New head of U’s sustainibility up to the task

By Michael McFall, News Editor

Myron Willson has a lot on his plate as the new head of the Office of Sustainability.
The U chose Willson, a registered architect and adjunct architecture professor, to replace Craig Forster, who died last December while hiking in Zion National Park. The former head of the office lost his footing on a cliff and fell. Since assuming his position July 8, replacing interim director Cory Higgins, Willson has been busy catching up to speed on the U’s progress in sustainability, and its options to become even greener.
“I knew ahead of time, but found out more when I got here, that there’s already a lot of sustainability efforts going on in different departments,” he said. “All the pieces are already here, in place, and we’re here to bring them altogether.”
Willson hasn’t wasted any time in figuring out what projects he wants to see into fruition:
Every new building should be required to receive the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification during the planning of its construction.
Combine research from different departments who haven’t been as involved in the sustainability initiatives, such as business and biology, into the conversation.
And hire a sustainability initiative coordinator to dole out the Sustainable Campus Initiative student fee money, a $2.50 fee the previous student government administration instated to fund any proposed sustainability projects.
So far, Willson said there haven’t been any official proposals put on their desk &- the previous student government administration promised they’d heard several ideas when pitching the new student fee &- since the coordinator to handle them hasn’t been chosen. Willson expects to have an official hire, who could come from outside the U, by September or early October.
As for the current student government, their sustainability effort will take longer than that. Willson has had an initial talk with Associated Students of the University of Utah President Tayler Clough’s administration about their plan to move classes from unsustainable buildings into LEED-certified buildings by next summer semester.
“There are obstacles to that,” he said, ones that Clough’s government has stumbled upon over the course of the summer. Aside from classrooms, if there’s still a handful of used or occupied faculty offices or labs, then the entire building still needs to run. The older buildings can’t be partially shutdown, Willson said.
Accomplishing Clough’s dream is going to take a lot of coordination with several departments around campus, but Willson’s up to the task of making that happen.
“I love working on this,” Willson said. He said this job is more or less what he used to do at the architecture firm, only on steroids.
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