Face CASE32 Face

Honda Technical College Kansai

Deputy Director Hiroshi Saotome expressed a commitment to protecting the beauty of the natural environment

Deputy Director Hiroshi Saotome expressed a commitment to protecting the beauty of the natural environment

Left: Wooded landscape behind the school  Right: Students volunteering in a neighborhood cleanup

Left: Wooded landscape behind the school Right: Students volunteering in a neighborhood cleanup

Solar panels cover the roof of a school building
Solar power monitor displays electricity consumption in real time

Engineers need environmental awareness to succeed in the global marketplace.

 "Our mission is to develop people. We teach students practical skills, but we also challenge them expand their capacity as human beings," said Deputy Director Hiroshi Saotome.
  While two of the school's educational objectives, to teach practical skills and to foster good manners, are learned in the classroom, a desire and motivation to contribute to society is cultivated through environmental activities.
 "A high level of environmental awareness is becoming increasingly important for meeting the expectations that society has of engineers today. One of our first priorities when the school year begins is to hold an environmental seminar for first-year students, taught by associates from the Honda Environment & Safety Planning Office. We strive for environmental stewardship in school activities as well. Our Advanced Automobile Maintenance program includes an environmental studies curriculum, so students are very aware of environmental issues."
 In 2002, the school obtained "green dealer" certification so it can better prepare students for work at Honda green dealers. The Honda green dealer program is an independent program that recognizes Honda dealers for their contribution to environmental conservation and for building positive relationships with customers and local communities through sales and service activities. Honda Technical College Kansai issued an environmental declaration outlining the requirements for certification, including the implementation of specific environmental activities, such as waste separation, environmental sanitation, establishment and operation of an environmental committee, and educational and awareness-raising activities for students. More recently, the school even obtained the highest level of certification under this program.
 Honda Technical College Kansai is also actively working to reduce its energy use. The fourth building on campus, built in 2011, is an energy efficient, eco-friendly structure fitted with everything from solar panels to human-sensing LED lights to a cogeneration HVAC system.
 "A video screen installed at a prominent location in the building shows electricity use, so awareness of energy conservation is also very high. Honda initiatives like these help convey to the students the importance of environmental awareness," said Saotome.
 He then emphasized the importance of a rich natural setting in cultivating that awareness.
 "Behind the school is a large wooded area with a natural stream where you can see some amazing things that no longer exist in most urban areas. For instance, fireflies gather here every summer. We’d like to keep this natural setting alive for as long as possible."
 As part of the school's community involvement program, students and faculty also volunteer in city cleanups.
 "Twice a year we clean the area from the school road, which runs along the highway, to a nearby park. We chat with local residents while we work. At the last cleanup, we noticed an unusually large number of plastic bottles and cigarette butts. Picking up the litter gave students an opportunity to think about the importance of proper etiquette."
 The trash they collected was enough to fill the bed of a small truck. The cleanup was a rewarding experience, giving participating students and faculty a sense of achievement and a chance to connect with local residents.

Naoya Idosaka, Assistant Manager, General Administration Section, Student Life Department, Kansai Campus Environment Office. Idosaka is also the architect of the project to separate waste into 21 categories

Naoya Idosaka, Assistant Manager, General Administration Section, Student Life Department, Kansai Campus Environment Office. Idosaka is also the architect of the project to separate waste into 21 categories

Keisuke Hase, Chairman of the Cleanup Committee and third-year student in the Advanced Automobile Maintenance program

Keisuke Hase, Chairman of the Cleanup Committee and third-year student in the Advanced Automobile Maintenance program

Yuta Ishikawa, Secretary of the Cleanup Committee and third-year student in the Advanced Automobile Maintenance program

Yuta Ishikawa, Secretary of the Cleanup Committee and third-year student in the Advanced Automobile Maintenance program

Increasing recycling to 21 categories cuts waste by 60%

 Among the school's many initiatives aimed at maintaining a high level of environmental awareness, the most recent was a project to increase the number of recycling categories to 21. Faculty and staff talked with the student Cleanup Committee to review current waste management methods and see if they could institute a more detailed classification system that ensured the effective use of resources through the recycling of all still-usable materials. What was the impetus for such a project? Naoya Idosaka, Assistant Manager of the General Administration Section in the Student Life Department, explained.
  "Being a school accountant, I was reviewing waste and energy expenditures and found that expenditures for "other" industrial waste had increased by around 60% from 2011 to 2012. This amount of increase seemed strange, so I called the recycling company. What I found out was that recyclable waste and materials that could potentially be recycled if broken down a little were all being thrown out together under the name 'industrial waste.' "
  From there, Idosaka and the recycling company visited the sources of various waste streams to observe how waste was being separated. Starting from the existing 15 categories, they worked out a way to separate the most common types of waste, such as aluminum, ferrous metals, plastics, and film plastic, into their own categories. Metals, which were previously lumped together, were divided into ferrous metals, electrical wires, and other metals, with electrical wires being further subdivided into clean and dirty wires. Film plastic was also subdivided into clean plastic and plastic that had been spattered with paint or other material. Such thorough classification resulted in 21 categories for separation, which is the system currently being used by the college. The volume of organic waste from the school cafeteria was also reduced dramatically by shredding it using a waste disposal unit. This wave of activity prompted students to start actively practicing recycling in their school projects. Separation itself also played an important role in increasing the efficiency of downstream processes, which in turn significantly reduced the amount of waste generated in the first place.
  Once the system was in place, the school urged students to participate in waste separation as a way of improving the academic environment.
  "We encouraged waste separation by emphasizing the fact that recycling leads to more effective use of resources, that careful separation increases the efficiency of downstream processes for treating waste, and that separation is a necessary skill for working in the real world," said Idosaka.
 Based on Idosaka’s idea that, "most importantly, the students should learn how to do it themselves," students in the Cleanup Committee are now assigned a central role in waste separation.
  "The committee has 30 members, two from each class. Each member goes over the division of duties during daily cleanup, provides guidance on waste separation, and performs a final overall check," explained Committee Chairman Keisuke Hase, a third-year student in the Advanced Automobile Maintenance program.
 While life at the school has presented no serious issues, since all students seem to understand how to separate their trash every day, the annual school festival was a different matter.
 "For the festival, we devised waste separation strategies with the teachers beforehand so we would be fully prepared for the event," said Hase. "But come the day of the festival, we were inundated with food waste and paper plates from the booths, which normally we don't deal with. Separating that trash was a pain."
 For Yuta Ishikawa, Cleanup Committee member and third-year student in the Advanced Automobile Maintenance program, the festival left behind feelings of regret.
 "How to separate the trash didn't get through to the students on the day of the festival, so we ended up having to spread out the trash and separate it ourselves. We should have made the trash bins easier to understand, or distributed information on separation—or something. This was my first try at the school festival, and I made some mistakes. Next year I'll try to learn from this experience and do things more efficiently."
  "Nothing makes me happier than to see the Cleanup Committee take a leading role in cleaning activities and do their jobs with awareness, whether its daily cleanups or events like the school festival," said Idosaka. "Thanks to them, it looks like we'll reduce 'other' industrial waste this year by 60% compared to last year. I want to continue supporting the students so more of them can learn about the connection between recycling and the effective use of limited resources."

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