I’ve been at this job for nearly six years now and in that time, we’ve accomplished a great deal as a campus with respect to sustainability. There is much we can hang our hats on.
- Signed the Presidents’ Climate Commitment
- Created a Campus Sustainability & Climate Action Plan
- Set up a green revolving loan fund, the Green Hill Fund for energy-efficiency
- Invested over $2 million in energy and water conservation projects
- Stopped burning coal at our central heating plant
- Created a campus community garden
- Constructed a new environmentally-friendly cabin at the Homestead
- Renovated and built four LEED buildings
- Implemented composting in our dining facilities and at the senior apartments
- Changed printing processes and equipment to reduce paper use
- Established a green office certification program
- Developed the Sustainability Fellows program
- Switched to Bon Appetit as our dining service provider
On top of all these, individual offices and departments have implemented new strategies and changed processes to address campus sustainability in meaningful and interesting ways.
On the surface, we’re humming along as we address the sustainable future of Denison. What get’s at me, though, is that if we look under the hood, things may not be what the seem.
Take the list I just shared with you - not everyone is aware of what we are doing and what we have done. Some of that falls squarely on my shoulders, it’s my job to communicate and inform the campus community. In these last six years, I’ve found that task to be increasingly more challenging. How best do I reach my audience? Email? Posters? Facebook? Twitter? Meetings and forums?
I’ve tried all of these with limited success. Perhaps I’m doing it all wrong or perhaps, sustainability really isn’t that important to the community.
I get it, I really do - part of what makes this campus so incredible is that there is a lot going on. From performances, to lectures, to films, to coursework - we’re all engaged in things that are important to us. Some stuff just falls through the cracks and off our radar - it has to as we each have limits to what we can do. So where does that leave sustainability?
As I look in trash bins and see recyclable items like bottles, cans, and paper, I wonder if we care or if we really just don’t know what to do. When our compost has silverware mixed in it, was it a simple mistake? When we leave classrooms, offices, and dorm rooms with the lights on did we just forget to turn them off?
I believe that we are a community that does care; that we collectively place value in doing the little things to make a difference that benefits the greater good. We’re not really apathetic towards sustainability, but rather, we’re unaware of how best to engage. I welcome your thoughts and comments on this topic.