Case Western Reserve University's sustainability efforts have earned the institution a Northeast Ohio Environmental Award.
The program, sponsored by the Biodiversity Alliance and Dominion, recognizes and honors the outstanding achievements of organizations, businesses and individuals in a wide range of environmental initiatives throughout the region, and pays tribute to those who have demonstrated a commitment to environmental excellence, leadership and accomplishment in the fields of community, business, primary/secondary education and higher education. Award winners received a plaque and a cash award of $2,500.
Linda Robson, the university's Campus Planning & Operations Fellow for Energy Studies and Eugene Matthews, director of facilities services, accepted the award on behalf of the university during a ceremony at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History last week.
John Wheeler, the university's senior vice president of administration and Bill Eger, the City of Cleveland’s energy manager, jointly submitted the university's nomination, and cited several examples of innovative sustainability initiatives related to the university’s water conservation practices. For instance, some people in the campus community might not realize that there are three 'green' roofs around campus, which Robson said "help insulate buildings and absorb water." An example would be the new Mandel Center for Nonprofit Organizations, which has a roof garden. "Vegetative roofs absorb water, promote better air quality, and are efficient insulators." She added that the vegetation does not add a lot of extra weight or create leakage problems.
In addition, the university recently laid porous concrete in the quad area, allowing precipitation to be absorbed into the ground. "In developed, urban areas, 90 percent of rainfall does not get absorbed. If we can absorb more of what's occurring naturally, that's better for us and our grounds," Robson explained.
Other water conservation initiatives at Case Western Reserve include the collection of rainwater at the Village of 115, as well as its low-flow showers and toilets with water saving devices. In addition, the university is collecting some of the water that comes from building cooling systems on campus. "We're capturing condensate water and using it for other purposes," Robson said.
She added that the efforts to conserve water are a vital part of the university's sustainability initiatives. "We can make fuel out of any number of things, but there's no alternative for water. We want to be as aware of water as we are for other energy projects," she said.
The $2,500 prize money will be invested into the sustainability program's revolving fund for new and continuing initiatives.
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