From installing solar panels to using “green” cleaning products, the University of San Francisco is stepping up efforts to minimize its impact on the environment.
“Doing the right thing for society is the first consideration,” said Mike London, assistant vice president for facilities management.
As part of that process, USF is installing new solar panels on top of the Koret Health and Recreation Center, University Center, Cowell Hall, and Kalmanovitz Hall. Together with the solar panels already on Gleeson Library, the panels will produce about 16 percent of lower campus’ peak electricity needs.
Currently, USF’s co-generation plant produces about half of lower campus’ peak energy needs. Located in the basement of Gleeson Library, the plant converts natural gas into electricity. The plant gets its co-generation designation because it captures heat lost during the conversion process and uses that to provide some of the heat lower campus uses. The plant provides about 38 percent of lower campus’ heating needs.
Additionally, the university uses thermal panels on top of Phelan, Gillson, and Hayes-Healy halls to provide some of the hot water needed in those halls.
Other green initiatives on campus include water conservation through the installation of automatic flush devices on toilets and a review of automatic devices on sink faucets; use of biodegradable, environmentally friendly cleaning products; and incorporation of “green” building practices in construction, including the renovation of Kalmanovitz Hall (formerly Campion Hall).
Already, some of the university’s environmental efforts have garnered national attention. This year, USF earned fifth place in a recycling competition among more than 200 colleges and universities.
The competition also took into consideration composting, which the university began about a year ago. Through the composting of food waste from the kitchen and cafeteria, USF has been able to prevent about 36 tons of material per month from being thrown out. That is in addition to the 95 tons per month that are diverted through USF’s recycling program. The result is about 63 percent of USF’s waste being diverted from landfills.
As the composting program becomes more established, that diversion rate could increase. Bon Appetit, the university’s food service provider, composts all food waste from its kitchens. In the cafeteria, compost bins are available for anything that was alive at one point—the cardboard to-go containers, paper napkins, paper sauce cups, wax-coated soda cups, and to-go utensils can all be composted.
Additionally, Bon Appetit at USF purchases 80 percent of its food from within a 150-mile radius, said Holly Winslow, resident district manager. Doing so cuts down on the gas needed to transport food to the university and, by extension, the university’s impact on the environment.