March 5, 2004 Feature
Council Promotes Greening of Utah State
Natural resources student Scott Shine has been
trekking from classroom to classroom with Power Point slides,
on a modern-day mission. His presentation promotes the greening
of Utah State University.
"We're trying to help students recognize we're part of
the natural world," he said. He would like to see sustainability
issues incorporated throughout Utah State's curriculum. He's
not alone in his enthusiasm. Utah State students, through ASUSU,
have spearheaded Utah State's membership in the National Wildlife
Federation's Campus Ecology Program, a program that promotes
sustainability efforts on college campuses.
President Kermit L. Hall wants to tap into a bit of that student
enthusiasm, and so he's appointed Shine to the newly formed
Students bring a lot of enthusiasm to the table, Hall said.
"We can use student enthusiasm for sustainability as our
guide to conduct," he said. "After all, they'll be
the next generation to inherit the challenges and opportunities
of sustaining our natural world and our economy."
The new council has been charged with the task of carrying
sustainability efforts through the next phase.
"We need to consistently raise the issue of sustainability,"
Hall said. "We need measures and benchmarks, so we can
bring people together around common goals."
The Sustainability Council is composed of representatives from
the student community, the academic community and the administration,
and hopes to find common ground somewhere in the middle of the
diversity of opinions.
As Co-chair Fee Busby put it, "We don't want to get bogged
down in extremes from either side. We want to work from the
who is dean of the College of Natural Resources, co-chairs the
council alongside political science professor and department
head Randy Simmons.
"We want input from the campus community," Simmons
said. "We want to listen and gain ideas. Ideally, we will
be nonpartisan and nonpolitical."
Simmons and others on the council believe that a campus audit
is the first priority.
"We need to determine where we are being responsible,
and where we're not," said council member and Facilities
Planning Director Brent Windley. "We need a baseline estimate.
What can we do, what's been done, and how can we improve on
The council will develop an appropriate matrix to assess performance,
and incorporate it into campus master planning. "Best practices"
will be evaluated, benchmarks will be recommended and performance
assessments will be developed. An annual report will be published
and a Web site developed. The audit and recommendations will
be included in the January 2005 State of the University address.
Council members David Anderson, Cathy Hartman, Edward Heath,
Mac McKee, Jeanette Norton, Jennifer Peeples, Scott Shine and
Brent Windley want to begin by looking at three primary areas:
Land and Water; Energy and Air Quality;
and Solid and Hazardous Waste. They hope to
focus on both operations and education.
The council is not without challenges. "Budget realities
are the 800-pound gorilla in each meeting," Simmons said.
"We need to be financially realistic."
The council will capitalize on gains made in recent years,
as Utah State switched from coal-fired to gas-powered electricity,
realized gains in energy efficiency, began emissions testing
on university cars, moved to spot treatment with pesticides,
and created more desert-friendly landscaping.
The council is also doing its homework. A lot of homework,
as it turns out. "We want to look for sister universities
that we can compare ourselves to, in order to see what we're
doing well and where we can improve," Peeples said.
Windley believes that people are the key to making it all work.
"It's not just a natural resource equation. We must also
include the people, the community."
This is a long-term enterprise, Hall said. "We are laying
the foundation. Our sustainability effort requires intellectual
integrity, respect for each other, independence and authority.
This council will provide leadership on campus.
"Academics will always comes first at Utah State, but
the question is: How we can make sustainability central to our
purpose without neglecting our central mission? Being efficient
means being a good friend to our environment and our economy,"
The Sustainability Council welcomes your feedback, suggestions
and comments. Contact Simmons at email@example.com.
Writer: Nadene Steinhoff, 797-1429, firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact: Randy Simmons, 797-1310, email@example.com
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