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The Blue & Gray Press | February 22, 2018

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Sustainability council begins monthly meetings

BY CATE STACKHOUSE

The President’s Council on Sustainability (PCS) recently began their monthly meetings to discuss goals and problem areas regarding sustainability at the University of Mary Washington.

PCS helps shape sustainability goals and objectives at the University of Mary Washington. PCS was created in 2009, and its members include students, faculty and staff from both Fredericksburg and Stafford campuses.

The committee focuses on four action areas: Administration and Finance, Education and Research, Operation and Innovation and Awareness. Each action area has a list of goals and an action group is spear-headed by a PCS member.

The main goal of PCS is creating a five-year sustainability plan for UMW, but the council also makes suggestions for sustainability policy improvements and decisions about policy implementation on campus.

Committee members are required to participate in sustainability work and projects outside of the council, such as sustainability projects on campus. Even though UMW President Richard Hurley is not technically on the council, he participates in his own way.

“As part of the “Do One Thing” Campaign, I have started recycling at Brompton,” said Hurley.

Current projects include the UMW Green Housing for students that is one of the Living Learning Communities on campus. Another project is the UMW Bike Plan that aims to increase bicycle usage on campus.

In an effort to committ to sustainability on campus, some UMW sustainability practices include reducing generation of solid waste, encouraging the purchase of products that promote sustainability, conserving energy, conserving water and promoting alternative modes of transportation.

“‘Sustainability’ implies that the critical activities of an institution are ecologically sound, socially just and economically viable, and that they will continue to be so for future generations,” according to the UMW sustainability website.

UMW strives for sustainability in its everyday operations and recognizes that every action it takes concerning its mission and management impacts its future as much as it affects its present, according to the website.

In the past year, PCS made a lot of changes at Seacobeck dining hall to improve campus sustainability.

“UMW Dining is now offering students the “Choose to Reuse” program to cut back on the amount of plastic to-go containers being used,” said Evelyn Hartman, senior anthropology major and coordinator for PCS. “This fall, the sustainability office created the Green Room Certification for all students living on campus.  Minoring in Environmental Sustainability exposes me to new ways of thinking about sustainability and how to apply that to real world situations.”

Hurley believes that the new program is an improvement.

“The changes to Seacobeck have been a big success,” said President Hurley.

PCS also launched a pedestrian initiative that encourages walking rather than driving and helped create a program where student participants are working on a garden by the student apartments.

“The Ecology Club is currently invested in making the community garden a success,” said Hartman. “With our limited growing season and unhealthy soil over at the UMW Apartments, we are building a greenhouse out of two liter bottles in hopes of increasing our yields.”

The Ecology club has been collecting two liter bottles since the beginning of the summer, according to Hartman. Max Devilliers, Andrew Walz, Zakaria Kronemer and Hartman are local organizers trying to get students from UMW to Power Shift 2013 in Pittsburgh.

“In the past, the Ecology Club has also made an effort to get involved in national campaigns to steer our country towards renewable energy,” said Hartman.

Ongoing projects include the conversion of an electric UMW golf cart to solar power, development of a green fee on campus and implementation of numerous green events and projects on campus.