Going Green at Pitt-Greensburg

The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg continues to become “greener” with each passing year.

Situated on 219-acres that include woodlands, a hiking trail, and the Slate Run Creek, Pitt-Greensburg’s campus offers a beautiful naturalized setting that is friendly to native flora and fauna. Wildflowers along with native trees and shrubs line the campus roadways. Hawks, song birds, deer, and even Great Blue Heron can often be seen and heard throughout the seasons.

Care is taken to preserve the quality of the water that runs through Slate Run Creek during its pass through campus. Regular testing by high school students in the Summer Science and Math Experience and college students in biology classes show that the stream is healthy and provides a natural environment for a variety of fish, crustaceans, amphibians, and a large selection of bugs.

The Frank A. Cassell Hall is the most visible symbol of the campus’ efforts to become more sustainable and ecologically friendly.

Pitt-Greensburg seeks to provide a healthy environment inside, too. As a smoke-free campus, no smoking is allowed in any of the campus buildings. Smokers are asked to step outside and be at least 25 feet away from any building before lighting up their cigarettes. Proper receptacles for disposal of cigarette butts are also provided.

Recycling and sustainability are regular components of campus life.

The AbiTibi Paper Collection provides a means for the campus community and the greater Greensburg community to recycle paper. Large bins are located in key campus parking lots that are used by both the campus community and the greater community to recycle paper of all kinds. Furthermore, smaller recycling bins are located in key areas of offices and classroom buildings to allow for point-of-use recycling from printer use, junk mail, and other office paper waste. The program provides an income of an average of $80 per term. This income—more than $7,000 since the start of the program—is donated to the Staff Association.

A telephone book recycling program is also available on campus.

Printer cartridges are collected and recycled on a regular basis, with the income from that program designated to a Student Emergency Fund that is administered by the Office of Student Services.

Single-stream recycling is growing on campus. Blue bins are located on campus in key locations and are designated for plastics 1-7, cardboard, glass, aluminum, etc. Plans being developed by the campus’ Recycling Committee will provide better labeling of the blue bins along with replicating Cassell Hall’s one-stop, multi-bin set-up in other key locations on campus, including residence halls. A special kiosk is under consideration for Bobcat Station that would provide a central campus location for single-stream recycling as well as educational information about recycling in general.

At the end of each spring term, students are encouraged to recycle unopened, nonperishable food, gently used clothing, furniture, and gently used household items for donation to multiple charities in the Greensburg area.

Pitt-Greensburg, partnering with Westmoreland Cleanways and ShoeBoxRecycling.com, began collecting gently used shoes in Fall 2012. These shoes are redistributed throughout the world to places like Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guatemala, Chile, Kenya, India, Bolivia, and Haiti. Collection boxes are located in Cassell Hall, Chambers Hall, College Hall, Millstein Library, Robertshaw Hall, Smith Hall, Village Hall, and Westmoreland Hall. As of December 2012, with the help of a local Cub Scout troop, 30 to 50 pairs of shoes (or 280 pounds) had been collected and sent in for redistribution.

Gently used, recent magazines are collected from the campus community on a regular basis and made accessible to students in the Academic Village’s Coffeehouse.

Sigma Tau Delta sponsors a book collection each term to collect used books.

The Campus Beautification Community Circle, working closely with the Plant Maintenance Department, offers support and advice on native shrubs and other plants used in landscaping key areas on campus, with the goal of providing beauty, ease of maintenance, and ecologically sustainable choices.

Campus Departments Going Green

The “greening” of Pitt-Greensburg occurs in other ways, too.

During the past five years, the majority of the monthly and weekly newsletters produced by the Office of University Relations and Institutional Advancement are created and distributed electronically. These include the monthly e-newsletters to alumni and to families, as well as the weekly e-newsletter that is distributed to the complete campus. Plans are underway to begin converting readership of the quarterly alumni newsletter from print and mail distribution to an electronic magazine format and electronic distribution.

The Office of Admissions is in the final stages of converting from a paper application process to an all-electronic application process. As of spring 2013, all part-time and transfer applications will be electronic, followed by all freshmen applications converting to the all electronic process as early as fall 2013.

Chartwells, the campus dining service, has instituted its own practices to reduce overall waste from the Dining Hall. These include:

  • Eliminating the use of trays, which leads to less food being wasted as well as less water and other resources being used for dishwashing.
  • Striving to purchase locally grown organic food whenever possible, as well as sustainable food products, including 100 percent certified seafood, cage-free shell eggs, hormone and antibiotic-free chicken, turkey, pork, grass-fed beef, and rBGH free milk. Fair Trade Certified sustainable coffee is available on campus.
  • Implementing a Project Green Thumb recycling and composting program as well as their Trim Trax program to track, measure, and reduce kitchen waste.

Other Ways that Pitt-Greensburg is Green

Pitt-Greensburg was recognized during fall 2012 as one of the three schools within the University of Pittsburgh system with the highest rates of participation in Pitt’s “Read Green” program. Pitt’s “Read Green” program allows faculty and staff to receive some campus mailings via email instead of by paper, eliminating more than a million pieces of bulk mail being delivered to Pitt faculty and staff each year. 

Projects Under Development

The Student Government Association is considering the request to fund the purchase of additional recycling containers for residence halls and offices.

The Recycling Committee is evaluating the placement and number of trash and recycling containers. A short-term experiment in Smith Hall is scheduled for the spring 2013 term that will determine if students are willing to use a centralized recycling/trash collection unit by removing standard trash cans from classrooms over a period of time.

The Recycling Committee is working with the Academic Village and the other residence halls on campus to develop programming that the Community Advisors can use to develop “Recycling Mania” in those areas. Additionally, Westmoreland Cleanways, a local recycling resource, will continue to be invited to campus to provide programming to students and other members of the campus community.

Plans are also being developed for a campus composting program as well as an organic garden that would provide vegetables to the campus dining service.