The working definition of sustainability is the capacity of a community to meet current needs without degrading the ecological, social, and economic systems on which the community will rely for meeting future needs.
Here’s a quick rundown of some other recent programs and activities at MICA that focus on sustainability and reducing our carbon footprint. We’re always looking for new and creative ways to support this effort.
There are single bins in all campus areas for all recyclables instead of multiple sorting bins. MICA hopes that this system will continue to increase participation campus wide. Single-stream recycling allows all recyclable items to be placed into one container, including glass, paper, plastic, metal, etc. The items are sorted at the recycling facility.
MICA continues to implement the recommendations put forth in the energy audit. The recommendations being implemented include installing higher efficiency and lower wattage lighting, installing low-flow shower heads, installing automatic light sensor switches, placing energy management systems in some buildings, replacing existing exit signs with LED exit signs, and upgrading building systems. These energy audit and the follow-up steps have allowed MICA to generate and put into action a fully informed plan for smart energy use.
By installing energy efficient lighting throughout every MICA building, installing light sensors to automatically turn off lights when spaces are not being used, and installing updated energy efficient heating and cooling systems, MICA has reduced its energy consumption by over 10%, reducing the school's energy costs by about $200,000 in fiscal year 2010 compared to the previous fiscal year.
Safe disposal of dangerous chemicals
MICA has a turpentine and solvent disposal program for painting studios, a disposal program for hazardous waste containers, and conducts campus-wide purges of residual hazardous waste. MICA also safely disposes all batteries.
Recycling old computers and other e-waste
MICA recycles old computers and computer parts. Dates are also scheduled throughout the year for the MICA community to donate their unused electronic equipment for reuse or recycling—preventing these electronics from going to landfills.
Conforming to local, state, and federal regulations
MICA complies with all relevant regulations regarding the use and disposal of chlorofluorocarbons and refrigerant gases.
Use of zero-emission vehicles
MICA’s Operations staff uses mostly electric or hybrid vehicles for day-to-day operations. These vehicles help reduce exhaust emissions and the use of fossil fuels, as well as reduce noise pollution.
Promoting bicycle use
MICA has installed bicycle racks convenient to every building on campus.
Locally grown seasonal fruits and produce are served on our campus through our Farm Fresh Program. A sign is posted in the Meyerhoff Dining Room with the fresh items currently being served.
Fair trade coffee
MICA purchases coffee from suppliers who pay their employees a living wage for picking and preparing coffee for export.
Parkhurst dining services switched to trayless dining in the school cafeteria and reduced the amount of food waste by more than half. This also saved on the need to wash the trays in the dishwasher.
MICA is the first college or university in the City of Baltimore to begin and maintain a composting program. All food waste from the college cafeteria is collected and taken to a composting collection station on campus. Cardboard is also and composted. MICA now serves as the composting transfer station for the Waste Neutral Group (the composting contractor) for several Baltimore institutions, restaurants, and other businesses. MICA is the hub of composting for Baltimore, thus, MICA has directly helped facilitate the practice of composting thoughout the city.
Filtered water coolers
Filtered water coolers have been installed throughout the campus to reduce or elminate the use of bottled water. Additionally, water filtration systems have been installed in some buildings filter potable water in the buildng. The water coolers have the further advantages of providing hot or cold water, and they help reduce the spread of germs by discouraging people from drinking from the same fountain nozzel. In addition, they save the space that was being occupied by some Departments storing 5-gallon water bottles. There are also fewer delivery trucks on campus.
Hand dryers have been installed in many MICA restrooms to reduce the use of paper towels. Hand dryers have several advantages over paper towels. Paper towels must be stocked daily, are thrown into the landfill when used, and consume trees to manufacture. Paper towels also must be delivered on a regular basis. Once installed, energy efficient hand dryers dry hands at a fraction of the cost of paper towels and produce no mess that needs to be cleaned up.
Highly efficient LED lighting has been installed in some of the school's gallery spaces and in the Brown Center atrium, as well as in Falvey Hall. The LED bulbs replaced halogen bulbs that typically consumed from 100 watts to up to 300 watts with LED bulbs that consume no more than 18 watts of electricity. The LED bulbs also burn cooler, thereby reducing the cooling load in the buildings. The lifespan of an LED bulb is expected to be up to 10 years, whereas halogen bulbs have to be changed several times each semester. This helps reduce maintenance costs.
Since 2008, MICA has planted over 200 new trees on and around campus. This includes the total redevelopment of Pearlstone Park near Mt Royal Station and landscaping "Lazarus Plaza" at the I-83 bridge over North Avenue, near the intersection of Mt Royal Ave. The school also worked with AMTRAK to improve, landscape, and re-foliate the AMTRAK pit near the Commons dormitory. MICA also uses organic fertilizers for its landscaping.
Paints and solvents
MICA now uses low VOC or no VOC paints on the interior and exterior of its buildings.
Facilities Management's Buildings Services staff now uses certified green products for their cleaning efforts. The staff also uses toilet tissue and paper towels made from recycled matrerials, and trash bags made from recycled materials.
The Residence Life Office holds annual swap-n-drop events at the conclusion of every school year. This event is staged at each of dormitories and allows dormitory residents to easily and conveniently donate any of their unwanted items to local charities such as Goodwill.
Renewable energy credits
Beginning in 2012, MICA will receive renewable energy credits (RECs) for 10% of the electricity it consumes.