• Updated : 2019.5.24 금 13:45
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Going Green: Make CNU the Green Campus of Korea
Nguyen Huong 기자  |  huonghn1504@gmail.com
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승인 2017.05.18  15:46:54
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▲ Three students are showing mugs, encouraging us to make use of them and be more ecologically responsible so that CNU campus and the environment around us can be greened and detoxified. It is the first step toward making the campus more sustainable.

    The dawn of Korea’s environmental troubles has awakened a rising concern over the nation’s fearful pollution. As a response, numerous universities in Korea have been zealously involved in the green campus movement. The aim is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on campus and encourage more participation in green lifestyle practices. Chonnam National University (CNU) is not at all behind with this eco-friendly and green campus trend. In 2008, CNU started to promote the “Eco-Campus” project. With the hope of raising awareness of responsible behaviors towards the environment, the Chonnam Tribune examines CNU’s ecological footprint by focusing on CNU students’ take-out trends, the recycling and trash system, energy consumption, and stories of CNU’s passionate environmental advocates.

Did You Pick Up a Cup of Coffee on the Way to School Today?
    Anyone who lives in Korea knows all about its take-out culture. Hong Min-pyo (Graduate Student, Dept. of English Language and Literature) said, “I rarely buy takeout drinks, but my friends usually have takeout drinks during classes.” Walking around campus, one can easily spot students rushing through buildings with a delicious plastic or paper cup of coffee, which goes with unbleached paper wrap for heat protection, plastic straws, plastic bibs, plastic lids, drink stirrers, napkins, and cream/sugar packets. These items are, in most cases, unnecessary. Picking up a coffee to go has become a daily routine for CNU students but it can also be a problematic one.
    According to The Korea Herald, 338 cups of coffee are consumed by the average Korean each year (2013). The number has reached 500 cups in 2016. The production of 1 ton of paper cups requires about 20 trees to be chopped down. Additionally, every single paper cup produced equals 11 additional grams of CO2 released into the atmosphere. One person’s consumption is tolerable, but the total of paper and plastic waste in Korea is fearsome. Reportedly, Korea’s paper cup consumption grows 20-30% each year. Not only are disposable cups harmful to Mother Nature, but your health can also be in jeopardy as bisphenol-A from the plastic coating could seep into your drink. In light of this, maybe you should think twice before buying that disposable cup of coffee. Hong Min-pyo also added, “Personally, I will definitely reduce any takeout purchases on and off campus. Sometimes, our campus is dirty because of too much trash.”

▲ Solar power units installed at the G&R Hub

Unraveling CNU’s Recycling and Trash Management System
    Needless to say, recycling is one of the top priorities of any green campus. Regarding CNU’s management of on-campus trash, the manager of the Planning and Coordinating Department revealed, “Sorting and recycling is done by trash cleaners. Every day, collected trash is processed at a common place designated by Gwangju City.” He suggested placing recycling bins on campus to efficiently process trash but commented that it seems unrealistic due to budget matters. Additionally, one issue facing the department is people throwing their home-produced waste in campus trash bins. Hence, if trash from external sources can be prevented and restricted, CNU’s resources will have less trash to deal with, which also benefits our landscape.
    How about wasted food and products at some of CNU’s most frequented places? We contacted their staff and discovered some interesting findings. At the Student Union 1 building, there are about 200kgs and 70kgs of waste per day during the semester and vacation respectively. A private company is hired to process the food waste of the restaurant and turn it into fertilizer. Uncooked ingredients not in contact with fire can be reused, like salad, according to the law. This practice is also conducted at Dormitory 9 BTL’s cafeteria, a private unit, which the cafeteria is being challenged by the disposal’s cost of the food waste, 340kgs a day, and the related environmental issues. By taking this tremendous quantity of waste from these two example restaurants into account, it would be beneficial for the health of both CNU students and our campus if we could have more moderate and conscientious eating habits.

▲ After Green Action’s tree planting campaign on March 25 / Photo: Green Action

Not to Expend Excessively but Responsibly
    Does knowing that Korea is the 10th largest energy consuming nation in the world challenge us to think about our consuming behavior? In the case of CNU, energy consumption data is thoroughly monitored, which then will shape the conservation plan and guidance for each department. According to CNU’s Comprehensive Measures for Energy Saving Report targeting Yongbong, Hakdong, and Hwasun campuses published on January 9, 2017, the bad news is the electricity bill has increased from 5,341 to 5,769 million won over the past two years. This was as a result of new buildings and the replacement of gas boilers with electric boilers. Water and sewage bills also saw a rise of 6.1% due to more buildings being built, leaks in construction sites and old buildings. The good news is that gas consumption has shown a downward trend in the past five years, which translates into a greener CNU. This alone is an excellent improvement as the less gas used, the less greenhouse gas emissions introduced to the earth.
    Furthermore, the university has worked diligently towards saving energy. One of the solutions is renewable energy. According to Jang Jong-chae, the manager of the building management team, 1,189 solar and geothermal power units have been installed at various places, including the College of Engineering, the College of Agricultural Biology, the College of Natural Science, the G&R Hub, the Kindergarten building, and the Eco-Friendly Agriculture Research Center. The installation generates a staggering amount of estimated savings – nearly 69.5 million won. Additionally, 35.2% of common lightings fixtures have been replaced with LEDs and the number is expectedly to increase. He mentioned that efforts to prevent any overconsumption of energy are made by 15 monitoring teams forming a total of 36 staff who conduct frequent inspections around campus. Interestingly, as part of CNU’s energy conservation plan, thanks to a motion sensor system attached to the ceiling lights in some classrooms automatically turn off when no motion is detected. CNU students can also keep an eye on any unused devices or facilities and shut them off.

▲ GPS’s 1st sewage treatment campaign around the banks of Gwangju and Yeongsan Rivers

Who Else on Campus Is Protecting the Environment?
    “When I was little, close to my house there was a river contaminated by filthy residential waste and then it was purified by some environmental organization. Since then, I thought small actions could save the environment and this is why I actively work at Green Partner Society (GPS)”, said the president of GPS Kim Jun-yeop (Junior, Dept. of Environmental Engineering). GPS, one of CNU’s environment advocate clubs, has good participation with passionate individuals who are making our campus greener and cultivating more environment experts. The group has gone from small actions – labelling each garbage can in Engineering building 3 to encourage people to categorize trash for better recycling – to big actions such as distributing the bike maps, which they have been working on since 2010 to inform CNU students about bike roads and encourage the usage of bicycles. GPS has also conducted many more impressive eco-beneficial activities. It is the gateway to take action and save the environment while earning volunteer credits for any Environmental Engineering major.
    Students from other departments who are keen on the environment and eco-friendly lifestyles can reach out to another community - Green Action Club. The president Hong Ki-sung (Junior, Dept. of Environment) proclaimed, “This year, we have run a campaign to promote ‘Water Day’ to remind people of the value of water. We usually run our ‘Vegetarian Burger’ campaign in fall semester but are working to make it happen right after midterm-exams this semester. Outside of campus, we have done numerous volunteering projects for the National Climate Center, Gwangju Environmental organizations and others.” He also mentioned the ‘takeout cup’ issue and suggested solving the problem by reserving special garbage bins only for them. Participating in Green Action gives access to a range of networks on campus, valuable knowledge of the environment, and some volunteering credits.
    One of the bright minds of CNU, professor Jung Sok-hee (Dept. of Environment and Energy Engineering) also shared with us his devotion to our environment, “When I was an undergraduate, I wanted to develop a wastewater treatment process that is eco-friendlier than the existing one. To this end, I went to the United States in 2004 and 13 years later, I am continuing my research at CNU.” He mentioned that the present treatment expends tremendous energy, causes odor, and produces a large amount of microbial bodies as a byproduct. His research group is currently developing a microbial electrochemical system that is odorless, treats wastewater while consuming zero energy and simultaneously producing electricity using ‘electricity-producing bacteria', and which significantly reduces microbial body generation. “If you want to be a part of this innovation, knock on my door,” he said.

Join in and Be Green with the Movement
    Until now, we have examined both the upsides and downsides of CNU’s ecological footprint to understand that our responsibilities are twofold. First, the University Administration should aim for more installation of renewable energy units and consider having recycling bins around campus. Stricter guidance and penalties should be given to any department or building with an excessive jump in energy consumption. Furthermore, construction of new buildings should follow eco-friendly work codes.
    Secondly, the question is “how green is green enough for CNU?” Different people might have different answers. Essentially, we are facing the troubling reality of the enormous consumption of plastic, paper products and tremendous waste of food, materials and quick-to-deplete energy resources. And yet, if CNU students still feel reluctant to be responsible and mature about our moribund Mother Nature, this is certainly be the wrong feeling to have. It is high time we changed our well-worn habits.

By Nguyen Huong, Student Editor

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