Assistant News Editor
The Alabama Department of Education announced Troy University as its 2019 Green Ribbon School, an award recognizing innovative efforts in reducing environmental impact and sustainable education.
Johnathon Cellon, the associate dean of first year studies and the project manager, said a lot of work is being done to promote environmental design and awareness.
“A lot of work is being done on campus to mitigate environmental impact and educate students and the local community about environmental issues and how to tackle these issues,” Cellon said. “Some of the changes and initiatives we took related to lighting and water usage, reduction in energy leakage and waste, and recycling.
“In new buildings, we started adding timed lighting and bigger windows for more natural light,” Cellon said. “We also retrofitted some of the older buildings to reduce energy usage.”
Cellon said Troy engaged students at the university and in K-12 schools in conversations about environmental impact and best practices.
“We raised awareness about environmental issues by engaging student body in STEM related issues like sustainability, civic engagement including cleanups and the campus kitchen initiative, and encouraged green career pathways,” Cellon said. “We also worked on educating K-12 school systems locally and statewide about these issues.
“For example, Troy hosts the Ground Water Festival, an annual conference for local school kids to learn about environmental impact and environmental preservation.”
Cellon said Troy focuses on student and staff health and wellness including providing fitness facilities and healthy food options.
“Another important angle that was considered was improving health and wellness of students and staff,” Cellon said. “The new student wellness center is definitely a positive push, also Trojan Dining updating their menus to include more healthy options.”
Cellon said Troy’s new Center of Material and Manufacturing Sciences that is currently being developed was a factor in Troy being chosen as the Ribbon School.
“Troy recently received a $3.2 million grant from National Institute of Standards and Technology to establish the Center for Material and Manufacturing Sciences,” Cellon said. “Added to that, our partnership with KW Plastics — the world’s largest plastic recycler — helped set us apart.”
Cellon said winning the award was a university-wide effort that started organically but will take a more formal approach to compete in the national competition.
“This was a university-wide effort from Physical Plant to academic departments, to student organizations,” Cellon said. “This all happened organically at first, but being in the national competition we will continue looking into ways to improve and work better together towards winning.
“Only one school gets recognized per year,” Cellon said. “The university should be proud.”