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From the Suggestion Box

Let us know what you think!

Are you full of great ideas for greening the University of Maryland? Have you encountered a sustainability issue on campus that should be addressed? Do you have a question for UM Go Green?

Drop us a line in the Suggestion Box. Answers will be posted to this page. Check back for your response!

ENERGY

Suggestion:

  • Turn off lights in hallways that are well lit by natural light during day. Case in point: 6th floor between HH & HSF I.

UM Go Green:

  • Hallway lighting in our buildings is controlled by one of the following methods: master lighting control systems, motion sensors or wall mounted light switches. Master lighting control systems are in place in many of our newer buildings such as HSF I & II, SOD, SOP, and SOL. Motion sensors control the hallway lighting in many of our older buildings such as MSTF, BRB, MBI, and SON. Our design standards for building renovation and new construction projects stress the importance of evaluating alternatives for providing more real-time/on-demand control of lighting (e.g. daylight harvesting vs motion detection vs master scheduled). Concerning the specific hallway area mentioned in your suggestion, we are confirming if this zone on all floors can be turned back since this public area lighting in HSF I is controlled by a centralized system.

Suggestion:

  • Have academic buildings turn off lights on weekends or install motion detectors to reduce energy consumption by 28 percent.

UM Go Green:

  • All campus building have an occupied and unoccupied schedule that control the HVAC systems and in our newer buildings many components of the public area lights. Wherever possible we look to turn off lights on weekends. It is our standard practice with all new facility construction and renovation projects to install either master lighting controls or motion sensors as an energy conservation initiative. There are a number of buildings on campus that are slated for lighting retrofit projects. Please let us know if you have a particular space in mind.

Suggestion:

  • All computers should be on "smart strips," which turn all peripherals off when the main device (the processor) powers down. The University should provide these as they will ultimately reap the benefits of lower electricity bills.

UM Go Green:

  • Thank you for your suggestion regarding the smart strips. Any means to reduce energy consumption provides benefit to the University and should be encouraged. Various campus schools and departments have protocols associated with powering down computers during off hours. These protocols are based upon operational requirements, systems updates, and maintenance. Since the "smart strip" is a surge protector with some additional power savings features it should be discussed with your department's IT group to determine if it should be ordered with the PC, printer, etc. As part of our sustainability initiatives, we are always investigating new technologies (e.g. smart plugs and power strips with wireless communications) when they arise and their potential cost/benefits. Many require a significant investment in infrastructure (build-out localized wireless communications network, new enterprise energy-management systems, and/or integration with existing systems, etc.). In most cases, it is only practical to apply the new solutions to new building construction projects.

Suggestion:

  • Install motion sensitive lighting in all working areas.

UM Go Green:

  • It is our standard practice with all new facility construction and renovation projects to incorporate lighting controls into the project scope. We also look to incorporate controls into all our existing building retrofit projects where it is feasible. Please let us know if you have a particular space in mind.

Suggestion:

  • The University should provide timers to all labs so that water baths and similar equipment can be powered down at night and over weekends, but be up to temp every morning when they are needed.

UM Go Green:

  • Plug-in timers are a great solution for energy-conscious consumers who are interested in helping the University's conservation efforts. If you have a particular installation in mind and are willing to allow us to meter the plug load to determine the potential savings, please let us know.

Suggestion:

  • The electrical energy saved and calories exerted when individuals use stairs instead of taking elevators should be posted at each elevator.

UM Go Green:

  • Any action or behavioral change that people can incorporate into their daily lives that improves their well being by burning calories should be encouraged. Your suggestion to avoid elevators by using the stairs and posting the energy saved and calories exerted is one excellent example. However elevator loads are not a significant contributor to building consumption. An example of this is the following: The Saratoga Building's total load in June was 234,300kWhs, while the garage elevator load was only 1,300kWhs or 0.6 percent. Although the elevator hp/kW demand is high, the run-time is very short and therefore, the kWhs are low.

Suggestion:

  • Turning down the air conditioning would not only reduce our carbon footprint, but also reduce the discomfort in our buildings…often way toooo cold even during the hottest summer months…brrrrr.

UM Go Green:

  • As a campus we look to keep temperature settings between the state recommended range of 68 – 78 degrees, with 68 degrees during the winter months and 78 degrees during the summer months. Our goal is to regulate temperatures to 73 deg +/- a degree for most spaces, which is significantly better than the state standard. However due to the numerous types of HVAC systems we have on campus and the various operational requirements they support, there are reasons why it could be cold during the hottest summer months. During occupied periods, the fan systems run constantly to introduce ventilation air and in many cases we are actually using 100 percent outside air that has to be preconditioned before being sent to the occupied space. During periods of high humidity the external, fresh air supply requires additional cooling to a lower temperature in order to remove the excess humidity. As a general comment, in the majority of systems it is actually less expensive to have it colder in the dead of the summer than to make it warmer due to the amount of heating that is required to return the air temp to a more tolerable level.
  • Also in many buildings around campus where there are multiple spaces/offices our design standards allow for one thermostat and supply air box to control three to six offices. The temperature control is set at that stat and the HVAC system can only respond to the location where the thermostat is located. People using personal electric heaters or having heat producing equipment in their spaces significantly contribute to colder temperature issues by overheating their spaces and driving the main system AHU's to discharge colder air through the duct system to respond to the higher heat load. This usually equates to a fair amount of "cold" air being supplied to the room to maintain the design set point of the room but for the other rooms connected to that box it could be interpreted by some as being cold. Anyone experiencing extreme hot or cold conditions is asked to contact our Work Control Center at 6-7570 to report the condition.

Suggestion:

  • Set up at least one electric vehicle charging station. Promote use of LED rather than CFL lights.

UM Go Green:

  • The plans for 10 charging stations are in progress with our Parking & Transportation Services Department. The plan is to have some of these charging stations operational before Winter 2011. Look for addition information on the Parking and Transportation Services website or read about it here. LED lights have great potential and we are currently investigating and assessing the most suitable applications for LED's around campus.

RECYCLING

Suggestion:

  • Why don't we recycle Styrofoam?

UM Go Green:

  • The University does not presently have the logistical infrastructure available to segregate, transport, and recycle Styrofoam; but, it is on our list of target materials for the future. Once our new battery and printer cartridge recycling program is up and running with our existing programs to recycle paper, cardboard, glass/aluminum/plastic/steel containers, electronic scrap, scrap metal, pallets, and fluorescent lamps, we will look to what's next. While we typically target materials that have the highest weight to volume ratio first, which would move Styrofoam down the list a bit, we may be able to move it up by arranging to co-mingle it with the container recycling program. Something to work on.

Suggestion:

  •  Would it be possible for MPRC to have these recycling buckets? We are located at Spring Grove Hospital in Catonsville and the hospital does not recycle anything.

UM Go Green:

  • We do provide certain facilities services at MPRC and we will be able to extend the battery and printer cartridge recycling program there. It will take some additional logistical coordination and implementation there, which will follow the roll out on the main campus.

Suggestion:

  • Provide soda can recycling bins and pick up service for each building. It is amazing how many cans are tossed in the trash daily. 

UM Go Green:

  • While we have over 400 bottle and can recycling containers on campus, it would seem that we may need more. To request a container, contact Vassie Hollamon at vhollamon@af.umaryland.edu

Suggestion:

  • Is there a place on campus to securely recycle CD’s? 

 UM Go Green:

  • While we do not have the equipment to securely dispose of large quantities of CD’s here on campus we can handle the occasional disposal of small quantities. Please contact Vassie Hollamon at vhollamon@af.umaryland.edu to make arrangements to have the materials picked up. For large quantity disposal we would need to contract with an outside vendor and the cost of that service would be passed back to the requester. Please know that this is not a recycling process, but rather a way of destroying sensitive or confidential information. We do not have the means to recycle the resulting rubble.

Suggestion:

  • Hi. The signs over recycling bins are okay, but what we really need are stickers or smaller signs that we can put on the bins so that when we move them around to events the information is always there. I would suggest these: "paper only, no food here, please"; plastic and aluminum, no food"; and for trash cans, "Food and non-recyclables only, please"; or something like that. Your committee can do better, I'm sure. We have made some of these by hand on a label maker and they make a big difference we think. Something that is more colorful and artful would be great. Thanks for all you do and for considering this request.

UM Go Green:

  • Thank you for your suggestion! It's a great idea. UM Go Green is always looking for ways to promote recycling across the University.

Suggestion:

  • Paper recycle and pick up at PATH pediatrics at the harbor at USH.

UM Go Green:

  • As part of our mission, the University routinely reaches outside of the traditional boundaries of our campus to provide care and services to our community, our state, and in distant lands. While our values should go with us wherever the University has a presence, the University's recycling program is funded to support the recycling requirements of the University's campus buildings. When our programs are housed outside of the campus we must look to other means to demonstrate our values. When it is the case that we occupy remote locations as tenants we should require as a condition of our lease that our landlord have recycling and conservation programs in place that meet the requirements of the law as though the facilities were owned by the University. If we occupy a facility where we either own the facility or share its use with another governmental agency we should put contracts and internal systems in place to again meet the letter and the intent of the applicable laws. In the current financial model these extra-campus efforts will need to be funded by the program that is driving the need.

Suggestion:

  • Recycle Styrofoam products, coffee grounds/rinds, etc., into compost. Recycle newspapers, any cardboard products, bottles, plastic, and glass.

UM Go Green:

  • The campus already recycles all types of paper, cardboard, glass, plastic, and metal. Styrofoam can also be recycled with the metal/glass/plastic stream, though the better thing to do is to strive to eliminate the use of Styrofoam completely. Composting of yard waste was once attempted here on campus but was abandoned when we could not manage rodent problems associated with it. To manage a food waste composting program would require that we set up a separate materials handling and storage stream to consolidate these materials uniquely. Given that this waste stream is small and that our current staffing level is limited, a composting program would not at this time seem to be a good use of our limited resources.

Suggestion:

  • Make the Allied Health Building recycling 1) single stream, and 2) easier for cleaning people to empty. They apparently have to walk a very long way to empty recycling (what very few bins we have and few people use). Makes me wonder if what we place in recycling actually ever makes it to recycling… More bins would be helpful--thanks.

UM Go Green:

  • Recycling baskets and containers are available to the entire campus. If there is a need for additional recycling containers in any location please let us know and they will be delivered. We have chosen to not employ a single stream recycling program primarily to avoid the problems of insects and smells in offices. Paper is the predominant recyclable commodity produced in an office and it offers no attractive nuisance where if we co-mingled wet containers or food packaging with it we might cause problems we would rather avoid. It does mean that we make two stops but that time is well worth avoiding a pest problem. In almost every building the recycling is picked up from the building's loading dock or receiving area. In some cases, particularly for very small buildings, the recycling that is collected is transported to an adjacent larger building for pick-up. In every case the recycling is deposited for pick-up at a location prior to reaching the trash compactor. In this way our housekeepers can "lighten their load" by recycling rather than disposing of the materials.

TRANSPORTATION

Suggestion:

  • Hi – I've just started as a social work student. I'm really glad to see that the green initiative has started. One particularly glaring problem I've seen at the University is a lack of adequate bike racks. Particularly lacking is a rack directly in front of the student center or health science library, a central hub of student activity. Right now, locked bikes clog the ramp for disabled people. There are large open spaces in front of the nursing building, library, and student center. The rack in front of the hospital building across the street is usually full during the day when I've tried to lock a bike there. At a school where bike commuting makes so much sense because of the lack of public transportation options and the inconvenience of car parking, it seems like a no brainer to increase bike racks to a rate where bike commuting is convenient and safe.

UM Go Green:

  • Thank you for your suggestion. There are bike racks at the Southern Management Corporation Campus Center and the Health Sciences and Human Services Library (HS/HSL). The bike rack at the HS/HSL is along the building on the Greene Street side. The bike rack for the Campus Center is on the west side of the building near the nursing school connection. It is recognized that this bike rack is not as functional as the others on campus, and facilities management will look into modifying or replacing it so that it can accommodate more bikes. Facilities personnel for the University of Maryland Hospital Center are planning on installing more bike racks in the vicinity of the hospital complex in the very near future. Once they are installed, we will look at the capacity and usage, and determine if more bike racks are needed. If so, additional bike racks will be added at the HS/HSL and the Campus Center. A bike focus group convened a couple of years ago recommended the installation of secure bike cages in one of the campus parking garages. These were installed, but are not heavily used. It is now recognized that bikers prefer to secure their bikes closer to their destinations.

Suggestion:

  • Dedicated bicycle lanes on the roads around the hospital and graduate schools would be a huge help to bike commuters, particularly in terms of safety. Thanks!

UM Go Green:

  • The city has created bike lanes on Lombard Street, but unfortunately they are shared with the bus lane. The University is working with the city to create more pedestrian streets as was recently done in front of the new School of Pharmacy addition to encourage more pedestrians and bike friendly movement. We are currently looking at Arch Street to see if we can do something there to reduce vehicle traffic and make it safer for pedestrians and bike commuters.

Suggestion:

  • Make parking fees more attractive for carpoolers.

UM Go Green:

  • We encourage carpooling by providing convenient reserved parking near garage entrances. We also have a ridesharing website to help people identify potential carpooling candidates. If even two people carpool, the effective parking fee is half. If three or four people carpool, the savings are even greater.

EDUCATION & AWARENESS

Suggestion:

  • We should be able to "like" UM Go Green on Facebook to increase awareness. That could also be a way to receive the monthly suggestion.

UM Go Green:

  • UM Go Green has a Facebook page. The Green Tip of the Month, plus other timely information, will be available there.
  • Currently, you can sign up for the Green Tip of the Month through email, text, or by following UM Go Green on Twitter. Through Twitter we report on campus, local, and regional sustainability events and information. Thank you for your suggestion!

ENGINEERING & CONSTRUCTION

Suggestion:

  • West Baltimore is cut-off, access is daunting across MLK. What do we propose as interconnectors? Are bridge networks an option? More city jobs, contracts, and pride.

UM Go Green:

  • The University is working with city and state transportation officials to make the Baltimore/MLK intersection safer. Part of the plan is to reopen the Fremont Street access to MLK and make cars coming from West Baltimore (that want to go south) turn right at Fremont and go south to MLK. This will reduce the number of cars making right turns at MLK and make it easier for pedestrians to cross. We also are looking at reducing the number of travel lanes on MLK and making other aesthetic improvements to this area.

Suggestion:

UM Go Green:

  • Facilities Management is working with the School of Medicine on several initiatives to reduce energy consumption and make labs more environmentally friendly. We are exploring low flow fume hoods, putting lights on motion sensors, using chilled water sensible cooling, putting timers on lab bench equipment, and designing to meet LEED standards.
  • Procurement Services has a Buy Green page that links to scientific equipment and supplies that are environmentally friendly. That said, researchers are our most effective tool for being environmentally aware in the labs.