Furman University is a private liberal arts college in Greenville, SC.
In 1994, it established a recycling program which increased interest in sustainability across the campus.
“Furman has always been at the forefront of sustainable measures and we wanted to find a way to reduce the impact of our cleaning operations,” says Phil Lewis, custodial services manager at Furman. “Green cleaning was a natural initiative for us.”
After testing several products and systems, the custodial services department selected Green Seal-certified chemicals and a microfiber cleaning system.
It also implemented a reputable manufacturer’s program, which provides a pathway and best practices to clean and maintain sustainable buildings.
In addition, the university implemented an extensive walk-off matting program to help enhance indoor air quality and began using paper towels with recycled content.
Eco Cottage and campus initiatives
To help cultivate students’ commitment to sustainability, the university also developed a residential “Eco Cottage.”
The Eco Cottage is a retrofitted building with solar panels that allows environmentally minded students to live and measure their carbon footprint by monitoring utilities, recycling, and other associated environmental costs.
The university encourages student participation through events, such as “Furman’s Gets Trashed” where dorms compete against one another to divert the maximum amount of material from the waste stream.
“Furman develops outreach campaigns to build awareness on campus and throughout the local community,” Lewis says. “We want to encourage everyone to think about their environmental impact and educate them on ways they can reduce it.”
In addition, academic courses have been designed to educate students about sustainability.
Furman University’s Hipp Hall is South Carolina’s first LEED-NC Gold-certified building.
The university has plans to achieve certification for five additional buildings.
A new science building currently under construction will use new chill beam technology and will also feature interactive displays for students to monitor energy use and a tidal bioremediation system.
Additional sustainable initiatives include locally grown food options in campus kitchens, a bio-diesel fuel program that provides fuel for lawn mowers, and campus energy competitions in which dorms compete to reduce energy use.
Last year, the university kicked off its “Year of the Environment” campaign. It hosted several conferences and workshops featuring notable environmentalists.
Many constituents throughout the campus network partnered with other local, regional, and national groups to help educate others about sustainable programs.
This year, the campus was selected by Southern Living magazine as the location for the magazine’s first green home.
Expected to draw up to 40,000 visitors, the home will later be turned into the Furman Center for Sustainability.
Furman gained recognition as a leader in sustainability and as a pioneer in green building technologies.
Through their green program, the university achieved a 35 percent reduction in energy use per square foot across its 800-acre campus and was recognized by KIWI magazine as one of the 50 most environmentally conscious colleges and universities in the country.
Furman University is also one of the 25 charter signatories to the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment.
Furman’s green efforts have resulted in numerous awards, including the “Award of Excellence” from the South Carolina Green Building Council, the “Home Store Hero” award from Habitat for Humanity, and the “Collegiate Recycling Award” from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.
In April, the university received the Sam Johnson Leadership in Sustainability Award at JohnsonDiversey’s Sustainable Facility Care Forum in Washington, D.C.