Written by Divya Khandke
Now that the my summer fellowship has come to a close, I can say that over just a few months I learned so much about Furman University’s sustainable initiatives. Furman has numerous different programs and credits that contribute to its success and has so much to be proud of. As Furman progresses towards its carbon neutral goal of 2026, it will stand as even more of an ideal example for other schools. Just this summer, Davidson College, Johnson C. Smith University, and Queens University all visited to Furman to learn about Furman’s sustainable programs, systems, and accomplishments.
This past summer, I collected data for Furman’s annual Greenhouse Gas Inventory. The entire assessment is nearly complete with just one more section to complete with a survey that needs to implemented this academic year. Furman’s sustainable progress can be seen in its use of solar and solar thermal sources much more heavily this year than in year’s past. Furman has used about 3,000 gallons less in its gasoline fleet than last year, and more significantly, Furman has reduced its purchased electricity by 700,000 Kw-hrs. This reduction may be due in part to the geothermal energy sources causing energy reductions in the North Village Apartments. As the geothermal sources are utilized more and more, it should help to bring our energy costs and usage down in the future. Aside from some of the direct sources of improvement, Furman has also improved in some of the indirect carbon sources found in scope 3. For example, Furman has reduced its study away miles by nearly 1 million travel miles this year. A graphic display of the emission sourcesfor dates July 1, 2012- June 30, 2013by scopesrepresented in the inventory can be seen below.
In addition to Furman’s more quantitative sustainability progress, Furman has progressed in the more qualitative aspects of data found in the STARS assessmentas well. Even though it was an off year for STARS, I looked into updating the assessment as of summer 2013 and also looked into tracking the progress of the Sustainable Furman publication. This coming STARS assessment Furman will be able to add several more credits that has the potential to push Furman over from the silver category to the gold. Some of those credits include a credit for sustainability prominence in New Student Orientation and a Local Offset program because of the Community Conservation Corps and their home weatherizations.
Several of the documents I created this summer were geared towards how Furman can improve in their journey for sustainability progress. However, Furman has earned an incredible amount of points in the STARS Assessment for several different programs. Furman should be extremely proud of their Human and Natural Environment general education requirement and the fact that they are one of the few schools in the country that offer a sustainability science major. Furman also has several different smaller programs that contribute to Furman’s success as a sustainability community. Those programs include, a bicycle maintenance program returning in the fall, a to-go system with reusable containers for meals, and xeriscaping in several gardens on campus.
I think many more schools will look to Furman as a role model in the sustainability field as the sustainability movement grows in number across the nation and even the world. Furman’s progress is steadily increasing, and I cannot wait to see what the university will look like post 2026. Best of luck paladins!