Q&A: UNO College of Business Administration is “going green”

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By Tressa Eckermann, Contributor

Contributor Tressa Eckermann sat down with the director of operations at Mammel Hall, David Nielsen and Chief Sustainability Officer at CBA, Richard Yoder to find out what the University of Nebraska at Omaha is doing to “go green” in the College of Business Administration.

Who made the decision to go green in the College of Business?
The CBA LEED Gold Certification at Mammel Hall was led by [Dr. Louis] Pol, the Dean of the College of Business Administration.

Who led the charge to bring “green” technical assistance services to businesses in the Midwest?
[The effort of] bringing “green” technical assistance services to businesses in Nebraska and business technical assistance providers in Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas and Iowa was started by Rick Yoder when he was hired onto the CBA department called the Nebraska Business Development Center (NBDC) 18 years ago.

Can you talk about LED lighting at Mammel?
The campus expert is over at [the Peter Kiewit Institute], Dr. Clarence Waters. Broadly speaking, the energy used by an incandescent bulb is approximately four times that used by a compact fluorescent light (CFL).
The energy used by a CFL is approximately four times that used by an LED, and they last far longer. When Mammel Hall was built, there were some light fixtures that did not have LED bulbs available. As those LED bulbs have become available, non-LED bulbs have been replaced with LED bulbs. For example, in the auditorium and small atrium area on the west side.

Why was this decision made?
I can tell you that different organizations have their own reasons for choosing to adopt green technologies and practices. I just came from a great tour of PayPal yesterday where they pointed to many different green projects, and the reasons justifying action were numerous and varied.
I don’t think there is any one reason for choosing to “go green.” I think there’s a danger to those who tell the “going green” story of falling into greenwashing trap if they don’t do their homework. The approach we take to going green is to prevent waste. Recycling is a necessary activity but far less desirable than never creating waste in the first place. This leads to material savings for business.
We have limited resources available to everyone. Our economic engine requires wise management of those resources. As wonderful and ingenious as technical solutions are, the engineers who devise them need to work with business and policy experts to get the solutions implemented.
I think going green offers a wonderful opportunity for faculty and students of all colleges to gain a mature understanding of the intricate connectedness of our world.
Dean Pol thought it was critical the college follow what it was teaching about sustainability in courses. Mammel Hall could serve as an example of what you can do in regards to sustainability: a working lab of sorts.

Why do you think this is an important effort to make?
If done right, it saves money, creates desirable jobs and maintains quality of life.

Can you tell me about other efforts on campus?
Patrick Wheeler is a good person to talk to about other things going on around campus—I think he’s been involved in the visible Zip Car, B-cycle and even the electric vehicle owned by UNO. Another person to speak to is John Amend, who oversees facilities and maintenance—they are the ones making energy, water and chemical use decisions that impact everyone on this campus.
Ken Hultman is working with Jean Waters here at CBA to implement more green procurement and environmentally preferable purchasing (EPP) practices around campus.
Edward Johnson has done some innovative things here at CBA that are now finding their way into other buildings on campus.
John McCarty and Chris Reed are working on sustainability classes at both the undergraduate and graduate level.
What are some of the ways you have gone green?
The big success story we always point to is the move from desk computers to the cloud. David is, once again, elbows deep into the decision-making and implementation of this very successful energy efficiency story that has been told before, but which is also continuing to provide measurable benefits.

The CBA Green Team works constantly to improve building operations. Thanks to Jean Waters for her leadership. To their credit:

  • Building occupant education—captive audience advertising.
  • Tracking energy and recycling use—made visible on the building dashboard.
  • Point of use information —recycling bins.
  • Elimination of waste cans in classrooms.
  • Downsizing of trash receptacles in offices. Upsizing recycling.
  • Centralizing printers.
  • Energy Star Portfolio Manager tracking.

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