GCU joins sustainability efforts of Reimagine Phoenix

February 28, 2014 / by / 0 Comment
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Grand Canyon University, in the midst of its own renaissance, vowed to be part of another on Thursday.

The University, which has seen its ground enrollment skyrocket by 720 percent since 2008, took part in the Reimagine Phoenix news conference outside Chase Field in downtown Phoenix, vowing to do its part in the city’s effort to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills. Phoenix currently diverts about 17 percent of the waste headed to landfills through its recycling efforts but wants to increase that to 40 percent by the year 2020.

Brian Mueller, president and CEO of Grand Canyon University, shares some of GCU's sustainability efforts during the Reimagine Phoenix news conference Thursday at Chase Field.

Brian Mueller, president and CEO of Grand Canyon University, shares some of GCU’s sustainability efforts during the Reimagine Phoenix news conference Thursday at Chase Field.

“We have a tremendous opportunity to participate in this project with the city of Phoenix,” said Brian Mueller, president and CEO of GCU. “Higher education can get serious about this issue.”

The University’s commitment to sustainability began five years ago with the implementation of a “Think Purple, Go Green” campus-wide recycling program. Since then, GCU has expanded its efforts with more energy-efficient lighting fixtures, automatic thermostats, and water-flow restrictors on faucets and urinals; recycling of mattresses, carpeting, scrap metal, batteries, pallets and fluorescent lamps; and the installation of drinking fountains with water bottle-filling features.

Mueller said further efforts are under way to reduce the number of traditional books used by students, offering eco-friendly e-books instead; to improve processes in the workplace to eliminate paperwork; to decrease food waste at school eateries; and to educate not only GCU employees but people in attendance at campus sporting events and concerts, and share that knowledge with K-12 partners.

For example, Mueller said GCU could eliminate 252 million pages of printed books for its 60,000 students by switching to e-books. Also, food waste has been reduced by 30 percent simply by switching from trays to individual plates (the University serves 10,000 meals per day to its students).

GCU also has been working with the Sodexo Food Service vendor to explore participation in Waste Not, which collects excess perishable food daily and delivers it to agencies that feed the hungry.

Grand Canyon was joined at Thursday’s news conference by new Reimagine Phoenix partners Goodwill Industries of Central Arizona, Mayo Clinic, the Arizona Diamondbacks, PetSmart and Univision Arizona, in addition to existing partners Bashas’ and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

The Diamondbacks will host a zero-waste spring training game on March 13 at Salt River Fields, where GCU students have volunteered to help with the recycling initiative.

“Reimagine Phoenix is our passionate effort to ensure that we are diverting as much out of landfills as possible,” said Greg Stanton, mayor of Phoenix. “We can save millions and millions of dollars and do the right thing for future generations.”

To see a video of the news conference, click here.


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