UNCW Physical Plant Recognized for Dedication to Sustainability

Thursday, June 02, 2016

The UNCW physical plant has been awarded the Green Seal of Approval by the UNCW Sustainability Council. The plant was recognized for its outstanding dedication to sustainability throughout the annual conference for the North Carolina chapter of the Association of Physical Plant Administrators, which it hosted in May.

“Hosting the conference gave us an opportunity to showcase our beautiful campus, the infrastructure improvements, as well as show the progress made towards a more sustainable campus,” said David Olson, physical plant interim director.

The Green Seal of Approval is given to university programs, initiatives, policies and projects that support sustainable values. Some of the ways in which the physical plant staff members worked to purposefully make the conference sustainable include:

  • Reducing the amount of paper used by utilizing the mobile app Guidebook to list conference schedule and events;
  • Collaborating with Aramark (the company that oversees campus dining) and the Sustainability Council to plan meals with sustainable packaging (bag lunches instead of box lunches to cut down on paper use; finger foods instead of prepackaged foods; drinking stations for use with refillable bottles and cups instead of bottled water);
  • Providing additional recycling containers to promote composting and recycling of other materials;
  • Working with Printing Services to identify paper products with the highest recycled paper content;
  • Strategically placing signs on campus to minimize the number of signs needed and recycled all of the name badge holders and lanyards to be used again at next year’s event;
  • Renting trolleys and using shuttles to transport participants to minimize the use of personal vehicles on campus and encouraged walking as a healthy alternative.

In addition to sessions on current educational facilities topics such as grounds management and building maintenance, the conference addressed sustainability-related issues such as chiller plant optimization, “green” painting products and paint disposal, LED lighting and data-driven sustainability.

Aramark’s Matt Rogers, resident district manager of campus dining, and Kat Pohlman, UNCW sustainability coordinator, taught a class on aquaponics, the blending of aquaculture and hydroponics to harvest fish, herbs and produce in an eco-friendly way. UNCW’s Wagoner Dinning Hall houses a 250-gallon aquaponics tank that is used for meals cooked on campus.

Olson thanked his staff, campus catering director Kristin Shelton, Aramark and Pohlman. “Together, we planned the conference to have a low-environment impact with sustainability as our top priority. We could not have done it without so much support,” he said.

-- Caroline Cropp