Going green: U of L works toward sustainability

By on September 8, 2008

By Julia Yetter

Over the summer, the University of Louisville unveiled new sustainability initiatives meant to make the campus more environmentally friendly. According to President James Ramsey, it is up to higher education to take a leadership role and to continue to “raise the bar on what it means to be environmentally friendly.”?
Two major projects are in the works for achieving U of L’s green make-over.? The first of which involves the creation of the Sustainability Council which will be headed by Barbara Burns of the psychological and brain sciences department. According to Provost Shirley Willihnganz, the Council will act as a clearinghouse for U of L’s sustainable practices.
Some of the major tasks Dr. Burns anticipates include tracking and supporting the “green” initiatives, promoting connections among researchers and educators focused on sustainability, and advising Ramsey and Willihnganz on sustainability policies.?
The second major project involves a massive energy audit with Siemens Building Technologies that plans to eventually “reduce the University’s $13.8 million annual energy bill by 30 percent” according to Michael Azzara, a business development manager who works for Siemens. “We ought to be doing it whether we’re saving money or not,” said Ramsey, about the audit. “Being environmental stewards is the right thing to do.”
The university has also developed a number of smaller initiatives to reach its environmental goals, including implementing “green” purchasing policies: seeking local sources for food services, which the new food vendor, Sodexo, will help further.?The campus has also seen an increase in recycling programs in its dormitories.
Latassha Duarte, a sophomore psychology major, was complementary of the new recycling program at her dorm.?
“People don’t really mind separating their trash,” Duarte said. “Recycling is easy to do, and there are separate bins which help.”
Kelsey Stipp, a resident assistant at Kurz Hall, said that there are also two bikes available in her dorm for students to rent out with their student I.D.’s. ?Stipp said that this tactic, an effort to get students to use more environmentally-friendly modes of transportation, has been a big hit with her residents
“Everybody’s excited about [the bikes],” she said, adding that the environmental mania has seized U of L.
Despite the initial excitement, there are others in U of L’s community are quick to point out that the university has a lot of work to achieve any significant improvement.
“U of L is still a very long way from being a green campus,” said Prof. John Cumbler of the history department, who suggested that there are a number of areas in which the University can do better. Some examples he offered included the elimination of leaf blowers, and opening Shelby Campus to community gardens.?

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