We focus on resource conservation in many of our everyday practices, from our greenhouse to mixed recycling to blue cleaning, and support our Sustainability Plan goals. Here's how we do it:
Sustainable practices features
Cleaning related content
Really, we use tap water to clean many of our buildings instead of using harsh cleaning chemicals. Specific “blue cleaning” equipment turns ordinary tap water into electrically activated water (EAW), resulting in a multipurpose cleaning solution, eliminating the need for traditional cleaners.
When blue cleaning is not appropriate in some situations, the next best option is green, and we are purchasing more Green Seal Certifed chemical cleaners and soaps each year.
Recycled Paper Products
Just as the University has switched to recycled printing paper, using recycled paper products for toilet paper and paper towels was an easy switch for us, and encourages sustainability in the supply chain and procurement of purchased goods and services.
Landscape related content
Campus Biodigester (landscape)
Nutrient-rich compost produced by the campus biodigester provides a valuable soil amendment for campus greens. Enriching soil with compost supports healthy vegetation through the suppression of weeds and diseases, which can reduce reliance on synthetic lawn chemicals, thus improving the ecological health of the local environment.
Greenhouses & Nursery
Princeton is one of a handful of non-agricultural universities to have its own greenhouses and nursery, thanks to Beatrix Farrand's vision in 1935. As Princeton's first landscape architect, Farrand argued the University could save money, gain new plant varieties and acclimate plants to the New Jersey environment by growing them in-house. In 1935 the original greenhouse was located between what is now Roberts Stadium and Faculty Road. We now have multiple greenhouses and a nursery south of campus, just down the road from where we make our own soil and mulch.
Integrated Pest Management
We use a system called integrated pest management (IPM), which examines comprehensive information on the life cycle of pests and their interaction with the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment. To this end we have minimized herbicide use by using other methods such as releasing beneficial insects to eliminate various pests in the landscape and using plants that are resistant to pests and do well in our environment.
We recycle nearly 100% of our vegetative products (leaves, trees, excavated soils) making mulch, compost and soil that is returned to campus. We recycled 4910 cubic yards of vegetative material in 2013.
We are experimenting with organic fertilizers and compost teas as effective alternatives to chemical fertilizers. Unfortunately, the impacts from outdoor events on campus, weather and campus expansion has increased our need over the past few years to use fertilizer. So experimenting with organic approaches to plant/soil care, such as using compost tea which is a concentrated water based solution that extracts microbes and nutrients from compost, becomes even more important as we work to keep our campus both beautiful and sustainable.
Designing a sustainable campus means looking at space outside our buildings as well. Low impact development considers techniques such as strategic site design, reducing stormwater run-off and functional landscaping. Various systems on campus relocate water run-off into perforated pipes that allow water into the soil and into rain garden planting areas instead of storm drains. Rain gardens both retain and filter stormwater, providing benefits to the local watershed and stream systems by encouraging stormwater infiltration and reducing erosion. We also have green roofs and planted areas over structures that filter the water and contribute to our goal of reducing campus stormwater run-off 'down the hill' into the lake.
Since 2007, the campus had a net increase of approximately 2,370 trees. In total, nearly 12 acres of woodlands and five acres of open green space have been established over that same time period.
Waste reduction related content
Campus Composter (reuse)
The campus composter encourages resource reuse by recycling nutrients back into the environment through the conversion of food waste into a soil amendment for campus greens. The goal of this pilot project is to investigate the potential for decentralized food waste recovery and conversion for campuses, municipalities, and industry.
The good news is recycling is everywhere today; the bad news is recycling is different everywhere. What can successfully be recycled on campus may not be the same as your hometown. Please download the Recycling on Campus app today and help Princeton's recycling streams stay recyclable.
Recycling 95% of construction materials
Recycling 95% of anything is impressive, and seemingly impossible on a construction site. However, when challenged Facilities found ways to actually meet a 95% minimum requirement to recycle all demolition and recycling debris for all major building projects and renovations post abatement, and we actually exceeded 95% when we built our Neuroscience Institute and Peretsman-Scully Hall complex.
Resource Recovery Program
The University's resource recovery program donated, reused, or sold more than 95 percent of discarded furniture and electronics in 2013. Year-end donations from Princeton students has also risen significantly since 2008. You can benefit from our resource recovery program by selecting items for your office or purchasing items for your home. Isn't it time to organize those files?
Smaller waste carts
We removed the huge dumpsters from behind our campus buildings and now drive small carts to transport campus waste. This project will help reduce gasoline, beautify campus, and over time may help quantify waste coming from different parts of campus.