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Campus Goes Green for Earth Day

To reach Tracy Dixon’s office in Administrative Services Building III you have to make a left on Happy Street. That’s the name given to the long hallway that leads to the University Sustainability Office (a student intern created paper street signs for many of the hallways on the floor and the idea stuck).

It’s a fitting metaphor for the university’s progress in meeting sustainability goals over the years: we haven’t been living on Easy Street, but the results are satisfying enough to bring a smile to every Wolfpack face.

Big Savings, Small Footprint

Dixon, NC State’s sustainability director, takes a few moments away from planning this year’s Earth Day activities to review the stats:

> The university has cut water consumption on campus by 47 percent since 2001.

> The amount of trash headed to landfills has been cut in half.

> More than two-thirds of all students use alternative means to get to class.

> 400 tons of food is composted every academic year by the dining halls.

> The LED fixtures in Bragaw Hall alone save more than 50 tons of carbon dioxide annually.

> Total energy consumption on campus is down 5 percent since 2002, despite the growth of energy-intensive research activities and the addition of new buildings.

    Students check out the smallest of several alternative fuel vehicles on display on the Brickyard as a part of last year's Earth Day events.

    “A lot of what we’ve done is to change the culture on campus,” Dixon explains. “We’re certainly headed in the right direction.”

    It’s been a grassroots effort, of course, with students competing against each other (and against rival UNC-Chapel Hill) to reduce water usage, recycling used computers and furniture at the end of the semester and riding the Wolfline in record numbers. But a lot of the change has also come from the top. A few years ago the university committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2050. And it’s adopted a plan with nearly 70 sustainability goals to be achieved over the next five years.

    The most ambitious is the commitment to attain a LEED silver rating (or better) on all new buildings and major renovation projects.

    Second Nature

    “A lot of this is second nature now, and also vital for business,” Dixon says. “It’s good for the environment, but also good for the university.”

    It also has the overwhelming support of students. In a recent survey, nearly 80 percent said it was important for NC State to be a leader in sustainability.

    Take part in some of the many Earth Day events coming to NC State in the coming week:

    WolfWheels Commute Challenge
    Track your alternative commute via ZimRide and win prizes

    April 11 Empower Film Series
    7:00 p.m.
    Campus Cinema
    Semper Fi: Always Faithful (First Triangle Screening)

    April 16 – 20 Earth Week in the Dining Halls
    Local and organic foods served all day long, all week long

    April 18 Alternative Vehicle Showcase
    11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
    Multiple makes and models will be represented, including a Tesla Roadster

    April 19 Earth Day Field Day
    3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
    Centennial Campus at Lake Raleigh
    Kayaking and canoe rental and instruction, yoga, live music, nature hikes and more

    April 19 Electric Vehicle Town Hall
    2:30 – 3:30 p.m.
    Monteith Research Center Auditorium and Plaza on Centennial Campus

    April 20 Earth Day Celebration
    10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
    Over 70 organizations, campus departments and vendors, including the Green Career Coaches Corner, Campus Farmers Market, games, prizes and more

    April 20 Earth Day Concert
    4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m
    Harris Field
    Bands: Holy Ghost Tent Revival, Once and Future Kings, Lizzy Ross

    April 20 Redress Raleigh
    8:00 p.m.
    Contemporary Art Museum (CAM)

    April 21 Earth Day Music Fest on Hillsborough Street
    3:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m.
    11 venues and 25 bands

    April 28 Medication Drop-Off
    10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
    Student Health Center Parking Lot