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Green Campus

Friday, June 8th, 2012
Myungi University Campus in Korea

Myungi University Campus in Korea

As the looming threats of global warming have been increasingly acknowledged, there have been lots of efforts to reduce green house gas and to curb unnecessary energy consumption. Government buildings and office buildings which consume much more energy than regular households have put particular effort towards saving energy, partly because of their cost reduction objective. The only organizations which consume as much energy as private companies but which haven’t had involvement in energy saving plans have been schools.

Schools, and especially universities, consume energy at rates that are equivalent to major office buildings. The early stages of ‘green campus’ were more focused on planting trees and other greenery. Seeing green in a campus was good but not good enough to meet the definition of a green campus. By early 2000, universities, especially in Europe, had started low carbon lifestyle campaigns on campus, which then expanded to the U.S. and other world campuses. Korean universities joined this trend in 2008 with the organization of ‘Korean Association for Green Campus Initiative (KACGI)’. Nationwide 135 universities joined this Korean green campus association.

Universities save energy and spend their reduced cost for student benefits such as scholarships or the construction of new facilities such as gyms or classroom buildings. Schools that plan to build a new building now adapt energy saving facilities which they formerly did not equip their old buildings with.

Gangnam University, located in Yongin City, a satellite city of Seoul, plans to save 16 percent of its annual energy consumption (10 million kcal) and to reduce 1195 ton of carbon dioxide emission by building a green campus. The school has installed all its sinks, washbasins and toilets as water saving ones. Classroom lights are switched on automatically when people are around and then turned off when no one is there. When a student takes a shower in their dormitory room, the water is treated and then sent to a toilet. The school is also installing air conditioning and heating systems based on geothermal energy. The university expects to save about $US725 million a year via green campus installation. The saved money will go primarily to students who need scholarships to continue to study. Myungji University, also in Korea, has a big water tank in a basement of its engineering department building to collect rain water. The contained water is used in washrooms of the building. Another engineering department building is equipped with solar panels on its roof which generate 44 kw per hour, the equivalent of 80 percent of the total amount of electricity used in the building. These facilities help the school save about $40,000 per year.

Daegu University encouraged its students to join the green campus project there. The school collected abandoned bicycles around campus to recycle and created a green bike zone. Students can borrow bikes in the zone for free to use on campus.

Chungbuk Provincial College also claimed to be a green campus promising ten energy savings practices. Among those are turning off lights when people are not around, and wearing thermal wear to avoid use of high temperature indoor heating. The college also changed all classroom lights to LEDs, which consume less energy than regular light bulbs. Energy saving sensors were also equipped with LEDs and turn on only when people are around. All windows were replaced to double-glazed panes to contribute to higher energy efficiency.

Chungnam University awards carbon scholarships to students who turn off lights after class and turn off the faucet after using water. Daegu Youngjin College uses water from 150 m underground at its campus for its air-conditioning and heating systems. Duksung Women’s University installed solar panel on building rooftops to generate power to use for campus. The school also set up rooftop terraces to keep warmth inside of buildings in winter as well as to make the indoor cool during the summer time. Most of these universities’ going green campus projects are being done by private companies which are then paid by saved energy costs instead of construction costs.

Some universities actively seek students’ involvement in green campus projects. Silla University, for example, held a green campus idea contest. It consisted of three categories, namely Green Life Essay, UCC (User Created Contents), and Photo and Poem. All winners made campus life as the topic of their work. Silla University also now offers classes about sustainable development and eco-friendly campus life. Although the courseload demand for those classes was quite high, yet about one third of total students took the classes.

American schools have taken things several steps further. A Sacramento State mechanical engineering senior students group decided to convert waste oil from school kitchens to biodiesel fuel. Their goal is to produce the same amount of diesel which is used to fuel facilities on campus. The school uses about 276 gallons of diesel fuel (at a cost of about $1000 per month). The biodiesel production facility costs about $5000 and its biodiesel fuel product costs about $1.25 per gallon. If the biodiesel production system produces 125 gallons of biodiesel fuel per month, it will reach the breakeven point in 16 months. Students contacted local companies fpr support in the project. The companies would provide their services and equipment and get paid in biodiesel fuel instead of cash.

The chairman of KACGI, Mr. Shin UiSoon, said that most of Korean colleges and universities had been indifferent to the low carbon and green growth paradigm till recently. As more and more schools join KACGI, the organization aims that Korean schools transform into eco-friendly, energysaving organizations by nurturing green leaders and developing a standard evaluation index for green campuses.

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