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MSU and East Lansing businesses are teaming up to go green

Michigan State University students and East Lansing community members are teaming up to implement new equipment and methods to give more meaning to “go green.”

MSU students are becoming more involved in the East Lansing environment by implementing new technology on campus and promoting energy efficiency in campus groups and outside organizations like Michigan Energy Options.

Assistant Director Jennifer Battle at the Office of Campus Sustainability said the university is adding more renewable energy to the campus, such as a new anaerobic digester.

“We’re taking animal waste and food waste and putting it in a digester that renews the energy and powers buildings on campus,” Battle said.

Environmental Economics and Policy Sophomore Sara Savoia said the new anaerobic digester burns garbage and makes methane for energy and is considered one of the most revolutionary digesters on a campus in the nation.

Battle said the university has experienced a reduction of greenhouse gases by 17% since the fiscal year 2010. She said MSU tries to be aesthetically pleasing while also promoting eco-friendly habits.

“We want to make sure we have a park-like setting and carbon energy,” she said. “We have pledged to reduce carbon greenhouse emissions.”

She said there has been more student activation recently and that there are many students getting involved in improving the environment through hands-on activities.

“Overtime attitudes and beliefs from students have changed,” she said. “We’ve seen a lot more student interested in sustainability and it’s been great in helping our office engage the rest of the student body and get them involved and share information.”

Bryan Madle, the education and outreach coordinator at Michigan Energy Options, said they work with some MSU student interns who are working to improve the energy efficiency around the city.

Madle said MEO is currently working on modifying areas such as the 20 miles that stretches along Grand River Avenue from the Lansing capitol building to Webberville.

“We are remodeling energy efficiency,” he said. “One of the long term goals is to make predictions and to enhance the community.”

Madle said the organization helps local businesses and homes with their energy plans and teaches people how to be more efficient and environmentally friendly.

Environmental Engineering Graduate Student Er Ping Lu is an intern at Michigan Energy Options in East Lansing and said she hopes to see an improvement in better energy planning around the city.

“Basically we recommend people to restore some equipment in their house,” Lu said.

Lu said the interns usually have general meetings to discuss new ideas and analyze data sets. They are currently doing an energy review of consumption along Michigan Avenue and Grand River Avenue.

“We recently conducted a survey on people’s energy consumption in East Lansing,” Lu said. “It’s a very important part of our program.”

MEO works with several organizations to promote energy efficiency and has an event called Charrette from Oct. 22-30 throughout areas of East Lansing to open up discussion to the community about how to improve the environment, Madle said.

“Ultimately one of the big parts of it is raising awareness,” he said.

On campus, Battle said there are thousands of projects which impact water, waste and energy.

“Some are very visible and some are behind walls,” she said. “Some people may not even see the projects.”

The university has invested in new bike lanes to help reduce greenhouse emissions as well as purchased electric vehicles and electric charging stations with four at Spartan Stadium and one at Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center, Battle said.

Battle said recycling rates have also increased throughout the campus since 2010.

While Savoia said she has noticed several businesses on Grand River Avenue that do not recycle, she said she hopes to see students and community members learn sustainable habits.

“There is a lot of initiative to be eco-friendly on campus just because it’s such a hot topic in society and the business world today,” Savoia said.

Savoia said there is a lot of recycling in the buildings on campus, but has noticed majority of the businesses along Grand River Avenue do not practice habits like recycling.

“I know a lot of people don’t recycle unless it’s super easy or there’s an incentive,” she said. “I know a lot of kids don’t really care much. It’s a personal choice.”

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