Pierce College administrators and the college’s Sustainability Committee continue to investigate ways to improve the sustainability of the college.
Sustainability ranks among the top five values of the college, and seems to be an increasingly important factor in construction and maintenance decisions for school officials, business owners and homeowners as the concern over a changing global environment continues to grow.
Pierce officials think about lighting alternatives, construction materials, disposal of used materials, reduction of waste and overall cost as they plan for the future.
“Becoming more sustainable is an ongoing process,” sustainability committee leader Pete Kaslik said.
The dedication to sustainability seems to be virtually equal between the two campuses.
“Both have similar philosophies,” Director of Facilities Jim Taylor said, “so I think they are comparable.”
Kaslik agreed; he hasn’t seen any differences in commitment between the two campuses despite their difference in appearance.
At a cost of $8,000 per year, Pierce College students and staff are dedicated recyclers, and the college participates in the commingle recycling of paper, cans, plastic and cardboard, said Debby Aleckson, budget manager and administrative assistant.
Electricity, at a cost of $688,000 per year, is one of the colleges greatest concerns in conservation and renovation. Between the two campuses, 10 million kilowatt hours, or kWh, of electricity is used yearly.
Pierce College currently uses a combination of incandescent and LED lights, but officials are looking to transition to mostly LED, especially for exterior lights.
“We are currently engaged in refitting exterior lighting to LED, although this will take some time to fund and complete,” Taylor said.
Some new LED lights have been installed in parking lots and on buildings at the Fort Steilacoom campus, and plans are in place for new lighting at the Puyallup campus as well, though there isn’t a timeline for completion.
The lights and heat at the college are also regulated to prevent unnecessary use.
“There are lights that stay on constantly for security and safety purposes,” Tom Davis, building and grounds supervisor, said, “but the majority have scheduled off times and occupancy sensors. The HVAC systems have scheduled setbacks and occupancy sensors. “
Pierce College also annually invests: $275,000 in gas bills, $97,000 in water and sewer costs and $75,000 in disposal of garbage. Though these numbers seem incredibly high, Aleckson assures that these costs are reasonable.
“Looking at effort and investment expanded to reduce consumption, Pierce has demonstrated a commitment to sustainability,” Aleckson said.
Aleckson said the college has continued to make efforts to reduce excess waste and usage by employing an Energy Services Company to help the college identify and implement a plan to reduce our water and energy usage, Aleckson said.
With the assistance of the ESCO, Pierce College has replaced lighting, installed water conservation devices, recalibrated and upgraded heating and cooling controls to maximize efficiency, and placed occupancy sensors around campus to prevent unnecessary lighting, heating or cooling.
The Pierce College Sustainability Committee is designed to assist and work with college administration and outside groups to optimize the college’s sustainability both now and in the future.
“The Pierce College Sustainability Committee Mission is to increase the resilience of Pierce College and the greater community through identification of current impacts, collaboration with partners to mitigate the impacts and the promotion of educational opportunities about sustainability,” the committee mission statement said.
Current sustainability projects include improving bicycle access, informing the community about sustainability and planning modifications to drinking fountains to be better suited to filling reusable water bottles.
The potential of better biking conditions, Kaslik said, is a complex issue that will take a long time to resolve.
“(Biking) saves the students money, reduces parking lot congestion, improves the health of students and reduces pollution,” Kaslik said. “Besides on-campus parking for bikes, safe biking routes to campus are another concern.”
Students attending in classes in Fort Steilacoom’s Rainier building have been sharing ideas about college savings because of the building design, and the sustainability committee hopes to create and post signs in the building to highlight savings.
The sustainability committee is also in the process of creating a website about Pierce College sustainability, Kaslik said.
Pierce College Puyallup President Marty Cavalluzzi and Puyallup Office of Student Life leaders also hope to bring bike storage to the Puyallup campus to promote alternative, eco-friendly transportation.
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