Green campus title may be a facade

Green campus title may be a facade is an opinion column written for The Orion.

Chico State boasts of being a green campus, but it seems to be a bit more of a dark, murky color.

The university was recently named one of Yahoo News’ top-five green colleges in America for its LEED-certified buildings and solar panels, but while there are solar panels on a couple of buildings, they are oddly absent from the ideally slanted roof of the Wildcat Recreation Center. The roof slants away from the direction in which the sun shines.

The building is LEED-certified by the U.S. Green Building Council, which means it was built with minimal environmental impact and has low waste features. This is impressive, and so is the fact that the pool is partly heated by solar power and the electric traction elevator uses less energy than a hydraulic one.

The WREC has significant environmental perks, but these energy-saving tactics mean nothing if they are cancelled out by the dozens of flat-screen TVs that constantly suck up energy and money on most of the equipment and walls. The cable doesn’t even work half the time, and resources are used to display neon-colored lines and dots.

Through the signing of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment in 2006, President Paul Zingg promised that Chico State will reach climate neutrality by 2030, long after he has retired and all current students have graduated. It is unclear who will be around to ensure implementation, and it is especially worrisome considering the plans to build multiple new buildings in the coming years, thus guaranteeing more energy use.

It doesn’t help that every building is lit like a Christmas tree at night. Both a decrease in energy consumption and an increase in campus-generated renewable energy are necessary to make a difference.

The elephant in the room, or on campus rather, is the parking structure being built on West Second Street and Normal Avenue. This is against the wishes of the 3,650 students that voted against it in the 2011 Normal Avenue Parking Structure Advisory Measure on the Associated Students ballot. Of the 4,794 votes, 76.14 percent said no to the garage and its 359 parking spaces. Students are looking for a more environmentally friendly campus, but their efforts are being held back.

This is by no means an attempt to discredit the Sustainability Collaborative, which houses at least a dozen green programs and projects, from A.S. Sustainability to the Student Market. The collaborative serves as a hub for all things sustainable on campus. There is only so much this organization can do, however, especially now that it is operating without a sustainability coordinator.

While Chico State rushes to declare that it is part of Yahoo’s top-five, I can’t help but dread the car-promoting parking structure and wonder about the ever-increasing energy use.


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