MSU demonstrates sustainability efforts to MDEQ
Michigan State University hosted Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Director, Dan Wyant along with key MDEQ staff on May 12. The department is responsible for promoting wise management of the state’s air, land, and water resources to support a sustainable environment, healthy communities, and vibrant economy.
Wyant, a MSU alumnus, was given a tour of MSU facilities including the Recycling Center and Surplus Store, Anaerobic Digester, Advanced Asphalt Characterization Lab, and the T.B. Simon Power Plant.
The tour kicked off at the Recycling Center and Surplus Store where the group saw, first hand, the lengths MSU goes to, to reuse and recycle on campus. So far MSU has reused or recycled 10,646,654 pounds of material. Products that MSU no longer has a use for but are still in working condition are sold at the Surplus Store where community members can get a bargain and MSU can rest assured the items are not sitting in a landfill.
“All of the innovations happening at MSU to promote sustainability right now have the potential make a powerful impact on our economy,” Wyant said.
Next up was the anaerobic digester which converts waste material into methane that can be then captured and used as fuel. In one year the digester can take 17,000 tons of organic waste and turn it into 2.8 million kilowatt hours of electricity.
The digester is a key part of helping MSU reach Governor Snyder’s recycling challenge. In April of 2014, Snyder announced his statewide recycling initiative which he hopes will increase recycling by 15 percent in the next two years.
“MSU has had a commitment to recycling and sustainability long before Governor Snyder’s initiative was announced,” Wyant said, “And it is apparent from the investments the university has made.”
Debuting in Aug. of 2013, the digester was a $5 million dollar project but is expected to have paid for itself in less than 15 years.
The tour continued to the Advanced Asphalt Characterization Lab where MSU researchers are focusing on various pavements related topics including pavement modeling, development of digital models, and image processing. The lab, run by Dr. M. Emin Kutay, is currently focused on projects such as; image based measurement tools and unsaturated water flow within interconnected cracks in soils.
Ending the tour was the T.B. Simon Power Plant, an on-campus power plant which provides electricity, heat and steam to the university. The plant has shifted its primary fuel from coal to natural gas in the past years, making the process much more environmentally friendly.
“Seeing the facilities in person puts into perspective all the efforts MSU is making to be a truly Green school,” Wyant said.