MARQUETTE - With an annual reduction of 22,689 metric tons of carbon, Northern Michigan University is ranked among the top five institutions that lowered their carbon footprint through Johnson Controls, a global company that formulates plans to improve energy efficiency.
"We've been doing green things for a long time," said Brandon Sager, assistant director of facilities in NMU's Engineering and Planning Department. "We've been recycling for 25 years. We've always kind of done things to be sustainable."
NMU has five Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified buildings and Sager said as the university looks to expand with new buildings or to update old ones, it is always looking for additional LEED certification.
"Any of our major capital outlay projects will strive to be LEED certified," Sager said.
NMU is waiting to receive the go-ahead from the state on a massive construction project that would raze Gries and John X. Jamrich halls in favor of an academic/office building attached to the Learning Resources Center.
During a university forum April 19, NMU President Les Wong said he is expecting to hear back from the state on that project soon.
The university has also begun construction on its new environmentally-friendly cogeneration heat and power plant.
Sager said Northern has implemented several different programs to help reduce carbon emissions and lower utility costs, including moving to a 10-hour, 4-day work week during the summer semester, keeping major buildings on campus closed down for three days at a time when the student population is significantly lower than usual and installing energy efficient products such as low flow toilets, waterless urinals and energy efficient windows.
NMU's dining halls have also gone trayless to conserve food waste and use eco-friendly utensils.
According to Sager, the university has recycled more than 6,500 tons of waste since the recycling program began in 1992. NMU has also recycled more than 60,000 pounds of electronic equipment on campus since 2002 and 10,000 pounds of batteries since 2008. Oil and antifreeze from the university's 59-vehicle fleet is also recycled.
Vending machines on campus use motion sensors to help conserve energy during unoccupied hours as do some light fixtures and rain sensors also help monitor irrigation well controllers to save energy.
According to a press release from Johnson Controls, which has worked with NMU to improve efficiency on campus, the university saves the equivalent of 4,838 pine trees annually.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.