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COR members discuss future ‘green’ initiatives

John Cameron | Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Student members focused on “going green” at Notre Dame during the Council of Representatives’ (COR) Tuesday meeting.

Student body president Pat McCormick sought feedback from council members following last week’s Student Senate meeting when Heather Christopherson spoke on the issue.

“[Christopherson] gave a presentation about the University’s comprehensive sustainability strategy, which includes a carbon footprint reduction,” McCormick said. “They haven’t specifically decided on what that reduction would look like yet, but our hope, and what we advocated for in the resolution that passed unanimously, is to get on a trajectory to reduce our carbon footprint by 70 percent of the 2005 levels by 2050.”

McCormick said the goal level was based upon a review of the campus energy usage by a third-party consultant.

Students, he said, would be central to achieving the reduction goal.

“There is something historic about this because Notre Dame hasn’t publicly committed yet, and we’re right on the verge with student support of really making this happen,” he said.

Sophomore class council president Kevin Doherty said water waste on campus is especially common.

“I hear a lot of people complaining, myself included, about how our sprinkler system spends just as much time watering our sidewalks as our grass,” Doherty said.

McCormick agreed water waste should be addressed, but said it was not likely to be the immediate focus of the strategy.

“That’s a perennial problem … Our hope is the sustainability strategy, when it’s implemented, will also include ways of trying to bring down water waste,” McCormick said. “Water as a whole will require a separate strategy by the University. The sustainability strategy now only focuses on diversifying our energy portfolio and things like real-time metering in the halls, HVAC, LED lighting — those sorts of things.”

McCormick praised the University for setting realistic goals for energy reduction on campus.

“The University has been working extremely hard to ensure that the reduction [it is] calling for is something we can actually achieve,” he said. “[Notre Dame] has been really good about making sure we have the means to get that reduction.”

As student government tries to contribute to these energy goals, McCormick said he wanted to increase collaboration with student clubs, especially GreeND and other environmental clubs.

“One of the things we wanted to do this year is to really involve club leaders as well in the advocacy that student government does,” he said. “That way it’s not just student government saying we speak for all students, but that student government is serving as a catalyst.”