Jayson Triplett and Cheree Franco sit on the lawn outside the State Fountain Bakery with their dog, Booger, Thursday during the Earth Day event at Mississippi State University. Triplett and Franco attended the event to find out more about recycling, but also to listen to live music. Photo by: Tim Pratt Buy this photo.
April 23, 2010 9:46:00 AM
A gathering of some of Starkville''s most environmentally conscious minds took place Thursday at Mississippi State University as the 40th anniversary of Earth Day was celebrated around campus.
A percussion ensemble played on the edge of the drill field while a group of Mississippi State students played Frisbee nearby. On Old Main Plaza, between the Colvard Student Union and State Fountain Bakery, children climbed in a tree as their parents sat in the shade, and more than a dozen organizations set up information tables on the edge of the walkway.
The Mississippi Forestry Association and Mississippi State''s Landscape Architecture Department handed out free saplings, while Green Starkville, the Sierra Club and Starkville In Motion gave out information and encouraged students to join. Representatives from BluBox, a division of Triangle Maintenance Service, allowed people to sign up for curbside recycling pickup while about a dozen other organizations talked to passersby.
"Today we are taking a moment to recognize the importance of our environment, energy conservation and the challenges we face as citizens," MSU President Mark Keenum said during an address to the dozens of students, staff and city officials who gathered around the plaza.
It was part of a weeklong series of events on campus and around town celebrating Earth Day and the sustainability movement as a whole.
City, county and MSU officials on Monday held a groundbreaking at the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum, where students from the university''s Landscape Architecture Department are building a series of self-sustaining gardens using storm runoff to water the plants.
On Tuesday, the Tennessee Valley Authority held a demonstration on thermal energy and energy efficiency.
Mississippi State students on Wednesday planted about 1,000 trees on the north side of campus as part of a reforestation effort.
As part of the Earth Day celebration Thursday, Dumas announced a new initiative, dubbed ECO POW, which will offer a framework and guidelines for MSU departments looking to join in the sustainability effort.
Today, the Student Affairs'' environmental committee plans to pick up trash in the Cotton District, on campus and in other parts of town. Much of the trash will be recycled.
"We''ve got some great things happening," Dumas said.
Dumas and Keenum also stressed the importance of reducing the university''s carbon footprint.
According to Keenum, an energy conservation program initiated at the university five years ago has led to a 24 percent decrease in energy use per square foot and approximately $5 million in savings.
Among the improvements, the university converted old steam boilers to more efficient natural gas boilers, reduced Central Plant gas consumption by 33 percent, and completed the expansion of a chilled/heated water loop, which controls the temperature in more than 30 buildings on campus.
Along with cost savings, the university reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 72 million pounds with its energy conservation efforts, Keenum said.
"Our quality of life, especially that which we leave for our children - there''s a lot of children over here, a lot of grandchildren -- it''s important for us and our ability as a university to recognize the importance of preserving our natural resources for the next generation and their children," Keenum said. "It''s so vitally important for all of us ... to help ensure that we have an environmentally sound and very sustainable future for our next generation."
"All of us share the responsibility to take care of planet Earth -- our home," Keenum said.
Mississippi State sophomore Ashley Allen, of Starkville, was one of the many students who stopped by the information tables during Earth Day. She was pleased with the sustainability efforts taking place on campus and around town.
"I try to be energy efficient and protect the environment, and save money at the same time, and it''s easier now because there are so many resources available," Allen said.
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