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Georgian Court And EPA Partner For Program On Sustainability

EPA's Lisa Plevin and Georgian Court University Presdient Rosemary Jeffries sign the Memorandum of Understanding
EPA's Lisa Plevin and Georgian Court University Presdient Rosemary Jeffries sign the Memorandum of Understanding (Ilya Hemlin Townquare Media NJ)

In an effort to create a greater emphasis on sustainability, Georgian Court University is announcing a partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to create more dedicated “green” initiatives for the university.

A memorandum of understanding was signed on Monday by the Georgian Court presidents Rosemary Jeffries and the EPA to solidify their partnership in an EPA based program which helps organizations (and private residents) create a list of objectives to follow in creating a sustainable manner of operation.

EPA Senior Policy Advisor for Region 2, Andrew Bellina, says that the EPA acts as almost a consultant and helps the participant pick out from a list of initiatives and could even add additional projects. Bellina says Georgian Court selected almost every item available. This kind of flexibility helps institution’s like Georgian Court which already has several sustainability projects implemented.

“The institution takes a look at all of the potential things they can be doing. There may be some things they can be doing that we don’t even know about that of course we will also include in any agreement.” Adding “there maybe things and ideas that they have that they don’t know how to implement and give them information through that process.”

Bellina does however note that the EPA’s role is only in a consultant-like position, offering advice and direction for projects, not providing funding. He adds that they do help institutions with learning how to obtain funding through grants and the like.

The program is “win-win” for both parties involved.

“Today going green really saves money, and in many cases you’re either reaping those benefits immediately or you’re looking at a payback that may be something like a year or year and half.” Says Bellina “the thing that EPA gets out of this is we’re reducing out carbon footprint of the organization which in turn reduces greenhouse gas emissions which is the leading cause of climate change.”

The memorandum includes initiatives which will incorporate “green” and sustainable environmental practices in everything the school does, from purchasing acquisitions to student mindset. Louise Wootton is a biology professor and director of sustainability at Georgian Court and is responsible for bringing the program to the school.

She says the idea came about almost a year ago after she learned about the program and wanted to incorporate it into the university.

“I heard there was a program available for universities that made available resources for partnership with the EPA that would help us to identify new ways of being more sustainable along with getting credit for the things we’re already doing.”

Sustainability has a history at Georgian Court, the university’s Wellness Building (which served as the location for the signing), is a lead gold certified building that boasts a “green” roof  made out of recycled materials and covered in special plants which assist drainage, a community garden that will provide food for needy families in the area, they also built a rain garden, and are participants in Recycle-mania , an intercollegiate contest to see who can recycle the most.

With the signature of the memorandum of Understanding, the school will receive assistance from the EPA in for projects including changes to buildings and equipment as well as educating students, faculty, and community members about the importance of sustainability. They will also install porous concrete and rain gardens to help with water management. They will also be partnering with the EPA’s clean construction program, which would work towards reducing the carbon footprint of equipment used during construction.

Planned Initiatives

•    Continue to serve as an EnergyStar Partner and promote cost-effective energy solutions;

•    Track and assess energy and water consumption of all major buildings on campus, and establish energy reduction goals;

•    Continue educating students and community partners about behavioral changes that support sustainability;

•    Participate in the EPA’s Green Power Partnership Program;

•    Utilize the EPA’s Greenscapes landscape planning recommendations;

•    Continue to evaluate and improve its storm water management and turf management procedures;

•    Work within the EPA’s WasteWise program to reduce its solid waste stream;

•    Provide the EPA with Green MOU updates that report GCU’s recycling/re-use of materials;

•    Participate in the Labs21 Partnership Program in an effort to promote sustainable, high-performance, low-energy laboratories on campus;

•    Work to reduce emissions from vehicles and other internal combustion engines used in construction or in facilities maintenance; and

•    Commit to using WaterSense guidelines to encourage water conservation.

Additionally Wootton says the University has big plans to change the behavior and thought’s related with learning about conservation. Georgian Court is planning for a 150% increase in recycling rate and has committed to a 2% reduction in energy use per year.

To get the message out there, Wootton said they are creating an awareness campaign targeted at their students called the “Water Closet Reader”.

Wootton notes that even though it may sound odd, “we’re a women’s college and we find that one of the most effective messaging comes from putting up fliers in the water closet.”

Additionally the college will have sustainability information readily available on the web portal used by students.

However most importantly says Wootton will be Georgian Court’s initiative to integrate sustainability into their curriculum for all students.

“What that means is that every student who comes here the courses that they take would have a component of sustainability, not changing the course so much as making aware what’s already in there that pertains to sustainability.”

 

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