint Francis has been awarded the Allen County Solid Waste Management 3R award for excellence in recycling, reuse, and waste reduction. This award was achieved by many simple steps taken towards a more green campus.

In the new housing built on campus, many energy-saving systems were put into place. Contractors were asked to sign a Green Campus Construction Initiative Contract. In this contract, they had to agree to uphold sustainability practices and resourcefully use or recycle all materials with minimal amounts sent to landfills. Low-flow shower heads, toilets, and aerators have led to a 16% (1.5 million gallons) reduction in water use. Thermostats with external controls to prevent overuse were installed. Insulation was made from recycled newspapers. Energy efficient windows and HVAC systems keep the building sealed to help prevent air leakage. These measures have led to a 39% reduction in natural gas consumption for heating. Whenever students leave for breaks in the school year, they are required to unplug all electronic devices to make sure that no energy is being lost. All windows are checked to be closed and locked to seal the building. The individual thermostats are turned off and are externally controlled.

A huge part of the university’s efforts are towards going paperless. Many things, such as the student handbook (600,000 sheets annually) and student schedules (250,000 sheets annually), are now completely electronic. The Office of Financial Aid will save up to 15,000 sheets per year, and Admissions will save up to 23,500 sheets per year by going paperless. This has been an ongoing transition that will be fully completed by the Fall of 2014.

The University has made many changes to dining that have also helped in reduction efforts. AVI Food Service has instituted “Trayless” eating around campus. Because there are no trays in the dining hall, there is less food waste. Less water is needed because there are no trays that need to be cleaned. Styrofoam cups are no longer used. All cups have been replaced with new biodegradable ones.

Many other steps are taken along with the measures already mentioned. All paper towels and toilet paper is made from recycled paper products. Many cars used for on-campus use are electric. Many bicycle racks have been installed to promote clean commuting to and around campus. Recycle bins are easily accessible for cans, cardboard, paper, and plastic. Many lights have been replaced with newer, more efficient ones.

Even though the University of Saint Francis has taken many steps in the right direction, many other measures could be put into place to continue striving towards green practices. For example, an easy step would be light sensors. Many other businesses and schools have sensors that automatically turn off lights that are not being used. This would help to reduce electricity costs. Another step to take would be allowing more natural light. At Sweetwater Sound in Fort Wayne, a large skylight lets in natural light to reduce the need for artificial lighting. If more natural light were allowed, the university could reduce the amount of electricity needed. The last measure recommended is the installation of solar panels. Although somewhat costly, solar panels would be a great source of renewable energy.

Because of the University of Saint Francis’ dedication to being green, the impact on the environment has been greatly reduced. Just by using the simple steps of reduce, reuse, and recycle, the university is helping the cause; however, there can always be another step taken to help the environment. Every person can do their part to reduce their impact!

Haley Roehm is a student at the University of Saint Francis - Fort Wayne and a finalist for the 2013 SaveOnEnergy.com® Education Scholarship. For more information about SaveOnEnergy's scholarship program, visit our scholarship information page.

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