Environmental Sustainability Hot-Button Issue on Campus
By MOLLY HODGES
Environmental sustainability is an issue making its way to the forefront of the University of Mary Washington campus. The UMW community is working to improve sustainability on a personal, local and national level.
There are four areas of sustainability outlined by the UMW website: cultural, social, economic, and environmental.
In 2009, President Rick Hurley adopted sustainability practices and policies for the University. The President’s Council on Sustainability (PCS) was created as part of UMW’s Strategic Plan.
The PCS differs from other organizations on campus, as it is comprised of one-third faculty, one-third staff, and one-third students, according to PCS Co-Chair Melanie Szulczewski.
According to the UMW website, “The PCS is charged with the creation of a five-year plan and making recommendations on sustainability issues and policy, developing strategies for implementation of sustainability initiatives, and providing a cohesive public face for UMW sustainability efforts.”
UMW Facilities Services are making sustainable choices for the management of landscape and grounds on campus.
According to Director of Landscape and Grounds and member of the PCS, Joni Wilson, all new buildings on campus must qualify for at least a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) silver rating.
LEED certification is determined by several factors. For example, the way in which materials are recycled or reused during development or deconstruction.
As part of UMW’s Nutrient Management Plan, fertilizer is used sparingly and fertilizers containing phosphorus are never used.
According to Wilson, UMW took a sustainable step when designing the landscape for the new Anderson Center. All plant material is native to the area.
Additionally, the UMW website states that beginning in the 2011-2012 academic year, UMW will be implementing a new sustainability campaign. Called Do One Thing, the campaign calls on the UMW community to pledge to make one change that will improve their personal sustainability.
For example, Hurley has pledged to recycle at Brompton and to use organic cleaning solution on his boat.
Of Hurley and Vice President Rick Pearce, Szulczewski said, “they’ve been very supportive and encouraging and so I do think sustainability is going to be even more prevalent on campus and in our community.”
UMW students now have the option to minor in environmental sustainability. According to Szulczewski, more than 25 students have declared the minor.
While UMW strives to improve sustainability at the local level, members of the PCS and Ecology Club are also involved in a number of large-scale environmental projects. Some of the students have been active in demonstrations with the Keep the Ban organization and in protesting the Tar Sands Pipeline.
On Nov. 6, a group of 25 UMW faculty, staff, students, and alumni took part in the Tar Sands Pipeline Protest Rally in Washington, D.C. They were a part of 12,000 other activists, who at this event, joined hands to protest the Keystone XL pipeline and ended up encircling the White House nearly three times.
“We can’t stop Tar Sands production in Canada, but we can stop what happens here,” said Junior Samantha Corron, an Ecology Club officer and a member of the PSC.