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Tuesday, December 17, 2013
by: Rene Abadie
SUSTAINABILITY EFFORTS RECOGNIZED – Southeastern Louisiana University was honored with the Environmental Steward Award by the St. Tammany West Chamber of Commerce. Pictured with the award are, from left, Carlos Doolittle, manager of grounds, landscaping and recycling; Physical Plant Director Byron Patterson; Sebastian van Delden, head of the Department of Computer Science and Industrial Technology; Junkan Ma, associate professor of engineering technology; Mike Asoodeh, chief information officer and professor of industrial technology; and Ed Rode, industrial technology instructor.
HAMMOND – The St. Tammany West Chamber of Commerce has honored Southeastern Louisiana University with its Environmental Steward Award in recognition of the university's wide-ranging sustainability program.
The award, which recognizes a business that conducts or participates in activities that benefit the environment through its practices and policies, was presented at the organization's 13th annual Business Appreciation Awards luncheon held recently in Covington. It is only the second time the award has been presented.
The university instituted its Sustainability Center several years ago in an attempt to save operating dollars and reduce waste going to landfills while providing a strong learning component for Southeastern students involved in energy, mechanical and construction engineering technology.
"It's an honor to be recognized by our neighboring Chamber of Commerce for our efforts that positively impact the entire north shore region," said Physical Plant Director Byron Patterson, whose staff oversees the Sustainability Center.
"Budget cuts in recent years forced us to think in terms of economics," Patterson added. "With the strong financial support of our Student Government Association, we've started some initiatives that have had a significant return on our investment."
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 biofuel production center that converts waste cooking oil into biodiesel used to power off-road vehicles and landscape equipment; a tree farm, in which the university cultivates its own plants and trees for landscaping on campus; a composting area that converts landscape waste into useable mulch and compost; and rainwater retention ponds that provides irrigation for plants and other purposes.
The center also features two technology-rich classrooms designed by engineering technology students for use in research, education and other educational activities.
In addition to saving operating dollars, the center provides a valuable learning opportunity for Southeastern students.
"The center provides students with a hands-on learning environment and research opportunities," explained Sebastian van Delden, head of the Department of Computer Science and Industrial Technology. "With several types of energy technologies, our students have the ability to make adjustments to these devices and observe in real time how the energy output is affected. It's a proving ground to help determine what works best and can be implemented to save energy costs."