Buena Vista University is doing more to reduce its impact on the environment. With the formation of a Sustainability Task Force and a membership in the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), the university is hoping to change how those on campus live and think with regards to the world around them.
“I think it is incredibly important to get these green initiatives going on campus because campuses tend to be leaders in trends around the country,” says Kayla Hartmann, a sophomore environmental science major from Albert Lea, Minn. “And if we can get things going really well here, maybe we can get things going in the local community, county, state, and eventually all over the country and the world.”
Working with several student groups, the task force has developed proposals to enhance environmental stewardship on the Storm Lake campus. Many of the ideas have been implemented, including new recycling bins in Estelle Siebens Science Center. Faculty, staff and students are also working on developing policies and data collection that will ultimately result in LEED certification for the Estelle Siebens Science Center.
“Currently, we are trying to emphasize recycling and educational directives that will help BVU students actively think about recycling their trash rather than throwing everything away,” says Dr. Melinda Coogan, assistant professor of biology. “Ultimately, we hope all of the BVU campus buildings will become LEED certified, which will greatly reduce the use of resources, but this will be an ongoing process that will take a while to achieve.”
BVU is committed to a number of campus-wide changes. As BVU continues with new construction and replaces fixtures and equipment across campus, a commitment to energy-efficiency and the environment will drive the decision-making process says Keith Schmidt, director of facilities management. For example the renovations underway at Pierce and White residence halls will be LEED certified, and recycling is being implemented there.
“I think this program will benefit the campus by getting a concerted effort across campus going to do some simple things, like get a recycling program going and using green cleaners, that will benefit us all and our planet in the future,” says Kayla. “I think the program will benefit the community by using the campus as a testing ground for ideas that might benefit the community and by giving the community ideas about what they could also do.”
The Sustainability Task Force and student organizations, such as Students Concerned About Tomorrow’s Environment (SCATE) and the newly formed Global Fellows, are becoming actively involved in campus-wide sustainability directives, which currently includes raising community awareness of the BVU recycling project.
“When we respect our natural resources and the land that produces the resources, I think we become more thoughtful consumers,” says Coogan. “As we become more thoughtful consumers, we automatically begin living more sustainable lifestyles, and eventually, these lifestyles become the lifestyles of preference. I see this as a tremendous benefit to us as a local and global community.”
For more information on the Sustainability Task Force, visit www.bvu.edu/green.