RALEIGH — Discarded bottles and construction debris floated on the clear waters of Raleigh Lake at N.C. State Universitys Centennial Campus Friday all in the name of environmental consciousness.
Bottles, plastic paint buckets and discarded wood became construction materials as three teams of students built and raced rafts made from recyclables in the campuss Reusable Regatta competition. A crowd of about 60 students, faculty and staff cheered from the shoreline during the race, part of a campuswide Sustainability Day.
Its a completely unique event, said Megan Cain, program specialist for the universitys sustainability office. Sometimes its hard to reach people, and it brings people out who might not have been interested in sustainability.
This is the first time Sustainability Day has included the regatta, which was started by N.C. State Park Scholars and previously held in the spring, Cain said. Campus sustainability groups set up booths near the lake to provide those who attend with environment-focused information and giveaways.
Wyatt Sanders, a junior plant biology major, and teammate Vann Fussell, a junior physics major, out-paddled their competition aboard a raft made of plastic bottles bundled into trash bags and taped together into cylinders. The pair took home two solar-powered backpacks that work as portable charging stations for small electronics.
It was fun; everyone had a great time, Sanders said. We designed a good boat, and we did well.
Besides the raft race, the school also used Friday to celebrate several new electric car-charging stations that came into operation this August. People could test-drive electric cars, including a Chevy Volt, Nissan LEAF and Mitsubishi MiEF, said Tracy Dixon, sustainability office director.
What were working for is a culture change on campus, Dixon said. There seemed to be a lot of interest today.
Dixon said the school has halved its water use since 2002 and is constructing a co-generation power plant, which will reduce campus greenhouse gas emissions by 8 percent by using heat released in electricity production to create steam that will heat buildings.
Events such as Sustainability Day are central to involving more members of the campus community in an environmental mission, Dixon said. And its working, said Robert Davis, a scheduling officer in the microbiology department and vice chairman for the Staff Senate, who came out to watch the regatta.
Ive learned so much more, and Ive changed a lot of my habits as a result of being around people with such energy, Davis said, explaining that he used to leave his cellphone charger plugged in before he realized how much energy it wastes.