Activist For Awareness

by Lauren Owens

Horizon Reporter

One student at Whatcom Community College, Richard Bruno, 48, is working to make the college more energy efficient.

Bruno was a major force behind the first campus waste audit on Earth Day, 2010, and another waste audit on Oct. 12.  Now he is moving his attention towards a new project, focused on displaying sustainable facts on the campus computer monitors.

The Sustainable Committee, a program that monitors and invents new ways for the campus to be environmentally and economically sound, and the Resource Conservation Management Program, run by Brian Keeley at Whatcom has partnered with Bellingham Technical College to get a grant from Puget Sound Energy.

This grant will give both colleges money to make the schools more energy efficient. The grant, if received, will help Whatcom set an example for surrounding educational facilities and reduce energy costs.

Certain criteria must be met for approval of the grant. One requirement is spreading awareness and gaining the support needed from the students and faculty of the college, which is what Bruno is doing through his waste audits and the new computer project.  He hopes the computer displays will have a positive and lasting effect on the campus through sustainability education.

The messages scheduled to appear on the campus monitors in late November, and updated every month, will have varying subject matter such as electricity, water consumption, ventilation, and recycling.

The displays will also play short catch phrases such as, “Think, Choose, Conserve.”  And several “did you know?” sections will have environmental facts, for example, “did you know? A microwave which is plugged in but not being used still uses power.”

The messages will be in collaboration with notices published in the Faculty Insider, a newsletter for staff by Whatcom Community College.

“Working on this program is for the greater good, and it looks good on my transcript,” Bruno said. With a long term-goal to transfer to Western Washington University’s Huxley School of the Environment, and get a degree in Urban Planning / Policy, Bruno feels that he is on the right track.

When Bruno lived in Arizona for several years, he realized how important sustainability is to him. “I watched the destruction of the desert,” Bruno said.  He observed dry golden sands turn into green luscious grass with manicured fruit trees and golf greens. “We are a wasteful society,” Bruno said. “That’s not negative, its just a fact.” This is why “spreading awareness is important” he said.

”I consider myself an opportunist,” he said. “I am always looking for an open door.” His project is a small effort to gain support and educate through symbolism, so thinking about sustainability becomes second nature.

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