Year end and year forward

As the college comes to the end of this fiscal year, I feel good about my goal to share our sustainability mission with the St Louis community at large.  Dennis Dill, HVAC Manager, and I wrote a chapter for a book on community college sustainability efforts; and he and I presented at a national conference with our colleague Dan Eberle from Crowder College.  We got our Green at STLCC website launched to share our story. STLCC’s efforts with Wildwood and new Harrison Center were featured in a national magazine, Green Business Quarterly (May/June 2010).  I have collaborated extensively in the region, making connections with sustainability coordinators at Lewis and Clark Community College, Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, St Louis University, Washington University (main and medical campuses), University of Missouri STL & Mizzou, Maryville University, Fontbonne, Principia and Webster University.  I have been on the founding level for several consortia–St Louis Regional Higher Education Sustainability Consortium; gathering with St Louis University following the Water Matters series featuring non-profits like East-West Gateway, Sustain St Louis, Focus St Louis, EarthWays Center; and with Clean City STL, a group working on infrastructure needs for electric vehicles in our region. I have shared our story on a national community college monthly conference call through the American Association for Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), and presented our sustainability story to North County Business Association, County Health Luncheon, and Missouri Community College Association. Internally, I’ve presented to the Auxiliary Managers retreat; helped gather those who want to further green our curriculum; and invited the campus green teams to share their accomplishments and to envision where we want to go next.

Though proud that we continue to focus on energy efficiency, completed a Greenhouse Gas audit and a 6 month paper audit, we teams know there is more to accomplish.  In a budget-tight time, changing behavior and perspective is something that doesn’t cost a dime.  Turning off lights, computers, and faucets can help considerably.  Rethinking how we use paper to teach and do our jobs is doable. Conserving precious resources is needed for our bottom line, not just for the environment. We can try out new ideas like Ride Finders, or renting a hybrid for meetings.  Better yet, we can request conference calls rather than commuting to other campuses. We can remember to print two-sided copies.  Every little change counts.  One monitor and computer running all night costs only 7 cents–but multiplied by 7200 computers across the district means over 500.00 per night!  That simple turning off behavior can save jobs and programs. That means social justice as well as eco and financial responsibility.

Here’s what the teams envisioned on May 26th–campus community gardens for fresh produce; compost food waste districtwide; promote commuting; promote reusable containers and ban plastic bottles; adopt areas for beautification; adopt recycling bins to assist with program flow; explore revenue from recycling and surplus; and invest in renewable energy–solar, wind and geothermal.  The big goal for both Flo Valley and Meramec is participation in Recycle Mania in spring for a 10 week competition. I am writing a grant for a sustainability intern to help with Meramec’s GHG audit, FV’s carbon goal-setting, planning a Reduce Day and a Reuse Day in the fall, and exploring the possibilities for campus gardens and composting.  I am excited about these goals, and hope to instill that enthusiasm in others so we can navigate these economically turbulent times with life-enhancing values.

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