Renewable Energy & Sustainability at WITC
What's the Buzz
It passes with barely a sound. Yet the Columbia ParCar MEGA Van is causing a buzz on Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College’s Rice Lake campus. This completely electric vehicle has revolutionized day-to-day operations and helped the college lessen its footprint on the environment.
With a range of up to 50 miles between recharging and a top speed of 25 mph, the MEGA Van has enabled improved efficiency in completing many daily tasks around campus. Since the college has only had the MEGA Van in service for a few months, the total potential for the vehicle is still in the discovery stage.
Online and Off Paper
WITC recently created a new student orientation available completely online. The purpose was not to replace location-based orientations, but to provide equal access to online students and students who were unable to attend in person. This new online orientation venue has helped in WITC’s green efforts as well. Debra R. King, dean of students, was part of the team who helped design the online orientation option.
“Because of the availability of the online new student orientation, we are able to eliminate the folder and handouts that previously were distributed in person and now direct students to view these materials online,” King says. “This reduction of paper is a complement to the electronic storage of records Student Services converted to in 2008. WITC continues to strive to provide excellent services to students, while creating as small a carbon footprint as possible.”
Software Makes Strong Statement
Shane Evenson, WITC registrar, has been leading the charge in moving WITC in a “paperless” direction. The acquisition of the ImageNow software is helping turn a mountain of paper records into a safe and user-friendly digital format.
“ImageNow is the college’s imaging and document management software that allows users to scan or capture documents in their native format and link them automatically at scan time or manually in a single-click process,” Evenson explains. “Based upon the needs and business processes established by each department, documents can be routed (college-wide) automatically or manually through a process called workflow. To date, ImageNow has been implemented in human resources, financial aid, student records and credit for prior learning.”
Additional benefits of ImageNow include instant and secure document access, improved customer service and increased physical storage space. This software has proven to be so effective, that additional departments that collect large amounts of data on hard copy will soon have the software implemented into their storage and retrieval process.
“Our goal is to make WITC as paperless as possible; eliminating the need of manual filing and improving document access,” Evenson says.
Count Me Green
The many efforts of WITC’s Green Teams have also been recognized outside of the college.
“Our Green Team was instrumental with the Campus receiving the ‘Count Me Green’ Award from Douglas County, this past year,” says Dr. Charles Glazman, Superior Green Team captain. “This award is given to local businesses who have demonstrated a commitment to energy conservation, energy efficiency and sustainability. Our campus Green Team is leading the way toward these goals.”
Cleaning with ionized water is one way the Superior campus has reduced their carbon footprint. Ionized water is created by utilizing water that is first infused with oxygen. The oxygenated water then flows through a cell where an electric current is applied.
“By using ionized water to scrub and clean floors we eliminate the need for chemicals,” explains Pete Gamache, WITC-Superior facility maintenance supervisor. “It’s just water in and water out, with no chemicals going down the drains. I’m very impressed with the results.”
Just like ripples in a pond, embracing the green life as a college has the potential to make a difference as it spreads out into the surrounding communities.
“WITC is striving to integrate sustainability into our programs while ‘walking the talk’ in how we operate the college and campuses,” says Dr. Ted May, academic dean and co-chair of the Renewable Energy and Sustainability committee. “We believe it is the best thing for the present and future economy, and being responsible to our taxpayers.”