Student group takes initiative to make eco-friendly campus
By Christina Harp
A group of Purdue Agriculture students is adding another color to the university's old gold and black: green. Boiler Green Initiative (BGI) members are sharing their concerns about the impact they and their school are having on the environment.
Photo by Christina Harp
Matt Lafree (right), a junior landscape horticulture and design major from South Bend, Ind., distributes trash bags to Purdue football fans and tailgaters as part of the Boiler Green Initiative recycling project. Last season, the group passed out more than 1,000 bags to collect glass bottles and aluminum cans at tailgate areas on game days.
"I've always been environmentally minded and the idea that I could be part of something to help is encouraging," said Kimberly Robinson. The senior natural resources and environmental science major from Anderson, Ind., likes the idea that she is part of a group that is making one small contribution to solve a large, complex problem. "It's not going to change the world, but it's what I can do to help the community and people around me," she said.
Purdue does its part to minimize its environmental impact like installing porous paving surfaces that help with runoff water quality, but BGI focuses on areas where more can be done. One way the group is working in the Purdue community is by making people more aware of the resources they are using and of their personal impact on the environment.
"We generate so much metal and glass waste on any given weekend, so I want to increase recycling efforts on campus," said Olga Kildisheva, a senior in natural resources and environmental sciences from Kharkov, Ukraine. "I am really interested in sustainability and I have finally found a group that actually does something about it."
Students like Robinson and Kildisheva are combining that concern with their coursework to make positive changes and help Purdue go "green". BGI members have been working on several activities and projects, including an alternative transportation week, green roof project and silent auction to raise money and carry out the organization's mission.
The green roof project, which started the group, was the idea of two Purdue landscape architecture students. Buildings with green roofs have live vegetation on top of them. The plants are energy efficient and help insulate the building. Green roofs also help minimize storm water runoff and make buildings more aesthetically pleasing, according to Jason Davis, secretary of the club and a junior in landscape architecture from Orlando, Fla.
Currently, the group is focusing on the Mann Building. It has a new roof, so it is already known that the building can support the extra weight of a completely saturated green roof, Davis said. The club has other buildings on its list and eventually wants all new buildings on campus to be constructed with green roofs, reducing the negative impact on the environment.
Less is good, said Robinson. And making a difference a little at a time is a philosophy that applies to the whole club. "There are a lot of people who think, 'What does one person do?' but every little bit counts."