Green is Gold
At Southeastern, green and gold are more than the official colors of the university. These days the colors have taken on new significance: green for the ambitious environmental and sustainability initiative that is making the campus one of the greenest institution in the state; and gold for the precious energy dollars saved.
Learn more about all our initiatives:
Southeastern Sustainability Center
The university instituted the Sustainability Center in order to save operating dollars and reduce waste going to landfills, while at the same time providing an invaluable learning component for students involved in energy, mechanical and construction engineering technology. In 2010, the university's initial efforts with energy conservation and biofuel production saved the university $1.2 million, encouraging our Physical Plant staff to look for additional savings.
As of 2016, eighty percent of waste is recycled and solar energy is harnessed throughout the university. The Sustainability Center has greenhouses, a landscaping facility and solar and wind energy, with more innovations planned. With a goal to be 80 percent off the grid by 2020, Southeastern is fast earning a reputation as the greenest university in the state, if not the South. All of the energy efforts are also used in research by students in the university's Energy Engineering Technology program.
Among the elements of the Sustainability Center are:
- Solar panels on a number of university buildings that generate hot water, as well as electricity
- A strong recycling program designed to reduce waste going to landfills by 80 percent
- A tree and plant farm, in which the university cultivates its own plants and trees for landscaping on campus
- A composting area that converts landscape waste into usable mulch and compost
- Rainwater retention ponds that provide irrigation for plants and support a geothermal system for one of the center’s technology-rich classrooms.
In addition, the Environmental Education Development Outreach within the Sustainability Center provides hands-on learning opportunities and educates students and the public on sustainable initiatives, including a geothermal heating and cooling system, solar thermal panels, solar photo-voltaic panels, wind turbine, biomass electrical generator, and water reclamation ponds.
Campus Recycling Program
In an effort to make recycling as convenient as possible on our campus, Southeastern has a single-stream recycling program. That means all of your recyclable items can go in any of our recycling containers.
Green recycling bins are located on most floors of campus buildings for your convenience. Many are located near printers or copiers to collect paper. Since paper is part of our single-stream recycling program, plastic bottles and metal cans may also be placed in these bins. There are also 22 blue outdoor recycling bins on campus.
Turtle Cove Environmental Research Station
Southeastern’s Turtle Cove is located in the wetlands on Pass Manchac, a natural pass that connects Lakes Pontchartrain and Maurepas in southeastern Louisiana. The building was built in 1908 and is home to a variety of ecological and environmental research and educational programs.
What goes on at Turtle Cove?
- University classes (at both undergraduate and graduate levels)
- Professional research and collaborative opportunities like the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Research Program (PBRP)
- Graduate student research opportunities
- Community outreach programs, featuring our ecosystem tours, including the brand new Self-Guided Boardwalk Tour
- K-12 field trips and inquiry-based learning experiences and new field training program for young scientists
- Teacher workshops for continuing education credits
- Collaborative programs with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation (LPBF), and the University of New Orleans' Coastal Education and Research Facility (CERF).
Christmas Tree Recycling Program
For the past 22 years, volunteers and students have helped Southeastern recycle more than 35,000 discarded Christmas trees. Southeastern scientists at Turtle Cove use the discarded trees to help build up marshland in areas that have been impacted by erosion and other factors. The program benefits to our environment and community include:
- protection against shoreline erosion
- building of land to offset subsidence and sea-level rise
- creation of new habitats for plants and animals
- reducing waste going to landfills
- Providing hands-on community service and environmental education for people of all ages.
The results of a pilot program are currently being monitored to determine whether the recycled trees can help fill in the logging ditches, formed when the area’s cypress forests were cut down over a hundred-plus-year span. If successful, this technique could be used in other similarly stressed ecosystems in coastal Louisiana.
Reconnect Farmers Markets
Southeastern is home to the only student-run farmers market on a college campus in
the state! The student environmental club Reconnect organizes several farmers markets
each semester, held in front of the Student Union. The events feature food sales from
area farmers, fresh produce, food samples, arts and crafts, homemade soaps and vendors.
Reconnect participates in the Real Food Challenge, a national effort among college
students to promote the use of locally grown, healthy and sustainable food products.
Community Garden and Greenhouse
The campus community garden (located at the Sustainability Center) was recently restarted by student groups with plans to turn it into a garden for our entire community and an educational tool for local youth. The groups are working on securing a grant for greenhouse repair to further improve this great resource.
Southeastern Sustainability Society
Founded in 2014 by a a group of students passionate about the environment and their university, the Southeastern Sustainability Society was founded to expose students to sustainable consumption practices like recycling and the use of renewable and reusable energy. The group has since helped raise funds for projects to improve sustainability practices among students, including the outdoor recycling bins, and support the Physical Plant's efforts to position the university as one of the greenest in the state.