By: Robert Airo, Assistant Director of Support Systems at UAMS
What is sustainability and what does it mean to us here at UAMS? Many people believe sustainability is an interchangeable term with recycling. This is not necessarily the case. Recycling is part of sustainability, and it is typically the most visible. Sustainability is a much broader concept, considering all aspects of how we operate.
The definition and three focal points of sustainability are:
“Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations.”
People – Planet – Profit – Goals
- People: to benefit and improve the well-being of patients, family, students, staff and the local community – the human aspect of UAMS.
- Planet: to benefit and reduce the environmental impact of UAMS.
- Profit: to be financially responsible throughout the process.
How does UAMS apply these focal points?
UAMS has focused heavily on the largest impact of sustainability, which is energy efficiency and conservation. Since 2007, UAMS has embarked on energy efficiency starting with a new energy plant, which creates heating and cooling for the campus’s west side, and distributes electricity to the west side of the campus, as well as the Arkansas State Hospital and Arkansas Department of Health. This plant has many energy efficiency additions, which saves UAMS $3.5 million annually in utilities. Another large energy project in 2012 has provided an additional $4.2 million in annual utility savings. Several smaller initiatives have saved an additional $400,000. This is a current total of $8.1 million per year in energy savings. The annual energy greenhouse gas savings is 34,415 metric tons of CO2, which is the equivalent of removing 7,435 cars off the road, saving 3,873,530 gallons of gasoline, or 569,062 tree seedlings grown for 10 years – this repeated every year!
We also have a large energy project currently underway, which will add a new generator plant to the campus, LED lighting, and other significant energy incentives. This project will add an additional $5 million to our energy and utility savings per year. The annual greenhouse gas savings is 40,920 metric tons of CO2, which is the equivalent of an additional 8,841 cars off the road, 4,604,422 gallons of gasoline, or another 676,613 tree seedlings grown for 10 years, and it will be every year!
UAMS has several departments with significant sustainability initiatives:
- UAMS has a growing recycling program, recycling white and mixed paper, cardboard, plastics, aluminum, rechargeable batteries, oil, old child safety car seats, glass, food waste, and any other item we can locate a recycling stream.
- The EVS Move Team recycles furniture and equipment through State Surplus (M&R), and recycles scrap metal.
- Distribution Services recycles printer ink cartridges.
- Nutrition Services has Stocked and Reddy, a program providing nutritious food to an estimated 600 students and staff on campus. Some of the items are food that would otherwise go to waste from the UAMS Cafeteria or other donating agencies.
- UAMS has water bottle filling stations around campus so people can conveniently fill their own water bottles instead of using on single-use water bottles.
- Parking Operations has various initiatives including carpooling, van pooling and bicycle racks.
- OHS has a chemical share program on campus to allow staff who need chemicals access prior to disposing of the chemicals.
With everything UAMS is doing, what can you do to contribute to UAMS sustainability?
- Recycle recyclable items
- Reduce consumption
- Avoid waste
- Turn off lights when you leave your office or area
- Be energy conscious, both at work and home
- Lead a healthy lifestyle
If we all work together, we can make UAMS more sustainable, and “Meet the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations.” This will further contribute to the Mission of UAMS: To improve the health, health care, and well-being of Arkansans and others in the region, nation and world.