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Vol. 19 No. 2 - April 2013

Environmental Issues Of Educational Institutions

By: S. K. Srivastava*

Environmental issues include waste disposal and recycling, water management strategy, energy consumption, possibilities of using renewable energy and carbon foot print. These have been detailed below.

Issue 1: Waste Disposal and Recycling Strategy

Waste constitutes unwanted and discarded material. This waste needs to be disposed for clean, disease-free and healthy environment. Wastes can be classified as municipal, industrial, agricultural, medical, mining waste and sewage sludge. Wastes can be hazardous if they are toxic to plants and animals, inflammable, explosive, corrosive or highly reactive chemical.

The following wastes are generated out of the activities on the institutes:

The Waste Generated out of the Sewage

The Waste Generated from Canteen

The Waste Generated out of laboratories operating on the institutes

The Waste Generated out of the offices specially the paper waste.

The e-waste generated out of the usage of printers, and computer and allied equipments.

The Waste generated due to litter (leaf fall) in the premises of the institute.

Presently, the garden waste is thrown outside the institute for animals to feed on. The broken glasswares are collected and returned to the concerned suppliers. The harmful chemicals are autoclaved and hence become harmless. The canteen waste is segregated into food materials (biodegradable) and plastic materials (non-degradable). Paper waste is shredded through shredding machine and thereafter given to the administration department for handing that over to the junk monger. Rest of the waste is dumped besides hostel from where the waste collector takes it the next morning.

Suggested Strategies

The waste management and recycling strategies are used in the institutes. However, the following actions and improvements could be suggested:

  1. Develop public education and awareness programs.
  2. For garden waste, a big pit should be dug inside the institute and garden waste should be put in it so that it forms manure.
  3. Use of polythene bags etc. should be banned in the institute.
  4. Instead of using cans in the canteen, if bottles and glasses are used, it will lead to lesser waste.
  5. Prevent wastage of paper. If some corrections are required in the document, they should be done in soft copy instead of taking out the drafts in hard copy. This will reduce wastage of paper.
  6. The faculty and students be encouraged to use both sides of the paper before sending it for shredding in the security department. This implies that all the rough work must be done on the reverse side of used paper.

Issue 2: Energy consumption and possibility of using renewable energy

Life on this planet depends upon a large number of things and services provided by the nature, which are known as natural resources. Thus water, air, soil, minerals, coal, forests, crops and wild life are all examples of natural resources. The natural resources are of two kinds: Renewable resources and Non-renewable resources. Renewable resources are those that can be regenerated e.g. forests, wildlife, wind energy, biomass energy, tidal energy, hydropower etc. Non-renewable resources cannot be regenerated. Fossil fuels like coal, petroleum, minerals etc. are the examples of non-renewable resources. Once we exhaust these reserves, the same cannot be replenished. Even our renewable resources can become non-renewable if we exploit them to such an extent that their rate of consumption exceeds their rate of regeneration.

Relevance for Institute

Assuming an institute has around 100 air conditioners with 525 Ton capacity. Fans are approx 1200, tube lights are approx 2000, water pumps are 10, water coolers are 20 and aquaguards are 20 and the contracted load is 1500 KVA. As a standby, a Diesel Generator of same capacity is also kept. Diesel Set emission is an area which requires immediate attention and proper action is required from pollution control point of view.

Suggested Strategies

For promoting renewable source of energy and reducing energy consumption in Institute, the following strategies can be adopted:

  1. In the institute canteen, food can be cooked using pressure cookers. This will save cooking fuel / energy.
  2. The Solar Energy Utilization: The solar energy can be directly used for the water heating purposes. The city of Lucknow has a bright sunshine during the most part of the year. The hot water obtained from solar heaters can be used even for cooking and this will reduce the heat requirement from cooking gas or electricity. There is a possibility of installing such water heating arrangements for canteen and other purposes where costs may not be prohibitive.
  3. Reduction in the electricity consumption by natural air conditioning: Most of the buildings these days are single wall buildings and this increases the temperatures of the inner environs of the building. A double wall would reduce the room temperature to a considerable extent. This external wall could be made at a cheaper cost and can also be used as a decorating wall. This point may be looked into wherever new constructions are being planned.
  4. Cleaner window panes will lead to more lighted rooms and reduce the requirements of electricity.
  5. Air Conditioning: There should be strict air conditioning temperature maintenance at 20 - 22 degrees in each room thereby reducing the energy utilization. Temperature thermometers could be installed at the initial level and later, a central temperature controller could be adopted.
  6. There is a need for continuous effort for encouraging faculty, staff and students to participate in reducing power consumption programmes by making it a practice to switch off all the lights, fans and gadgets when not needed.
  7. NEDA (Non-Conventional Energy Development Agency) is situated in Lucknow. Scientists and officials may be invited to the Institute to make cost-effective suggestions for use of non conventional energy.
  8. PCRA (Petroleum Conservation Research Association) people may be invited for creating better awareness about petroleum conservation among the faculty, staff and students.
  9. Automatic light/electric equipment installation: It has been observed that many a time, the lights remain switched on in the classrooms as there is no one to switch them off in the rooms. An automatic electricity switch off system could be installed leading to efficient energy utilization.
  10. Diesel Engine emissions of carbon mono-oxide (Co) are very large in cu-m capacity and this is very hazardous gas for the health of living beings. An inverter (a device to convert DC in AC) is now a feasible replacement for DG sets. Therefore, if inverter is purchased in place of DG set of 600 KVA, its higher capital cost is compensated by the non-use of diesel within six months. It is, therefore, suggested that Institute should go for inverter so as to totally eliminate production of hazardous gases namely carbon dioxide and carbon mono-oxide.
  11. Students may be asked to service their vehicles regularly and check tyre pressure periodically.

Issue 3: Water Management

Water is an indispensable natural resource on this earth on which all life depends. Now-a-days, water is the burning foreign policy issue for water-short countries.

Institute lawns are watered daily from 1 to 2 hours. Usually gardeners water plants through hazara (cane with multiple holes) and lawns through rubber or plastic pipe.

Following strategies can be used in the institutes for effective water management:

  1. Water should not be wasted and reused wherever possible. For example, the waste water being left out of the usage of the water coolers can be diverted for irrigating the lawns.
  2. Rain water should be harvested. Every roof is a potential water harvesting structure. The roofs should be slanting and beneath it trenches should be dug so that water seeps into the ground and water level is maintained.
  3. The drip irrigation system should be used in lawns and gardens.

Issue 4: Carbon Footprint

Carbon Footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide emitted due to daily activities. It is also a measure of the amount of carbon dioxide emitted through the combustion of fossil fuels in the case of a business organization.

The institutes as centers of learning are not only propagators of the concepts of prevention of environmental damage but are also practitioners. There are a number of sources that add to environmental pollution, for example, the generator, the usage of electricity, the usage of water and unprecedented usage of energy forms for example in cooking etc. Hence, the concept of carbon footprint is very relevant for the institutes.

Suggested Strategies:

Following strategies can be used in the institutes for reducing carbon footprint:

  1. Plantation of trees in the universities/institutes can be promoted. This will not only provide beauty, shade, shelter and food items to the institutes, but also will act as a life time sink of pollutant. Evergreen trees are good collectors of dust. Ficus, Mangifera, Tectona and Polyalthia have been reported to be efficient dust collectors (Varshney, 1992). Solanum melongena and Cyamopsis tetragonoloba are efficient removal of sulphur dioxide. A proper green belt consisting of these trees should be formed all over the institute.
  2. For the institute canteen, more in-season foods instead of tinned, preserved and imported foods can be purchased. Tinned, preserved and imported foods need more fuel inputs, which means a bigger carbon footprint.
  3. Common mass public transport system: There could be a common mass transport system that can be used for connection to the Public Transport System or even a system which could be used to supplement the existing Public Transport System (PTC) for the employees and students of the institutions. For this purpose battery driven automobiles could be used. The system could also be used to connect the two institutes. This action will reduce the fuel emissions from various automobiles.
  4. Placards/small posters display in and around the institute: In order to generate awareness amongst the various stakeholders on the institute an easy learning and a continuous sense of environmental protection could be brought about by displaying placards/small indicators on the institute.
  5. Common oath taking on issues of environment by the institute employees: A common oath could be a good help and motivator to have better environmental commitment amongst the stakeholders of the organization.
  6. Faculty, employees and students who stay nearby should be encouraged to use bicycles.
  7. Role model display of environment-friendly techniques by the senior employees of the institution.
  8. Special plantation drive by the employees and students in the month of July every year

*Addl. Director (Academic Affairs), Amity University Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow Campus, Lucknow (India), <[email protected]>

This article has been reproduced from the archives of EnviroNews - Newsletter of ISEB India.

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