GREEN is Gold at Southeastern

Green is Gold at Southeastern

Green is much more than one of Southeastern’s school colors. It’s an appreciation for the environment intertwined throughout programs and processes across campus. And, it’s being embraced by more and more members of the Southeastern family every day.

Whether individual efforts or large-scale projects, there are a myriad of opportunities available for students, faculty, staff and the community at-large to contribute.

Byron Patterson, director of Southeastern’s physical plant services, is helping oversee the final phase of a student housing project that has been identified as the second largest project involving a hybrid geothermal energy system in the nation. Once complete, a total of 220 geothermal wells are anticipated to reduce energy costs by more than 50 percent. They will also serve as a learning laboratory for real world experiences for Southeastern students in a variety of disciplines.



This ambitious construction project is the latest in a long line of efficiencies executed on campus with the lofty goal of becoming 30 percent “off the grid” by 2025.

You’ll find various efficiency instruments and mechanisms in place across the buildings and campus landscape including:

  • Solar thermal energy is harnessed at the Kinesiology and Health Studies and Biology buildings, Cardinal Newman Hall and the Sustainability and Horticulture centers.
  • Photovoltaic panels are located at Physical Plant, outside the Horticulture Center and on the roofs of a North Campus facility and the Sustainability Center.
  • Geothermal energy is captured through a pond loop at the Sustainability Center, as well as through the new hybrid residence halls.
  • Wind turbines are utilized at the Sustainability Center

Solar Panels
With student organizations such as Reconnect and the Student Government Association leading the way, students are helping promote use of refillable water bottles, new additions of recycling bins across campus and adoption of community garden plots on the grounds at the Sustainability Center.

Water Bottle StationStudents were also among the first to call for retrofitting old water fountains as reusable water bottle stations. Garrett Hall, D Vickers Hall, Dyson Hall, Biology Building, Sims Memorial Library, Pennington Student Activity Center, North Campus Main Building, the Student Union and University Center are now home to new stations with plans to convert all 117 remaining water fountains over time.

What started out as a committee tasked with addressing litter concerns has evolved into a committee that is now a driving force behind making Southeastern even more green.

“This is a perfect example of what makes Southeastern so special,” said President John Crain. “I convened a group to combat litter. They not only addressed that issue, but then began exploring ways to expand involvement and nurture a culture of conservatism across campus. Southeastern’s students, faculty and staff always go above and beyond. This is but one instance.”

After conducting a survey of student perceptions regarding litter and conservation efforts on campus, committee members drew from the responses and added 30 new trash receptacles to parking lots and a few other campus locations identified as “litter hot spots.” In addition, 40 more blue outdoor recycling cans were added to the campus mix. These complement the 130 indoor recycling bins for paper and cardboard distributed throughout campus buildings.

Recycling Bins


Since beginning single-stream recycling in 2012, Southeastern has recycled 255.94 tons of paper, plastics and metal cans. Approximately 99.185 tons of cardboard have been recycled since the university installed a cardboard baler in 2013. And, since collaborating with Print Cartridge Recyclers of America in 2014, Southeastern has collected approximately 5.17 tons of used print cartridges and packaging for recycling.

The committee will continue to meet and has plans to look into such things as possibly partnering with campus food service provider Aramark on composting, providing vehicle trash bags to reduce litter in parking lots, coordinating “Clean Up” days for campus buildings and outdoor areas and making sure trash containers are available for all special events hosted on campus. 

For more information about Southeastern’s ongoing efforts to keep getting greener, go to or to visit the university’s Sustainability Center and see the efforts in action. Email or call 985-549-5034 to schedule a visit for yourself or your group.