Hinds CC taking energy conservation a step farther

JANS – Hinds Community College recently welcomed the addition of a new department, the Office of Sustainability. Energy conservation will be the key focus of the department, but recycling will also fall under the office’s duties.

In 2008, the energy conservation effort was implemented district wide. The savings since its inception, which includes all utilities for all campuses, comes to approximately $6.3 million, or 29.4 percent.

“These district wide numbers are the reason the program has been such a huge success for the college,” said Jason Pope, director of sustainability. “This reflects a cohesive group effort on the part of our employees to be better stewards of taxpayer dollars.”

With the recycling initiative taking on a more defined role, with the introduction of desk-side recycling bins, the Office of Sustainability hopes to enhance the already existing program.

According to Pope and Mindy Stevens, sustainability projects coordinator, the college has a duty to help protect the environment through recycling efforts. There is, of course, the added benefit of all the recycling proceeds going toward scholarships in the Honors program and the GED program at the Hinds County Penal Farm, where inmates process and bail all of the recycled goods.

Recent legislation also played a role in the development of the new office. Gov. Phil Bryant recently signed House Bill 1296 during the 2013 Regular Session, which created the Mississippi Energy Sustainability and Development Act. This new law requires each state agency, including Hinds Community College, to submit an official Energy Management Plan to the Mississippi Development Authority.

Currently, the college is averaging about 80,000 pounds of cardboard, or about two semi-truck loads, per month, which is collected from throughout the county.

“Other types of recyclable materials, like paper and plastic, are growing rapidly,” Stevens said. “The college currently recycles paper, plastic, cardboard, aluminum and tin. We are planning on really encouraging people to recycle paper products more often.”

Stevens also spearheaded a program with the college’s cafeteria this fall. All leftover food is now taken to the penal farm and re-used for hog feed. Stevens said she implemented this initiative after traveling abroad to Costa Rica with an Honors group.

“After experiencing Costa Rica’s normal practice of not wasting food, we implemented a similar practice with the Hinds cafeteria,” Stevens said. “Vince Randazzo has been extremely helpful in supporting this initiative. The cafeteria is a huge contributor to all of the recycling on campus.”

The Office of Sustainability is aiming to get desk-side recycling bins out to eligible employees as soon as possible.

“It’s going to take some time to get all the bins distributed, but we are working diligently across the district to ensure everyone has their opportunity to contribute to the recycling efforts,” Stevens said.

Since the energy conservation program began in 2008, the college has saved, district-wide, $6,367,053 or 29.4 percent. Campus percentage savings since inception (electric, water, gas): Raymond: 29%; Utica: 25%; Rankin: 34%; JATC: 31%; Vicksburg: 42%; NAHC: 31% Environmental savings for the district as a whole: MMBTU Avoided: 353,088 MMBTU

This equates to removing 5,801 cars from the road or 826,691 trees planted in a 10- year sequestration.