Sustainability Initiatives Make Progress
Posted by Amanda Kelly on Thursday, March 29, 2012 at 11:10 AM PDT
As we prepare to celebrate Earth Day this month, it is a good time for us to reflect on Seattle University’s already strong commitment to sustainability while setting our sights on what we can do to tread even more lightly on the planet.
We have accomplished a great deal in the past few years. Seattle University’s buildings are now carbon neutral. We did it by improving the energy efficiency of our buildings, switching to a lower carbon fuel source and purchasing carbon offsets for our remaining emissions.
A year and a half ago, Seattle University became one of the first campuses in the nation to stop selling bottled water campus-wide. We also used the occasion to begin selling SU-branded stainless steel water bottles in our bookstore, with proceeds from the sales going to a clean water project in Haiti. The bottles have been incredibly popular, and so far, nearly $5,000 has been raised, providing 80,000 Haitians with safe water for a year. You can buy this water bottle from the SU Bookstore.
Our new William F. Eisiminger Fitness Center opened last fall as SU’s fourth LEED Gold-certified building, joining the Admissions & Alumni Building, Law School Annex and McGoldrick Learning Commons in earning this prestigious green building rating.
Nearly 60 percent of our waste is reused, recycled or composted—that’s a nine percent increase since 2009. We’ve added compostable to-go ware at our cafés and catered events, and we now have more than 200 compost bins on campus.
We subsidize our students’ transit passes, and we’ve recently added seven electric vehicles to our campus operations, making one-third of our fleet electric. This year we installed a fruit orchard on the east edge of our campus to grow blueberries as well as apple, pear and hazelnut trees. The plan is to engage our neighbors in the harvest and distribute much of what is picked to those in need.
Sustainability is increasingly being incorporated into Seattle University’s curriculum. Our Albers School of Business offers an MBA Specialization in Sustainability. With a $100,000 grant from Wells Fargo, the College of Arts and Sciences’ Environmental Studies program has created an off-campus urban farm to supply a local food bank and provide children with information about nutrition and healthy living.
We certainly have much to be proud of—and much that is yet to be done. In 2009, Seattle University deepened and formalized its commitment to environmental, social and economic sustainability by implementing a Climate Action Plan. We have pledged to make sustainability and climate change a more visible, dynamic component of our curricular and co-curricular programs. We have also set a goal of reducing our total greenhouse gas emissions 12 percent by 2020 and 51 percent by 2035, as well as share our knowledge and expertise on sustainability more widely. These goals are very bold, and yet given our track record on sustainability, they are also very achievable.
To learn more about Seattle University’s sustainability initiatives:
• Be a fan on Facebook
• Visit our web site
Karen Price, Campus Sustainability Manager