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The Member Spotlight celebrates our members who work tirelessly to advance sustainability at their campuses and in their surrounding communities.

DeLayne Miller, Sustainability Manager for the Office of Sustainability at Tennessee Technological University, recently shared how she found her passion for sustainability. She also discussed the importance of energy savings, student impact on sustainability advancements and the benefit of STARS.

Since the start of her career, Ms. Miller always found herself drawn to sustainability. She facilitated Tech’s Sustainable Campus Committee for seven years until she transitioned into the role of Sustainability Manager when the Office of Sustainability was created a little over a year ago.

“We have to be stewards and take care of the environment. Participation from students, faculty and staff is vital for sustainability advancements. Given my personal beliefs, this position felt like a natural fit,” Ms. Miller said.

In the short time that this office has been around, Ms. Miller made an immediate impact by implementing individual meters on buildings to better monitor energy use. Digital displays will soon be made available in resident halls to promote competition among students. “Students are instrumental to sustainability advancements, and competition can help drive action,” Ms. Miller shared.

With budgets getting tighter across all departments, initiatives such as energy savings can help an entire campus rally around sustainability. These savings show short term improvements and an immediate return on investment that gives students, faculty and staff the opportunity to better the environment through action.

Bottle Fill StationRecycling, bike share, bottle fill stations, solar picnic tables, garden projects are several initiatives that Ms. Miller plans to expand on. In addition, Tech is currently working on completing their first STARS report. “My hope is when the STARS data is fully collected and submitted, we can tangibly see what our impact is and go from there,” Ms. Miller said.

Ms. Miller was excited to talk about how the network connections through AASHE membership continues to support Tech in building their sustainability office. It was another AASHE member that suggested Tech submit STARS report to benchmark progress and create future sustainability goals. “In addition to working on our own report, STARS allows us to learn from what other schools are doing and create similar programs at our campus.”

How does your institution evaluate its sustainability efforts? What impact do students have on sustainability advancements? Answer in the comments, below.

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