Below are highlights from some recent sustainability programs launched by various campus departments.
Sorting Chemotherapy Waste
The Medical School’s Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) Department regularly conducts waste sorting procedures which reduced hazardous bio-waste collection from chemotherapy activities on campus The approach cuts disposal costs, increases awareness of waste-handling practices and results in a more accurate waste stream leaving the campus— all important sustainability objectives. Since the program began in 2009, the amount of hazarous waste has been reduced by 55% annually.
EH&S also recycles about 1,000 pounds of Xylene annually.
Green Data Center
In 2010 the Medical School opened a data center at the South Street campus in Shrewsbury that will reduce energy use by 40 percent compared to the old data center. The state-of-the-art, 7,400 square-foot facility, will house all Medical School servers, plus those used by the University President’s office. The new center was designed with sustainability in mind, employing many novel features that significantly reduce energy consumption. For example, energy savings will come from a range of carbon emission-reducing features, including a high-efficiency cooling system, a clean flywheel backup electricity storage system, and no need for lights inside the center.
To perform optimally, servers and related equipment require adequate air flow. In the new center, the need for powered air circulation was reduced by eliminating common airflow restrictions like pipes, conduits, or duct work running beneath its raised floor. Energy savings will also come from using “air-side economizing” technology, which brings in outdoor air for cooling the indoor space. Thus, chilled water for the air conditioning system will be required only during the warmest 25 percent of the year.
The school needs its servers to work all the time, but the new data center won’t use batteries for back-up power. To bridge the gap between power outages and when the facility’s generator kicks in, the new center will store energy in a high-density rotating flywheel. Spinning flywheels store energy kinetically rather than chemically, out-last batteries by 15 to 20 years, and do not produce hazardous waste, making them more cost efficient and environmentally friendly than battery-based systems.
In 2011 the Medical School began rolling out an initiative to power down computers after 8:00 PM. Read more about this initiative here.
The sustainability goal of the UMMS Purchasing Department is to pursue every available opportunity to encourage and facilitate buying green products and practicing economy on campus. By making responsible purchasing choices, individuals and departments at UMMS can decrease significantly the impact this campus has on the global environment. To promote buying green products and services, several non-clinical purchasing initiatives have been implemented. If you are interested in reducing your printing and computing energy use, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Here are some examples:
SWAP before you buy
At the Medical School a variety of items become “surplus”, and are no longer needed by various departments. Launched in April 2010, the Surplus with a Purpose (SWAP) internal web site offers a venue for the Medical School community to share furniture, office supplies and lab equipment and other various items to keep them out of the landfill while potentially saving money by avoiding duplicative purchases. For those at the Medical School, click here for the link to SWAP.
PETS Project: Printer Enterprise Technology Solutions
Coordinated through the Purchasing Department, six Medical School departments are participating in a pilot program this year to reduce energy consumption and green house gas emissions attributed to the use of desktop printers.
Dubbed PETS, for Printer Enterprise Technology Solutions, the program will try to reduce the current ratio between employees and printers and optimize printer settings. It is estimated that by adopting the optimal printer recommendations, some departments could reduce their energy use for printing and copying by 70 percent, green house gas emissions by 83 percent and solid waste by 81 percent.
Composting makes for happy pigs and people
Rather than throw away food waste, scraps from the 7,500 daily meals prepared in the University Campus kitchens are now feeding pigs thanks to a cooperative composting program with Tyde Brook Farm in Holden, Massachusetts.
Part of the ongoing efforts to reduce the waste stream leaving the University Campus bound for a landfill, the food re-use composting program is shipping an average of 100 gallons of food waste a week to the farm. The food waste involved is vegetable trimmings from the kitchen, leftovers from the salad bars, unsold prepared foods, such as half-filled pans of entrees and pre-packaged items that remain unsold past their expiration date. The program does not include food left on people’s trays—that is still considered trash.
Reusing Cooking Oil
In 2010 the hospital kitchen at the University Campus switched to a new cooking oil filtering process that extends the life of the oil, thereby reducing the overall usage by 35 percent, saving some 6,000 gallons of oil a year.
When the oil can no longer be used for cooking, it is collected by Baker Commodities, a California-based firm that provides rendering and grease removal services across the country. The oil is transported to the company’s northeast facility in Billerica, Massachusetts, where it is processed for reuse. Most of the cooking oil is recycled into yellow grease, a product used as a high energy ingredient in animal feed. Yellow grease is also used to produce biodiesel, a non-toxic biodegradable diesel fuel substitute. According to industry sources, when used in place of petroleum, or in blends with petroleum, biodiesel can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 78 percent.
Second Helpings Reuse Program
Piles of office furniture and equipment no longer used by the Medical School have been accumulating in the school’s warehouse for years. In 2010, the Second Helpings reuse program was launched to repurpose those surplus items and donate them to five Worcester non-profit organizations. The program was developed through the School’s Office of Community Affairs and the Resource Max initiative.
To save resources and improve efficiency, in 2010 the Medical School implemented a new electronic pay stub program, thereby eliminating paper pay stubs for some 6,600 employees. The school now consumes 343 fewer pounds of paper each year. Over the next three years, the resources saved from this initiative are equivalent to:
- 4,000 pounds of wood saved from paper production
- 11,438 gallons of wastewater saved from paper production
- 3,000 pounds of carbon dioxide saved from paper production
- 774 gallons of fuel will be saved from transporting the paper, equal to 16 barrels of oil.
(These environmental impact estimates were made using the Environmental Defense Fund Paper Calculator www.papercalculator.org and EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator, www.epa.gov/RDEE/energy-resources/calculator.html.)