The Physical Plant

For a number of years, the St. Thomas Physical Plant has utilized sustainable operating procedures in many different campus areas. The UST Recycling program was made possible by Physical Plant financial support and sponsorship of a student initiative for recycling paper twenty years ago. Building projects in the last decade have incorporated sustainable design both in electrical and HVAC systems as well as water usage. The University has received rebates from local energy providers because of its use of innovative metering and lighting in new building projects. Variable speed mechanical motors, flush sensors for toilets and urinals, water saving shower heads, light sensors in Minneapolis classrooms that turn down lighting on sunny days, purchase of ergonomic and green furniture manufactured from sustainable materials with low or no VOC resins or finishes are just some of the practices implemented by the Physical Plant and its divisions to make UST a greener campus.

Recent sustainable projects include

  • The Anderson Athletic & Recreation Center opened in September 2010. Although not certified, the new new facility does incorporate many LEED elements in design, construction, and operation. Anderson Athletic & recreation Center LEED Elements.
  • UST receives Xcel Energy 2011 Efficiency Partner Award for an electric savings of 1,486,450 kWh and a natural gas savings of 24,547 therms in 2010 6 June 2011
  • After three years of purchasing 5% of UST electricity from Xcel WindSource, UST became a member of the EPA Green Power Partnership. 20 Apr 10
  • St. Thomas received the award at the 2010 Xcel Energy Efficiency Expo for the largest gas savings by a commercial customer: 93,433 therms in 2009. 17 Feb 10
  • Retrofitting of light fixtures is being completed for all 13 residences serving over 2000 students. 15 major retrofit projects were completed in classroom, academic, and library buildings. Summer 09
  • Installation of energy-efficient burners in the Owens Science building. Summer 09
  • UST Recycling's annual end-of-school clothing drive diverted over 2,600 pounds of clothing and household goods from the waste stream. Spring 09
  • The Anderson Parking Facility opened 16 Feb 09. Although not certified, the new new facility does incorporate many LEED elements in design, construction, and operation. Anderson Parking Facility LEED Elements.
  • The Grounds Department recycles and reuses many materials discarded in the campus dumpsters. For example, when a tree on campus is removed, the wood chips – unless contaminated by Dutch Elm or other diseases – are used as mulch landscape projects. Every effort is made to replace removed trees to replenish the oxygen cycle. All maintenance shop vehicles have three-cylinder engines that emit minimal amounts of carbon. The fertilization program uses only approved chemicals and every effort is made to eliminate runoff into our storm sewer system. All chemicals are applied by licensed, trained professionals to ensure the safety of our community. Fall 08 from Sustainable U
  • Installation of energy-efficient ventilator units in two residence halls. Summer 08
  • Interior Design purchases building furniture and furnishing for University buildings from Steelcase, a LEED certified company. Our purchases of institutional furniture such as the recently furnished McNeely Hall have Cradle to Cradle (C2C) certification. This means they use environmentally safe and healthy materials; design for material reutilization by recycling or composting; and are produced with efficient use of water and energy,
  • UST Building Service Workers have been using 3M green cleaning chemicals in UST buildings for the past eight years. The chemicals are dispensed in an auto-dilute system that helps eliminate chemical waste and increases environmental safety for the Service Workers. This summer, an administrative decision was made to initiate utilization of Ecolab green chemicals in some cleaning applications. Other environmental friendly cleaning procedures practiced include low moisture carpet cleaning with water recyclers, rechargeable cell batteries in many of the automated cleaning machines, restroom cleaning without the use of disposal towels and sponges, quieter running vacuums with treated filters for cleaner air, and replacement of disposable mops and towels with washable microfiber.
  • The Physical Plant in cooperation with Residence Life provided 1100 small recycling containers so every residence room and suite now has its own recycling container for collection, There are now over 2000 recycling containers on our campuses. Summer 08
  • PHP Administration began purchasing 5% of our electrical energy from wind power. Spring 08
  • The Physical Plant office uses recycled paper for all its copying, printing, and scanning operations
  • Additional bicycle racks were installed on campus. Summer & Fall 08
  • Physical Plant staff worked with the Environmental Sustainability Work Group to gather data on energy consumption from the past three years to complete the first UST energy audit. April 08
  • 28,860 Christmas lights decorating the campus were replaced with LED bulbs saving energy and over $5,000 in energy costs over the 2007 Christmas season
  • In 2008, UST increased recycling by 5% over the previous year totaling over 446 tons of various recyclable commodities diverting well over a ton a day from landfills and incineration.