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Sunday, December 21, 2014

UNM’s award-winning green initiatives unknown to students

news@dailylobo.com

UNM has once again been named one of the nation’s greenest schools, but this is news to some students at the University.

This is the third year in a row that UNM has been included on “The Princeton Review’s Guide to 322 Green Colleges,” which focuses on institutions that have shown a commitment to sustainability and the environment. The listing reflects the ongoing efforts of the University and its faculty, staff and students in creating a more energy efficient and greener place of learning.

UNM student Robert Abramson said UNM needs to do a better job of communicating the achievement to students.

“They need to reach out more,” he said. “I don’t know a lot of people that check that (UNM’s green initiatives) out, but if they used social networks to promote it then maybe more people could at least have a chance at hearing about this stuff.”

The report, compiled in collaboration with the U.S. Green Building Council, evaluated over 800 schools across the country, and only those with a score of 83 or above out of 100 were listed in the report. The report does not rank the schools, instead only listing them alphabetically. The score was calculated based on a variety of factors including energy sustainability, the school’s commitment to educate students in clean energy, and how environmentally responsible the school’s energy policies are.

UNM President Robert Frank praised the University’s recognition, and said he is proud to see UNM educating students in sustainability and energy conservation.

“Students coming into UNM are interested in learning sustainability and we offer many opportunities to do that through research and courses,” he said. “UNM also models sustainability for students with our emphasis on energy conservation, alternative transportation and our campus community gardens.”

There are a variety of initiatives underway to make UNM greener, such as the solar thermal array that can be found on mechanical engineering building that collects energy that is used to both heat and cool the building. Other examples include the University’s efforts to make all buildings on campus sustainable enough to become Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified.

In addition to energy sustainability, UNM also has a recycling program that is aimed at protecting the environment by collecting recyclable materials such as paper, plastic, aluminum cans and glass bottles. There are currently recycle bins for these materials scattered throughout campus.

However, it doesn’t appear that many students know about these initiatives, and some say they don’t think the University is doing a sufficient job at spreading the word.

Abramson said that he wasn’t aware of any efforts by the University to be a greener school.

“I see recycling bins and trash cans around the school, but they look old and beat up. Like no one’s taken care of them,” he said.

Former UNM student Tyler David said that while he was aware of the recycling bins around campus when he was a student, it was primarily because of what he learned by word of mouth.

“I always recycled at the various bins around campus,” David said. “The initiatives may have been mentioned, but only if you know where to look.”