Workshop engages sustainable minds

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Michael Alonzo, the Facilities Management and Services' supervisor of grounds and landscape services, explains water conservation plans as Marie Patterson, the department's assistant manager of utilities and sustainability, writes down students' ideas. Photo credit: Yessenia Funes


The Campus Sustainability Committee has high aims for 2020.

The committee showcased its long-term campus-wide plan to improve sustainability and garnered student feedback at the This Way to Sustainability Conference Thursday in the Bell Memorial Union.

Students split into five groups and provided the committee with ideas geared toward specific areas: water and energy, food services, transportation and waste and recycling.

“These groups have been doing most of the work as far as developing the plan components in different areas and it’s all going back to the sustainability committee who is steering the whole process,” said Fletcher Alexander, the sustainability coordinator for the Institute for Sustainable Development.

The campus hopes to decrease its water and energy consumption 30 percent by 2020, said Marie Patterson, the assistant manager of utilities and sustainability for Facilities Management and Services.

The campus can conserve water through water-wise landscaping, Patterson said.

Some students recommended that dorms compete in water conservation. Others mentioned creating a water treatment plant on campus. Water conservation awareness wasn’t forgotten either.

As for food, the committee hopes that 20 percent of its food is local, fair and ecologically sound by 2020, said Eli Goodsell, the Associated Students sustainability coordinator.

While this costs the campus more money, the campus expects to make more money by offering better products, Goodsell said.

Single-occupant vehicles emit loads of carbon dioxide, so the University Police Department is tackling this issue by promoting alternative transportation like carpooling or non-motorized commutes—or bikes, said University Police Chief Robyn Hearne.

Water and recycling’s list was short and sweet. By 2020, the committee hopes to reduce solid waste generated by each person on campus per day by 75 percent, said Dale Wymore, who leads this initiative.

Yessenia Funes can be reached at newseditor@theorion.com or @yessfun on Twitter.