RIC “LEEDS” the way with green initiatives

RIC’s newest and largest structure on campus is the first residence hall in the state to be LEED certified.
The environmentally friendly technologies used to build the hall have resulted in significant cost savings.
Rhode Island College has launched several initiatives to keep its campus grounds “green.” The college uses green cleaning agents, has implemented environmentally friendly programs to teach others how to reduce their environmental impact on Rhode Island, and boasts the first LEED certified residence hall in the state.

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an internationally recognized green building rating system that verifies structures are designed and built to be environmentally responsible.

RIC’s 367-bed residential hall, which opened in the fall of 2007, is its newest structure and the largest on campus. More than half of the trash from construction was recycled, totaling over 750 tons. More than a quarter of materials used for the building were transported from within 500 miles, reducing fuel consumption. A high-efficiency HVAC system along with an air/vapor barrier to seal the building from drafts provides a combined cost savings of $115,000 annually.

In accordance with LEED requirements for reduced site disturbance, the residence hall was built with a 40-foot maximum clearing setback to maintain as much natural vegetation as possible.

Exposed colored concrete floors and indoor finishes with low volatile organic compounds were used to improve air quality and maintainability without the use of harsh chemicals.

In addition to building green, RIC is also housekeeping green. For over eight years, RIC has been using environmentally friendly cleaning agents. All the current chemicals used on campus are green certified. Green certified toilet paper, paper towels, soap and trash bags that have been tested to decompose 50 percent faster, are used throughout campus. All cleaning supplies, including microfiber wet/dry mops and 99 percent HEPA filters for shampoo machines and vacuums, are green certified.

Recycling is promoted on campus with recycling containers in all buildings. RIC reuses boxes for storage or compacts and recycles cardboard. The college also reuses furniture from other public institutions rather than purchasing new furniture.

In cooperation with the green campus, RIC has begun environmental education programs including a course (GEOG 305) focused on Rhode Island’s climate and in-depth coverage of topics including global warming, coasts and oceans, human impact on the planet, food and development issues, green technology and biodiversity, among others.

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Receptacles have been placed in
buildings throughout the campus to promote recycling.
A Green Business Certification program is now being developed by RIC’s Outreach Programs to participants enrolled in any of RIC’s training programs. This initiative will train industries to be environmentally responsible. The program’s staff will be educated in Electronic Business Communication, helping businesses to reduce paper and printer cartridge consumption; how to adapt “green” business efforts; state and federal guidelines for a “green business” and economic actions for a green planet; and energy and water efficiency, pollution prevention, and the advantages of being a certified “green business.”

“It is our intention to provide our pool of employers with highly qualified employees who can make informed decisions as to how an office can run, reduce waste and electricity, while cutting costs and improving productivity,” said Jenifer Giroux, interim director of the Outreach Programs.

According to a poll conducted in May by the Outreach Programs, 86 percent of the employers Outreach works with indicated that they would be more likely to hire a candidate with the Green Business Certification over one who did not.

The Green Business Certification program, created by Glenn Bachman, author of “The Green Business Guide,” and offered in collaboration with Apeiron Institute for Sustainable Living, will begin this fall.

“Our hope is to be able to expand this program so that it will be offered to the community at large through the Continuing Education Department,” said Giroux.

Giroux mentioned additional “green” continuing education courses are being developed throughout the year.

Paul Forte, assistant director of finance and controller, explained that the new RIC Funds Card, available to students this month, is considerably “greener.” Students will no longer receive paper refund checks; instead all refund money will now be directly deposited on to the RIC Funds Card. RIC partnered with HigherOne, a financial services company that focuses on providing higher education students with a faster and more convenient way to receive refund checks, to initiate the card. The RIC Funds Card is a debit card and can be used anywhere MasterCard is accepted. The program is projected to save the college $10,000 annually.

Fruit Hill Farmers Market
In addition, the campus-wide Print Conservation Campaign is designed to advise the college community to reduce printing documents, recycle print cartridges and recycle computers and electronics.

The college is also working to place a cell phone receptacle to recycle old, unused cell phones that will help those in need through the nonprofit charity www.securethecall.org.

RIC is also “growing” green with the Fruit Hill Farmers Market, running through Oct. 14, that features locally grown and organic fruits and vegetables, flowers, sauces and marinades, baked goods, and specialty items. The market is held in parking lot A on Wednesday afternoons from 4–6 p.m.

Rhode Island College is encouraging the college community to share their suggestions and comments about RIC’s green initiatives by emailing green@ric.edu.