Campus LifeNews

Science Labs are Awarded Once Again for Their Eco-Friendly Efforts in the Classroom

The Science Building at UWT has proved for the third year in a row that learning does not just come from studying, testing, and getting graded. UWT’s Cline Lab and The Center for Urban Waters have been awarded a Gold-Level Green Lab Certificate. Cline Lab has won the goldlevel certificate for the past 2 years. The Center of Urban Waters lab has won it 3 years on a row, including this year’s award.

The Green Office Certification Program was founded at the University of Washington- Seattle campus, and is an award that has to both Tacoma and Bothell campuses. This award’s purpose is to encourage faculty, staff, and participating students to follow sustainable practices within the workplace.

The award, which colleges can apply for by taking a short online survey, is based on various workplace practices: things like paper and energy conservation, the purchasing of supplies, for example, ordering less of something because it can be used multiple times. Instead of using it once then throwing it away, the goal would be getting the most use out of the product. Alternative transportation for experiments is another factor, carpooling, taking the transit, even driving a hybrid benefits a universities score.

The award includes three different levels of certification, labeled as bronze (55-69%), silver (70-84%) and gold (85%+). The percentages are based on a point system based on the level of sustainable practices implemented within the academic workplace. The score is then tallied and turned into a “grade.” The level of certification is then determined.

Cline and The Urban Waters labs (Urban Lab is an off campus, local Tacoma lab that is affiliated with UWT) have been over the 85th percentile of certification levels the past two and three years. Shutting lights off, turning off electronic devices at night such as scanners and copier machines, utilizing all resources such as re-using as frequently (or as safely) as possible are procedures that are graded by the UW. “Things are just being ran more fluently around here, it’s important because it encourages good habits and it saves money,” said UWT professor and Center for Urban Waters director Joel Baker.

There is strong passion within the science building to be sustainable and it has been that way since the beginning. “The Science program started with environmental studies, it was our first major, it’s in our DNA, it’s a strong part of UWT and always has been,” Associate Dean of Curriculum and Academic Initiatives, Bonnie Becker said.

This is true; ever since UWT was founded in 1990 there has been a strong push, not only within campus but through the community of Tacoma Cline Lab has won the gold-level certificate for the past 2 years, The Center of Urban Waters lab has won it 3 years in a row, including this year’s award.

“This award has had a huge impact on the university. It makes you think about little things that you normally wouldn’t,” said Baker.

Being sustainable is as simple as ordering less supplies (in bulk), and re-using materials instead of throwing them away.

The Science Building is different from most buildings on campus; it was built from the ground up in 2001. “We [the university] wanted it [science building] to be LEED certified. It’s not, but it is more energy efficient.” Interim Dean and Associate Professor Cheryl Greengrove said.

A LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is a certification program that recognizes best-in class building strategies and practices. Although the building itself was not deemed as a LEED, the faculty and staff have upheld the suggestions the UW sustainability office, the “Best Management Practice” is repeatedly rehearsed and taught to students in the Science Building.

“The main purpose for them [Best Management Practices] is to encourage and recognize people for being environmentally aware,” Baker said.

The wealth is being spread to UWT students as well; the practices are being taught to students in hopes that they stick. “It is good for us to train our students in this environment, it is better for us, better for them,” as Baker said.

“When a student spends four, five, or six years in an environment where they are trained to be sustainable, regardless of your major, it is a real big value to employers. Programs at UWT are great training for eco-friendly workers,” said Baker.

Having won the gold-level green lab award in both labs for two years (three for Urban Waters) the science building has received a lot of recognition throughout the Tacoma area.

As the campus grows and more high school and transfer students choose UWT in the future, the university plans to keep building on the roots founded in 1990, being sustainable and being environmentally aware.