Within two weeks of the university inviting cost-saving suggestions in this time of economic downturn, 184 students, staff and faculty have shared ideas (some of them had several ideas each) via the Web site www.muohio.edu/ThisMakesCents.
By far, the most frequent suggestion is to reduce the number of paper flyers and newsletters distributed on campus and instead send them electronically. Many offices are already making the change. For faculty and staff news, the e-Report is a once per day collection of news and campus announcements. For students and often for faculty and staff, myMiami announcements have replaced paper mailings.
The second-most common idea was to save utility costs by turning off computers overnight, turning off lights in unused rooms, and setting thermostats higher by a few degrees in summer and cooler by a few degrees in winter, in addition to the overall observation that some buildings are very warm no matter what the setting is.
"The more efficient measures we enact the more positive the impact we will have," explained Tony Ferraro, energy management engineer at Miami. "But, some of the older buildings have old and inefficient heating and cooling systems that are hard to regulate."
Changes such as switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs and coordinating on-campus recycling and energy use competitions have raised awareness and reduced waste. A look at this fall's "Unplugged" Energy Bowl is here: /unplugged.jsp>www.pfd.muohio.edu/recycling/events>/unplugged.jsp..
Some people suggested changes that have already taken place: for example, removing unused landline telephones from residence hall rooms. This year, with the university planning to switch to phones using Voice over Internet Protocol - and with students rarely using their room phones - IT services removed landlines from student rooms, but kept them in resident advisers' room and halls, and offered them at request to any student. Thirty-six students requested them.
Also, many people suggested that to reduce food waste, the university prepare less food daily and/or donate leftover items to food pantries. The department of housing, dining and guest services for years has worked to keep waste to a minimum by carefully forecasting menu use, by purchasing only the freshest products and by developing cooks' skills.
"Despite our desire to use everything, first priority is food safety, so we must take the cautious route and discard any questionable item," said Pete Miller, associate vice president for auxiliary services. "We also donate left-over food to The New Life Mission and Shared Harvest of Hamilton following health department criteria.
One campaign we undertake to emphasize waste reduction by student customers is Waging War on Waste (WWOW). In recent years, the trend away from all-you-can-eat to ala carte dining has reduced student food waste, as have the newer methods of preparing many foods individually as they are ordered."
All of the suggestions submitted are being carefully considered. It may take some time to explore the feasibility for some, while others, such as some of those listed above, are easy to implement. Suggestions that are implemented will be highlighted in the e-Report and the suggestion Web site will have a list of all suggestions that are implemented.