Earth Day

Today is Earth Day and it seems fitting to share an update about American Public University System’s (APUS) most recent sustainability initiatives and accomplishments. 

Big Green BoxRecycling is one of the most fundamental elements of sustainable practices.  At APUS, we have had a recycling program for many years.  A year ago, we expanded the program to include battery recycling using The Big Green Box program.  The cost to purchase The Big Green Box includes the fees for all recycling and a prepaid shipping label to return the box when it is full.  To date, our employees have recycled more than 500 pounds of batteries using this program.  In addition to battery recycling, we practice “recycling through donation” for electronic equipment that is no longer needed or outside of its warranty period.  After removing all of the APUS-related information from the disc drives or electronic memory of still functional laptops, printers, and other equipment, we donate them to our local public schools or non-profits.  In this way, we are able to keep this equipment from landfills and provide technology in classrooms and for groups working in our community at little additional cost to them. 

TelecommutingWe are working diligently to reduce our carbon footprint and have implemented a telecommuting policy that allows many employees to work from home at least one day each week.  In some cases, we have been able to set employees up with appropriate technology and software so they can work from home every day.  Not only is this telecommuting policy beneficial for employees (money saved on gas, for example), it is also beneficial to the university’s efforts to minimize its environmental impact.  Since APUS comprises two online universities (AMU and APU), the only people who regularly commute to our campuses are staff employees.  By allowing them to telecommute on a part-time or full-time basis, we are able to reduce emissions associated with employee commuting. 

Last September, the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia awarded APUS its Community Preservation Award for our work in preserving and restoring historic homes in downtown Charles Town, West Virginia.  Those preservation efforts align with our adaptive reuse policy.  In making our home in Charles Town, we have been able to create a physical campus by reusing historic properties.  While working to preserve as much as we can from a structure to maintain its historic charm and appearance, we also undertake upgrades including energy efficient HVAC systems and new windows. 

Academic CenterThis past December, the US Green Building Council awarded the APUS Academic Center LEED Gold certification.  The building boasts abundant natural lighting, a highly efficient HVAC system, motion-sensor lighting mechanisms, and 99 solar panels on the roof, among other environmentally friendly elements.  The site on which the building is situated is also significant as it was an EPA-designated brownfields due to its previous uses as a junk yard and a scrap metal yard.  The APUS Finance Center which is adjacent to the Academic Center is currently in the LEED certification process as it was designed and built to similar standards. 

As I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, APUS is a finalist for a Second Nature Climate Leadership Award which is awarded to colleges and universities implementing green initiatives.  Finalists were asked to create a 1-3 minute video highlighting their sustainability efforts.  See our video below for additional information about sustainability at APUS.  Don’t forget that during the month of April the public can vote on these videos by visiting the PlanetForward.org website.  You may vote daily.  Thank you for your vote.

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