Hope pushes for a greener world


HOPE’S CAMPUS — Our Physical Plant works hard to make our campus look beautiful. (Photo by Hope College)

Hope College isn’t exactly known for its environmental friendly reputation. Not that Hope doesn’t promote going green, but I’ve never felt a strong emphasis on the importance of eco-friendly acts, such as recycling. However, after doing some research, I’ve come to the realization that Hope is actually doing a phenomenal job in this department. Most of this information is available on our website, green.hope.edu, but I know not many people check up on this. I thought it was important to let the Hope community recognize some of the incredible actions Hope has done to help keep our world a little greener.

One thing I believe students may have noticed but didn’t put much afterthought into is the fact that the Martha Miller Center, DeVos Fieldhouse, Lubbers Hall and Graves Hall have “lighting controls with motion sensors and building automation scheduling to turn off lights when unoccupied,” according to the Sustainable Hope website at green.hope.edu.
One of the biggest concerns for our world is the use of electricity. Anyone with a basic understanding of climate change understands that the use of electricity releases carbon dioxide, a common greenhouse gas. So, Hope installing these motion-censored lights is one of the best ways to help reduce these harmful carbon emissions.

I’m sure many students have seen the recycle bins around campus, in academic buildings as well as in dorm rooms. I, along with many other students, recycle, but I haven’t paid much attention to those affects. I’ve found some statistics that emphasize the significance this recycling has done for Hope and the environmental community. All these facts can be viewed at green.hope.edu: monthly, Hope is saving 27,672 kW hours of electricity, 610 gallons of oil, 141 gallons of gasoline, 88 mature trees, 41,125 gallons of water and 23 cubic yards of landfill airspace. How incredible is that?

Something I’ve had real experience with and can give my own personal insight on is the grounds department in the Physical Plant. I’ve worked on the grounds crew for a summer and it has allowed me to understand fully the significance of what they do for the environment, along with Hope’s campus in general. First of all, all the flowerbeds’ plants were purchased from local groups and organizations. This has allowed them to receive the specific types of plants they want that are best for Hope’s soils and environmental conditions. On a side note, this also gives business to these smaller, local growers, which is an extra bonus. On top of that, the fertilizers used for the flowerbeds are organic and completely healthy for the earth. The grounds crew does their absolute best to stay away from any harmful chemicals that may negatively affect the environment.

I can also attest to the equipment used for mowing, leaf blowing or certain tools used for the various outdoors activities the crew attends to. For example, certain chargeable batteries are used for the leaf blowers and mowers that use a photovoltaic panel. These panels convert light into electricity, very similar to how solar panels work.

As for the vehicular side of the grounds, many trucks and large vehicles are used for activities such as plowing snow and transporting loads of plants. The Physical Plant is attempting to convert all vehicles to be powered by diesel instead of regular gasoline. On top of all that, the plows used on trucks are made up of specific blades and scoops that are extremely efficient in snow removal. Therefore, this reduces the overall quantity of salt used on roads and sidewalks: another benefit to our environment.

It can be quite surprising to learn all of the incredible sustainable techniques and actions Hope is doing to better the environment. That being said, it is important to remember we can all do our own part.
Continue to recycle, limit electricity and water use and simply be aware of the ecological footprint you’re leaving on this earth. It isn’t here to be used, but preserved.

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