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MSU Board of Trustees OKs $13.3M step to go 'green'

January 21, 2008

Sociology senior Skye Black’s presentation to the MSU Board of Trustees more than a year ago, which revealed MSU was last in the Big Ten in recycling, struck a nerve with Trustee Joel Ferguson.

“It’s really a case of the students coming before us and pointing out something we weren’t aware of,” Ferguson said. “They wanted to make a better world, and I think MSU should be in the forefront.”

Black made another presentation to the board Friday, in which she focused on the dangers of global warming.

“The fight against global warming is the revolution of my generation,” Black told the board.

The board voted unanimously Friday to approve construction planning for a $13.3 million recycling center expected to be completed by July 2009.

The recycling center, which also will house MSU Surplus Store, will be located on Farm Lane and is scheduled to begin construction in June.

The board also approved authorization to plan an $11 million expansion to the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory and $3.6 million in renovations for the School of Planning, Design and Construction.

Fred Poston, vice president for finance and operations, said the recycling facility is self-supporting, with a payback period of no more than 12 years. However, that period likely will be shorter because of a growing market for recycling.

“It opens up so many other possibilities for us in the future that, as of yet, we can’t exactly perceive because we haven’t explored the markets,” Poston said.

The facility will generate revenue by recycling five key materials: white paper, mixed paper, newspapers, cardboard and plastic.

Although MSU already recycles those products, the habits of students and faculty will have to change for the facility to be self-supporting, said Kathy Lindahl, assistant vice president for finance and operations.

Lindahl said 14 percent, about 1,700 tons, of MSU’s landfill waste is being diverted to recycling. The percentage will have to double by 2010, a task members of the environmental stewardship systems team said can be accomplished.

A group of students and faculty assembled by Poston, presented 26 recommendations to the board regarding the ways MSU can improve recycling and help reduce waste.

Recommendations included reducing energy in all 579 campus buildings by nine percent, developing a “green” certification program for university departments and improving campus waste management.

Tremaine Phillips, a student researcher for the environmental stewardship team, said this was a good first step – but that MSU can do more.

“These recommendations are only the first phase of possibly moving this university forward in a new direction as a national leader in environmental stewardship and research,” Phillips said to the board.

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