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Group discusses sustainability strategy

Nicole Toczauer | Monday, February 13, 2012


Members of the Campus Life Council (CLC) discussed how to best meet goals set by the comprehensive Sustainability Strategy and 2030 Challenge in their meeting Monday. 

Student body president Pat McCormick said student government’s plan focuses on conserving resources, reducing emissions by 50 percent per gross square foot by 2030 and increasing awareness of the connection between sustainability and Notre Dame’s mission. 

“It is of note to recognize [University President] Fr. Jenkins for signing the St. Francis pledge [Nov. 30], which focuses on the adaption of poor populations and climate change,” McCormick said. “We want to go from setting these goals to implementing them, given their connections to Catholic teaching.”

Dr. Rachel Novick, education and outreach program manager for the Office of Sustainability, said the Green Summit V will be the next big event on campus to promote sustainability.

“This year’s theme is transportation and it will be held in Stepan Center so we can bring in electric and alternative fuel vehicles, as well as other exhibits,” she said. “It will be on [Feb. 29] over lunch.” 

Members of the CLC also discussed how sustainability practices in dorms and classroom buildings can work to reduce waste.

Sr. Mary Donnelly, rector of Pangborn Hall, said hydration stations located in dorms could lessen the number of plastic bottles used on campus.

“We use a lot of plastic water bottles because the water tastes terrible,” Donnelly said. “The hall president asked if we could get [a hydration station] to provide filtered water.”

Novick said the University Architect’s Office fully integrated this idea into its designs since it has begun renovating dorms. Four dorms have these stations now, she said.

“We need to move faster than that, but we need to find out how to fund it,” she said. “With each installation, it’s a couple thousand dollars. It’s especially a priority for DeBartolo Hall as a main classroom building.”

The other route to waste reduction in dorms includes recycling and purchasing energy star appliances, McCormick said. Donnelly said providing larger recycling bins would encourage more students to think about what they throw away.

“The recycle bin is smaller than the trash bin. Can it be flipped?” she said. “The visual cue would help.”

Novick said these and other concerns can be reported to the Office of Sustainability on its website.

“There are places on campus that need to be fixed, like rooms with lights but no switch, or a radiator that won’t turn off,” she said. “We find someone who can address it.”

Novick said the best way to solve the sustainability issue on campus is to change campus culture.

“Do you just walk away and leave lights on? We need to change it so that we say we prioritize this and will take the extra time,” she said.