John Brown University of Siloam Springs, Arkansas is one of the first colleges in the nation to become a zero-landfill campus. The school, which borders Oklahoma, has started its environmental initiatives in 2000 and has cut energy costs by 14%.  Since then, they have instituted a variety of ways to save money and drastically reduce waste.

All aspects of the school have been subject to ecofriendly changes and it has really been adding up. The University saves $5,000 a year alone by switching to recycled trash bags. Grease from the various kitchens is converted into biodiesel, which fuels the lawnmowers and other machinery throughout the campus. Some improvements such as cleaning products that they use cost about the same but are no harm the environment.

Photo courtesy of John Brown UniversityOne of major factors in a sustainable school is reducing the consumption of energy. The heating and cooling of the campus is connected to a computerized system which micromanages every building and room at the University. In 2012, the electric costs were $25,000 less but as the system improves savings can are estimated to be doubled that. The energy savings have continued even as the campus has added 300.000 square feet of new buildings.

Recently, John Brown University spent $60,000 to enable the school to produce zero waste. This paid for trash compactors and recycling bins that fill the campus. All of the waste produced is diverted from landfills to recycling centers and non-emission incinerators. The University has already saved $40,000 in waste removal costs that would normally be paid to the city. The project has already paid for itself and the school plans on continue saving money especially as methods improves.

It is truly amazing that so many little efforts can add up to be big savings. John Brown University does not seem satisfied with producing zero waste and is constantly improving its methods and creating new ones.  Hopefully with all the savings that the school is getting, they will be able to parley that into savings for students on tuition.John Brown University has not been able to become the first waste free campus in Arkansas without some help. They have teamed up with a variety of organization that can use or properly dispose their waste. Even local hogs benefit from the program, which receives all of the waste from the school’s dining halls.