Private colleges in the state are launching voluntary environmental health and safety inspections.
The Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities — or WAICU — want to make sure they are up to the highest standards on environmental health and safety so they approached the Federal EPA and Wisconsin DNR to advance their green initiative.
"And we said we want to conduct audits ourselves at our own expense to make sure we're up to the very latest in the law and in the science."
WAICU president Dr. Rolf Wegenke says the colleges and universities are working with an EPA-certified consultant to conduct the self-audits. Wegenke says the entire audit process is recorded, video-taped, monitored and documented. He says, when doing the inspections, they could be looking for the obvious things — science lab — or it could be things you might never think of.
"For example, chalk on athletic fields can actually be caustic. The EPA has rules about how you store it and keep track of it and apply it and so on. … The chlorine for the swimming pool, the way you keep a log on maintenance of backup generators."
As part of the agreement, the schools must immediately correct any violations. After the initial audit, Wegenke says they'll do it again every three years. They hope to identify new issues as laws and science change; and they'll quickly remedy those issues to continuously improve environmental health and safety.
"It's just like a wellness program. You know the best thing you can do to stay healthy is not wait until you're sick and go to the doctor, you get your annual physical, exercise, eat well and all of that. It's the same thing with environmental health and safety."
The audits began this month and the goal is to inspect four colleges per semester.
The participating schools in this agreement include: Alverno College, Beloit College, Cardinal Stritch University, Carroll University, Carthage College, Concordia University, Edgewood College, Lakeland College, Marian University, Marquette University, Milwaukee School of Engineering, Mount Mary College, Northland College, Ripon College, St. Norbert College, and Silver Lake College.
WAICU was founded in 1961 and is the official organization of Wisconsin's 20 private colleges and universities and their 58,000 students.