UK strives for green

By Brian Hancock

UK is going from blue to green.

Students gained insight on sustainability Wednesday at the 4th annual Big Blue Goes Green

Showcase, which took place in the Frank Harris Grand Ballroom of the Student Center.

The event contained over 40 displays, ranging from the University’s solar car to the Cane Run Watershed Project.  Over 600 people attended.

“The goal of this event is to communicate all the on-going efforts here at UK,” Shane Tedder, UK’s Sustainability Coordinator said.

Through BBGG, UK students and faculty were able to explore the many avenues through which UK is trying to become more eco-friendly.

Tom Gregory, UK’s Recycling Coordinator, was on hand to speak about the University’s recycling effort.

“In total, we divert about 27 percent of our waste here at UK,” Gregory said.  “Four to six people come every day to manage all of our recycling.”

In addition, Gregory said that UK hauls out around 1,500 pounds of food every week to be converted to compost.

“We’re greener than most people think,” Gregory said.

Mike Wilson and Andy Placido were at the event to talk about UK’s Center for Applied Energy Research.  The Center is focusing on using algae to capture CO2 from flue gas from coal combustion – a topic of much debate at UK.

“We’re hoping to demonstrate the feasibility of growing algae on a large scale, and to evaluate the different technologies and processes,” Wilson said.

In addition to the various booths, UK 101 students were invited to attend a presentation given by Tedder entitled “Sustainability 101: What every student needs to know about sustainability.”

“It’s not just about sustainability,” King said.  “It’s about economics as well, and how the two go hand-in-hand.”

Perhaps the marquee showcase, however, was UK’s ‘Sky blue’ solar house.  The house, which was completed earlier this year, operates at net zero, meaning it actually produces more energy than it consumes.

“The house is completely livable,” said architecture associate professor Greg Luhan.  “We can actually sell off the extra energy it produces as well.”

The house recently placed ninth in the world at the U.S. Department of Energy’s fourth biannual Solar Decathlon, which was held in Washington.

Though the house is currently located at the Horse Park for the World Equestrian games, Luhan still had a model set up for students and faculty to view.

Taylor Steele, an architecture junior, attended the event for the sake of research.

“We’re here trying to find new technologies to lower costs and make net zero more attainable,” Steele said.

Steele said the showcase gave attendees a broader vision about the environmentally friendly projects taking place at UK.

“This is a step in the right direction,” Steele said. “It’s bringing attention to sustainability and making people think about it like never before.”