Students push for sustainable campus

By By Lindsey Herman

By Lindsey Herman

From recycling and serving organic or local foods to just shutting off the lights when leaving an empty room, U students are speaking out in an effort to preserve the environment.

Sustainability, or the search for balance between the economy, society and environment, was the topic of a forum held for students and faculty in the Union on Monday afternoon.

During his keynote address, David Chapman–senior vice president for academic affairs and professor of geology and geophysics–described sustainability as connecting the here and now with future generations. He said the U is a “terrific place to work” and that the campus is “a people of entrepreneurs and innovators.”

Chapman has pledged to work with the Sustainable Environments and Ecological Design group in its efforts to establish campus-wide communication, to fund a full-time staff position to manage sustainability issues and to set up a new track in the professional science department dedicated to sustainability.

“I will work with them in whatever capacity I have to get a sustainability effort off the ground,” Chapman said.

SEED volunteers said sustainability efforts will be beneficial to students by increasing energy efficiency and thereby preventing tuition and student fee increases.

Last year, the U’s utility bills were trimmed by $1.2 million by focusing on tightening after-hours control of heating and cooling systems and lighting equipment.

SEED also looks to strengthen the U’s recycling program to be able to compete with Brigham Young University, which saves $50,000 a year in its cafeteria by recycling food waste and using it on campus as fertilizer.

SEED Director Lindsay Clark, a senior in French and environmental studies, and other volunteers said the amount of progress toward sustainability has been difficult because of the lack of communication between efforts among departments and the campus as a whole.

Monday’s forum was the second of a series of SEED forums, which began in November, set up to discuss with students and faculty what U sustainability means and how to unite existing efforts.

“Students are working alongside administration, faculty and staff in a way that has never really happened before,” Clark said. “I think it will be worth it to push for a sustainability center at the U because it will give so much back to the campus community.”

Lennie Mahler

David Chapman speaks about conserving energy and keeping the environment clean at a forum for the Sustainable Environments and Ecological Design student group in the Union East Panorama Room on Monday.