By Cindy Abole
MUSC took some big steps in the past year to create and establish a more sustainable, green and energy efficient campus for its 12,000 employees and students. And MUSC's Sustainability and Recycling Program has the awards to prove it.
Since spring 2011, MUSC has won multiple community and national awards for its recycling and sustainability efforts.
For the fifth consecutive year, MUSC won in the category of community environmental sustainability awards. In April, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) presented the institution with the 2011 Earth Day Award for its recycling and waste reduction efforts. MUSC's recycling program was recognized for its improved record of recycling 1.4 percent (113 tons) in 1993 to recycling 27 percent (1,325 tons) in fiscal year 2010.
The institution is one of only two institutions in the country to own a shred truck to shred and haul away recyclable paper—properly disposing of confidential papers and documents.
Other recent awards include the 2011 Community Pride Award and the S.C. Energy Managers Award for Energy Project of the Year. These awards were recycling, managing energy and water consumption, supporting public transportation through a park and ride system and other green projects. MUSC also was awarded grants from the Coca-Cola Company's Coke Bin Grant and Kohl's department store's Go Green Program, which provided a $1,500 grant to MUSC's Grounds Department to plant flowers in commemoration of Earth Day, April 22.
This year, MUSC was named among the top nine schools in the country for paper recycling by competing in RecycleMania, an annual competition involving more than 500 colleges and universities across the country.
MUSC Sustainability and Recycling Program manager Christine von Kolnitz Cooley is pleased with the campus' progress and achievements in this direction. "It's MUSC's employees and students who are responsible for making the campus the sustainable, environmentally responsible institution it is today. Our sustainability program is just the support mechanism to everyone's efforts. It takes every department, every person to achieve this in one unified, successful effort."
Recycling efforts have been ongoing on MUSC's campus since 1992. In June 2007, MUSC President Ray Greenberg, M.D., Ph.D., signed the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, a nationwide effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and overall energy consumption.
John Malmrose, chief facility officer, MUSC Engineering and Facilities, supports the efforts of MUSC employees and students for participating in recycling and embracing the campus' sustainability goals.
"We have focused on utility savings projects since 2000 and have implemented 24 projects on our own, which saves over 1 billion BTUs annually. Recently, we hired Ameresco to work on utility savings measures including lighting, water, steam, HVAC and fume hood improvements to save another 1 billion Btus annually. It is these two efforts that have resulted in over $4 million in utilities cost avoidance," said Malmrose.
The Sustainability Program has requested campus members turn out lights and unplug items. MUSC also works with SCE&G and Charleston Public Works to evaluate rates.
The campus continues to be dedicated in its recycling efforts. Employees actively recycle a variety of plastics (#1, #2, #3, #5, and #7); glass bottles; aluminum and steel cans; used toner cartridges, cardboard, batteries, fluorescent bulbs, magazines and phone books and the list continues to grow.
Earlier this year, the medical center began a new recycling program in its operating rooms (OR) that was prompted by university hospital OR nurses Angela Allen, Amenah McDougall and Teresita Hutcheson. Encouraged to promote sustainability in their work areas, they noticed a need to recycle certain items after their use and approached Cooley.
"They were excited and anxious to begin a recycling program in the main OR areas," said Cooley, who approached it as a pilot project. After getting permission, they placed a recycling bin in a specific area where nurses and OR staff were encouraged to place specific recyclables—empty saline bottles and glass medicine vials. The pilot worked so well that Cooley was able to expand OR recycling at Ashley River Tower and the ambulatory OR in Rutledge Tower.
But Cooley and her 10-member sustainability and recycling crew aren't ready to rest on their laurels just now. Cooley hopes to work next with the campus' research community to establish recycling in their areas. She'd also like to see more renewable energy projects and increase the number of built-in recycling centers, areas within office and work areas that accommodate separate bins for recycling paper, plastics, aluminum cans and glass bottles and trash, in more buildings around the 65-acre campus.
For information, call 792-4066 or visit http://academicdepartments.musc.edu/vpfa/eandf/sustainability/.