Stepping Toward a Greener Campus

by Kayla Johnston '16

Between an unseasonably warm California winter and Earth Day quickly approaching, taking care of the environment has become a hot topic, especially among students on Azusa Pacific University’s campus.

APU’s Sustainability Club is one of the ways students can get involved on campus. Jamie Warren ’16, the club’s leader, explains that his goal is to affect a small section of this world for the better.

“I would love to see sustainability and environmental stewardship become something APU as a university can fight for . . . that it could become a goal of the university to further reduce waste and increase sustainable practices, because it is good and right to do so,” Warren said.

The Sustainability Club, consisting of more than 10 active members, meets biweekly for a briefing on what is currently happening within the club, and a discussion concerning where the members would like to see the club implement change on campus.

Warren works closely with Toney Snyder, APU’s assistant director of environmental stewardship, to improve recycling and reduce waste on campus. According to Warren, the money Snyder uses to employ student workers comes solely out of the revenue generated by recycling through the city of Azusa’s trash pick-up provider, Athens Services. “It is hard for him to expand in his role without additional funding, so we work closely with him to help his program grow,” Warren said.

According to Snyder, the Facilities Management team strives to create additional opportunities for APU to grow in this area. In 2013, they installed more than 350 occupancy-based thermostats in Trinity and Engstrom residence halls. These motion-activated thermostats automatically turn off when no one is in the room, ultimately saving APU thousands of dollars in electrical bills.

And with the help of the Upper San Gabriel Municipal Water District, APU is currently upgrading its irrigation controllers to better conserve water.

The university also purchased 16 Ice Bear units to work with on-campus air conditioners. These units produce ice at night when rates are cheaper, and turn the air conditioning unit off during the heat of the day. The units cool buildings from a fan blowing over the block of ice, a process called load shifting.

In addition to the technological advances taking place, students, staff, and faculty can take steps to expand this process. Snyder offers advice for those looking for practical ways to be better stewards of their resources. “Everyone can do a better job of collecting cardboard, paper, bottles, and cans to compost,” he said. “Take shorter showers, use water sparingly, turn lights off when you leave rooms, power down equipment at night and on weekends, use a power strip you can turn off, support recycling programs, re-use as many items as you can, open blinds on cool days to bring in heat and close them on hot days, and ride your bike or walk instead of driving.”

It begins with the knowledge that we, as humans, are God’s creation, and it is humanity’s responsibility to take care of the world that has been created for us. According to Warren, it is the duty of Christians to protect God’s creation.

Little efforts do make a difference. “If everyone takes little steps to be better stewards of our resources, together it would be a big step forward,” Snyder said.