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New council will coordinate our sustainability efforts

The Sustainability Council will provide oversight and direction, coordinate activity and recommend policy.

Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. (From “Our Common Future: The Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development,” also known as the Brundtland Commission report.)

At UofL, an extraordinary amount of activity has been going on in the area of sustainability. Groups are implementing or planning everything from “green” purchasing policies to buying locally produced food, and energy audits to recycling programs.

The Green Budget Rescue Team, largely comprised of folks from Arts and Sciences, has presented a proposal to manage our budget woes through smarter personal and institutional energy practices. The Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center runs programs all over the state to help businesses run more efficiently. The Partnership for a Green City teams us with local schools and the city to manage our environmental resources better.

Both our purchasing department and food vendors have begun using more recycled and renewable materials, and many disciplines are offering specific classes that focus on various aspects of healthy environments. Our faculty are conducting research that will help develop renewable forms of energy and are developing pilot devices that will let our technology operate more efficiently and save our land and waterways.

We’re doing a lot, but we can, and will, do more.

One of the goals of our new strategic plan is to be “creative and responsible stewards” of our resources. That includes making a commitment to sustainability and efficiency — a commitment so important to us that we will track our progress according to standards from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

Because we work best when we work together, I have formed the Sustainability Council to help pull together our efforts and to keep the campus community informed of everything that’s happening. The council also will help us move into a leadership position in the sustainability area.

Among other things, the council will:

  • Oversee the work of three subcommittees (Education and Research, Operations, and Administration and Finance) on sustainability initiatives
  • Develop and review policies to recommend for implementation to President Ramsey and me
  • Set metrics and provide oversight to measure progress using the categories in the AASHE Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System and in other important areas
  • Create new subgroups or committees, if needed, to move forward agendas
  • Serve as a clearinghouse for university activities related to sustainable practices
  • Encourage faculty, staff and students to become involved in our efforts
  • Work with the Office of Communications and Marketing to publicize internally and externally what we’re doing

I’m sure more tasks will emerge, but you can see from these examples that the main purpose of the council is to coordinate and lead our activities and create excitement for creative thinking and engagement in this important area.

The council has its work cut out, but all of our ideas and creativity will be needed to keep these initiatives going forward and for us to reach our goal to be a national leader in sustainability and efficiency.

Related Links
Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education
UofL energy audit could save $33 million

Sustainability Subcommittees

Education and Research Subcommittee
This subcommittee will look at instituting sustainability practices in co-curricular education, curriculum, faculty and staff incentives, student outreach programs and orientation and behavior change programs. It will conduct an inventory of research and research expenditures, faculty involvement in sustainability research and incentives for involvement.

Operations Subcommittee
This subcommittee will explore how we can manage our campus environment and facilities more effectively. It will focus on buildings and grounds, dining services, energy and climate, materials, recycling and waste minimization, purchasing and transportation.

Administration and Finance Subcommittee
This subcommittee will look at our investment policies, planning processes, infrastructure, community commitments, outreach, diversity initiatives, human resources policies and practices.

Sustainability Council Members
Chair: Barbara Burns, psychology, College of Arts and Sciences
Avery Kolers, philosophy, College of Arts and Sciences
Nat Irvin, management, College of Business
Tony Arnold, School of Law
Ade Troutman, School of Public Health and Information Sciences
David Simpson, urban and public affairs, College of Arts and Sciences
Teddie Phillipson Mower, teaching and learning, College of Education and Human Development
Joy Hart, communication, College of Arts and Sciences
Keith Inman, University Advancement
Larry Owsley, Business Affairs
Mike Mardis, Student Affairs
Mike Curtin, Finance
Melissa Laning, Faculty Senate
Brent Fryrear, Staff Senate and Partnership for a Green City
Russ Barnett, Kentucky Institute for the Environment and Sustainable Development, Office of the Executive Vice President for Research
Cam Metcalf, Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center, Speed School of Engineering
Student Government Association representative (to be named)
Non-Student Government Association representative (to be named)

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