April 19, 2010.
Each year the President's Office puts aside moneyto be used toward environmental sustainability. Thisyear the Student Government Association chose toinstall solar panels. Above: Students lounge on thegrass near the solar panels.
Be nice to your Mother
Environmental groups take on Earth Week
By PAIGE OSBURN
Photo courtesy of Brianna Kelly
Fun Facts from the “DePaul University CarbonFootprint and Sustainability Assessment”! (Prepared byBlue Planet Energy Group—February 26, 2010)
(20,000,000 cubicfeet) of natural gas in 2009 (equivalent to one ton of coal)
Burned an average of
between 2001 and2009
10,000 metric tons of CO2
Released an average of
9,688 metric tons of CO2
between2001 and 2009
56 million kilowatts of electricity
in 2009(including lighting, air handling, air conditioning, heating,and “various plug loads ranging from sophisticated laboratoryequipment to multiple student uses in dormitories”)
Consumed an average of
56.11 million kilowatts
between2001 and 2009
Consumed just over
of gasoline in 2009(between Facility Operations and Public Safety)
metric tons of CO2
through travelassociated with DePaul athletics (both via land and air— although air travel “generated two to three times more CO2 per participant-mile than land transportation”)
McGowen II Science Center, with its LEED Gold designation
and energy efcient design, consumes
less electricalenergy and
less natural gas than other DePaul buildings.
Assuming DePaul continues with pre-2001 practices, our carbon footprint will hit
metric tons of CO2 by 2025.But, if we continue with our post-2001 sustainable policies— and implement the strategies proposed by the task force— we’re expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by
.This would result in a carbon footprint
half the size.
the better the rating, the less DePaulneeds to focus its initiatives in that area.The system itself is called SustainabilityTracking, Assessment and Rating Systemand was developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.“I’m an auditor,” said Dhanda. “I giveyou the math.”Before any of the plan falls into place,SITF wants to sit down with DePaul at largeand “hash things out.”“My thing is just to foster a University-wide conversation,” said Montgomery.“We tend to be in silos—Liberal Arts andSciences in a silo, Law in a silo, Commerce,Business. Sustainability can be a magnet that pulls us out of our silos. Who’s doing thingsabout this? Who wants to do things? This isactually a real ground swell—if my inbox isany indication.”While it has nine official members, SITFis the product of all walks of life—from theCollege of Commerce to Facility Operations,from the SGA to public relations.Dr. J. Harry Wray, a political science professor who has also been instrumental ingetting the word out about upcoming EarthWeek activities, sums it up best.“I also happen to be a human being,”he said. “Or, let me be more clear: I havechildren. I think anyone who has childrenshould be interested in the direction thatwe’re heading in.” No one in the task force predicts this will be easy.“It’s hard to find out how many peopleare interested,” said Barbara Willard, anassociate professor of communications anda member of the task force. “Especially ina campus of this size. We’ve already hostedmore meetings than any committee I’ve ever belonged to and we’ve been talking since…what, spring 2009?”“It’s a pretty intense goal,” saidMontgomery. “I think that reflects my personality. What we’re trying to do ismerge disparate ideas about sustainability— about what sustainability even is. I’m justhoping it doesn’t end up like the health caredebate.”SITF is hoping to begin running open-forum workshops in May. Students withan interest in joining a workgroup—tohelp study sustainability in Curriculum,Operations, Research or (community)Engagement—should attend that section’sorientation (dates pending). In the meantime,task force members encourage students tocontact any of them with names, contact infoand any ideas about where the task force cango from here.Most people don’t think about plastic spoons.Then there are AnthonyAlfano and Maggie Nelson whoare the co-creators and two-headed chair of the StudentGovernment Association (SGA)-driven Environmental ConcernsCommittee (ECC). They have both used their positions in SGAto pursue a different passion— environmental sustainability. AndEarth Week is just the beginning.“Earth Week is kind of our spearhead, the first roundof introducing this idea of sustainability to DePaul,” Nelsonsaid. “Our hope is to start thatconversation between students.There’s really never been this before, these big events reallytargeting sustainability,” she said.“This is a great chance to gettogether people from all over the board and say, ‘Hey, people aretalking
about this—you shouldtalk about it too.’”The list of upcoming eventsincludes Monday's Earth Fair (with booths from both localvendors and University groups)to Thursday’s EnvironmentalService Day (cleaning upcommunity parks) to nextMonday’s lecture and studentreception with world-renownedEcologist, David Orr.Environmental programs havealso joined forces with WorldCatholicism Week, hosting panel discussions with titles like“Integrity of Creation” (Friday)and “Charity in Truth and the New Face of Social Progress”
(Wednesday).“DePaul is a Vincentianinstitution; it fits into our mission, it should be our calling,”said Dr. Barbara Willard, amember of the SustainabilityInitiatives Task Force (SITF), anorganizer for Earth Week and aCommunications professor.“As a major private university,as one of the largest Catholicinstitutions in the country, as aninternational center in a major urban environment—we seeourselves as an ideal institute for functioning as an agent for realchange,” she said.The preparations for EarthWeek have spanned over a year and include events sponsored bythe ECC; the SITF; the Instituteof Nature and Culture and theCenter for World Catholicism andIntercultural Theology.“It’s the 40th anniversary of Earth Day,” Willard said. “It justseems like a prime time to get itout there, in a number of differentvenues. Make sustainability a part of every day at DePaul— across the curriculum, across thecommunity. What we’re reallyhoping to do is make it a bigger presence on DePaul than it’s ever been,” she said.This idea of cross-collegeinterest also strikes a chord with Nelson and Alfano.“Anthony’s a political sciencemajor and I’m communicationsstudies,” Nelson said. “We
aren’tscience students, and we can stillmake this happen. Sustainabilityis more than a science thing—it’san ethical, moral, sustainable wayof thinking.”Alfano agreed. “Sustainabilityreaches across all majors, programs, colleges,” he said. “Theinitiatives that the Universityis taking with LEED buildingsand the new master plan—it justshows that what we had 10, 50,100 years ago will not work even50 years from now. It’s realizingthat this one little thing that youdo affects that, which affectsthat, which affects that…it never stops. It just keeps going.”“When you throw a plasticspoon on the ground, it staysthere forever,” Nelson said. “It’srealizing that. It’s thinking aboutsomething that’s bigger thanyourself.”To find out more about EarthWeek events, go to http://las.depaul.edu/env/About/Events.
The Monsignor Andrew J. McGowanscience building received GoldLEED certification in September for its environmental and sustainabilityefforts.
Photo courtesy of Heidi Wigdahl
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