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Green light for solar power project

As part of the institution’s commitment to sustainability and energy efficiency, UMass Chan Medical School has reached a 30-year agreement to pay for up to 12 megawatts of solar-generated power from arrays being developed by First Wind, Major Energy, Greenhouse Solar and Hecate Solar in Massachusetts. The first of the three projects, a 2.5-megawatt facility in Palmer, started producing electricity in December. Over the course of agreement, UMass Chan is projected to save a third off its current energy costs—an equivalent of $715,000 annually at today’s rates.

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Kicking the trash can out of the office

Centralized trash is the emerging model for the Medical School’s Worcester campus. It means giving up the trash bin in your office and keeping only the blue recycling bin. The model prompts people to think about what they are throwing away. Recycling is nearby, but the trash bin is down the hall in a common area. The approach has been shown to boost recycling rates.

“We want people to think twice before they throw something away,” said Bill Tsaknopoulos, director of auxiliary services at UMass Chan who manages the campus recycling and trash disposal programs. “Most of what we use at our desks is recyclable, but too often we get in the habit of just throwing stuff in the trash.”

The initiative began as a pilot project on several floors of the Lazare Research Building (LRB). Over the first six months of the experiment, the recycling rate jumped eight points, moving from 12 to 20 percent of waste stream volume for the whole building even though only a fraction of the offices had moved to centralized trash.

Based on those results, the centralized trash program is being rolled out in phases across the campus.