WCU maintaining a green campus

Students resting at the EGG. Photo by Randall Holcombe.

Western Carolina University has not only been rated as one of  the top environmentally responsible schools, but are also continuously working to make changes in reducing energy consumption on and off campus.

The Princeton Review has rated WCU as one of the top environmentally responsible colleges for the sixth consecutive year in North America.

Click here to read WCU continues to grow as one of the leading NC universities in sustainability by Rachel Plouse and Matt Ober.

Two Western graduates designed a project that was voted for and passed to help sustain energy and is called the Electron Garden on the Green (EGG) according to Joseph Guseman, Intern at Sustainable WCU and Chair of the Sustainability Environment Initiative Committee. The EGG was the first physical structure funded through a student sustainability fee of five dollars which is carried out by WCU’s Sustainability Energy Initiative. The EGG is a combination solar power generating facility and hammock hanging lounge.

“The EGG is more of a place where students could use more than using up the energy… students can enjoy studying, hammocking and hanging out,” said Guseman.

WCU is also taking initiative among other things on campus to reduce energy such as challenging students to unplug, which is a competition with other colleges in North Carolina called “Battle of the Plug.” In 2013 we lost to ASU by 0.2 percent, but rose to the challenge when the UNC system required all UNC schools to slash energy usage by 30 percent before 2015. WCU reduced it energy use by 34 percent by 2015 said Lauren Bishop, Chief Sustainability Officer and Director of Sustainable Energy Management.

“We are no longer the best in the state at energy usage per square foot. UNC Pembroke is. However we have reduced energy by 40 percent and that is a significant drop by encouraging our students to unplug in an exciting way,” said Bishop.

Are students taking consideration with the changes being made on campus? Are the students coming into Western with a clear head of knowing that we have been ranked one of the top schools for being environmentally responsible?

“The students on campus come into Western with a good mindset because of where our school location is,” said Guseman.

Layout for Vehicle Charging Station. Photo provided by Lauren Bishop.

Among the many changes students are seeing, there is one in particular that many are not aware of and will be shockingly excited to see it on a small campus like WCU. The next round of SEI funded projects are a solar electric vehicle charging station.

“The Level 2 Solar EV Charging Station will be located in the new metered lot next to Reid.  Charging will be free to students, faculty and staff.  The construction documents are under review at the State Construction Office and our plan is to install the unit in early spring, late winter 2017.  The cost will be just under or around $30K,” Bishop said.