Mill Creek benefits from WSU Vancouver campus’ environmental practices

When it comes to living green, the design and construction of LEED certified buildings is just the beginning. To maintain environmentally sustainable recognition, WSU Vancouver complies with a variety of operational standards on a daily basis. These include LEED and Salmon Safe guidelines.

WSU Vancouver’s Science and Engineering building and Undergraduate building are certified “Salmon Safe.” This designation supports the buildings’ respective gold and silver LEED ratings and depends on storm water management, insect and weed control methods, and the use of green cleaning practices.

Because the WSU Vancouver campus slopes from west to east, water run-off ends up in Mill Creek.

“We want the water leaving WSU Vancouver to be clean or cleaner when it exits campus,” Martin said. “Therefore, we remove blackberries and weeds manually instead of using herbicides,” said James Martin II, director of facilities and operations for WSU Vancouver.

Landscape design also supports water quality. For example, the solid surfaces around the LEED buildings were constructed of individual pavers instead of concrete, so rain and snow can percolate through the surface. Drought-resistant plants were chosen so they would not require irrigation.

“We built a rain garden to capture and store the water runoff on the north side of the Undergraduate building,” Martin said. In addition, a large retaining pond is used to retain, filter and drain water before it leaves campus.

WSU works in partnership with Clark Public Utilities District to mitigate stream health in Mill Creek. Martin said small Coho salmon have been spotted in the creek, signs that the health of the waterway is improving.

Chemicals that could end up in the water are also carefully controlled. Only “certified green” cleaning products are used in LEED buildings. Martin said these products are biodegradable and are carefully measured and mixed at special “clean stations” in the maintenance closets of LEED buildings. This ensures that the dilution is consistent and safe.  These products are also used to clean 80 percent of the campus’ non-LEED buildings, and Martin foresees upgrading the entire campus to 100 percent green products in the near future.

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