Despite having one of the greenest thumbs on campus, Karyl Buddington doesn’t really
see herself as a gardener: “I feel like we are all responsible for taking care of
the environment,” says Buddington, the U of M’s Animal Care Facility director.
So much so that Buddington initiated a garden project that has proven to be — no pun
intended — wildly popular. Last summer, tomatoes, strawberries, sunflowers, peppers
and dozens of other herbs sprouted on campus, opening up a sort of farmer’s market
at the University.
Buddington’s effort is one of many initiatives that have blossomed ever since University
President Shirley Raines signed the progressive American College and University Presidents’
Climate Commitment two years ago, pledging a more sustainable campus. New recycling
programs, “green” building projects and efforts by the University’s Police Services
are among many innovative ideas put forth to make the campus more sustainable.
“The novel concept of our garden is that it is all free,” says Buddington of the project,
dubbed TIGuRS. “We will give whatever we produce to whoever wants it if they can use
Education, she says, is a big part of the project.
“We wanted to show our campus and our community that just because we are in an urban
setting doesn’t mean we can’t grow a good part of the food that we eat.”
Associate professor Terra Smith’s dietetics class incorporated the concept of the
garden, located near the Elma Roane Fieldhouse, into its curriculum by using harvested
herbs to prepare recipes. Campus School kids have learned gardening skills and the
value of growing their own food.
“People who have gardens eat a lot of vegetables and tend to eat healthier,” says
Buddington. “With the problem of obesity, a lot of that is because people don’t control
their diets anymore. The garden is an excellent way to have things that allow them
to eat better.”
Fruit trees will be introduced this year along with another progressive concept.
“We are going to add ethnic beds — culturally centered beds. As a university, we have
a diverse population. One of the things that make people feel more at home is if they
have things they can cook with that they would have in their native country. We are
going to put in a salsa bed, another bed that features Asian herbs and vegetables
and several others.”
The garden is 100 percent organic. The campus landscape department, biology and health
and sport sciences have contributed to the garden.
University students played a major role in getting the U of M’s sustainability efforts
rolling by initiating and pushing through the Sustainable Campus Green Fee, which
provides $360,000 per year to campus projects.
“Myself and others initiated the Green Fee because we wanted the U of M to be more
environmentally sustainable and to be an environmental leader for the Memphis community,”
says Erica Christensen, a double major in political science and international studies.
“Originally, we had hoped that a portion of the fee would be permanently dedicated
to the purchase of renewable energy through the TVA Green Power Switch Program and
the remainder would be used for on-campus retrofits and sustainability projects.”
Christensen and Ben Edwards, a senior biology major, co-founded the student group
Environmental Action Club three years ago. Members camped out on the Alumni Mall on
campus to draw interest to their efforts to get the fee passed. Monies have been used
in the garden project, to hire a sustainability coordinator, to install motion sensors
to control lighting in buildings and to introduce increased recycling.
“It is important for students to be involved and included because they are the ones
who voted for the Green Fee and pay for it in order to help the University become
more environmentally sustainable,” Christensen says.
The club has been proactive in on-campus education for students and has been a major
player in the annual Sustainable Technologies Awareness Day, among other things.
If you want to learn more about the University’s sustainability efforts and have fun
while doing so, visit campus October 5 for the third annual Sustainable Technologies
Awareness Day on the fountain plaza next to the Administration Building (rain location
is new University Center). The campus-wide and public event encourages environmental
awareness among the community, students, faculty and staff. Hands-on exhibits and
numerous booths featuring the latest and greatest in “green” ideas showcase the ecofriendly
initiatives on campus and in the region.
One of the major sponsors of the event is the U of M’s Center for Biofuel Energy and
Sustainable Technologies (BEST), made up of concerned U of M professors working in
interdisciplinary teams in researching and implementing responsible energy systems.
BEST has already made national headlines — U.S. Congressman Steve Cohen recently announced
a $500,000 grant to BEST to continue research into a biofuel initiative that would
make it easier to transform common waste materials into fuel for internal combustion
“By taking what some consider waste and refining it into fuel, the University of Memphis
is leading the way when it comes to using green technologies to develop sustainable
sources of energy,” Cohen says.
Dr. Srikant Gir, mechanical engineering professor with the Herff College of Engineering,
believes that with a mature biofuel system in place, the world’s long-time dependence
on petroleum-based fuels could be drastically changed. Gir has already developed a
prototype version of a converter.
The University’s efforts also include reduction of carbon emissions, purchasing green
certified products and implementing major enhancements to the recycling program, according
to interim sustainability coordinator Amelia Mayahi.
“The University has increased the amount and the types of materials that we recycle,”
she says, adding that this results in less garbage pickup, a savings to the U of M.
“In turn, we will also prevent these materials from entering a landfill where they
would remain for thousands of years and release toxins into the air and soil. It is
just the sensible thing to do.
“We are currently in the process of expanding our primary collection sites. There
have also been improvements in our student awareness activities. A recycling truck
has been purchased, which will greatly increase the proficiency of our collection
Visit http://www.memphis.edu/recycling for more U of M recycling information.
Blue patrols turn green
Call them the “green police.”
In keeping with the University’s “green theme,” the U of M’s campus police department
purchased its first hybrid patrol vehicle in late winter.
“We were looking for something that would be economical in which the officers can
commute daily to the downtown (U of M) Law School,” says University Police Services
Director Bruce Harber.
“We plan on getting another one or two soon, and if they work out, perhaps replace
our fleet over time with hybrids. With the driving patterns around campus — stopping,
starting and the 25 mph speed limits — we think the savings will be significant since
the vehicles will run on electric power at low speeds and while idling. There should
be environmental benefits such as a reduction in the use of fuel and reduced emissions
due to the electric power.”
Police Services was asked to reduce fuel consumption by 10 percent, but according
to Deputy Director Derek Myers, the department was able to triple the reduction.
“Capt. Kevin Langellier has been watching our fuel consumption closely and we reduced
use by 30 percent for the regular fleet last year by actively encouraging the officers
to park and turn off the cars as much as possible, while engaging in alternative patrol
methods, such as foot and bike patrols,” Myers says.
Build it and they will come
The University has kept sustainability in mind in its latest building and physical
plant projects — and even designed a futuristic “green” home that has become a model
for the nation.
The TERRA (Technologically + Environmentally Responsive Residential Architecture)
sustainable demonstration house was designed and developed by the Department of Architecture
through the FedEx Institute Center for Sustainable Design at the U of M.
Located at the northeast corner of the intersection of North Main Street and Greenlaw
Avenue in the Uptown Neighborhood in downtown Memphis, the TERRA building features
energy efficient and environmentally responsible techniques, materials, appliances
and fixtures. The house also adheres to the standards of the Memphis Light Gas and
Water Division EcoBUILD program and the American Lung Association Health House program.
Visit: http:// architecture.memphis.edu/terravideo-02.htm for a virtual tour of the home.
This fall, Residence Life will showcase its new dormitory West Hall, the first and
most sustainable public building in the state of Tennessee. It will meet LEED Silver
standards in sustainability and green design, while providing residents with every
modern convenience a college student needs.
A recently completed U of M physical plant project is providing the University with
huge on-going energy savings and is helping in the “greening” of the University. An
addition to the campus cooling plant contains state-of-the-art equipment to provide
better, more efficient cooling to campus buildings. The new technology includes a
computer-driven pumping system that provides cooling only to the buildings that need
it. Annual savings are expected to be in excess of $200,000.
— by Greg Russell