Herbst celebrates UConn’s No. 1 rank in sustainability
Published: Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 00:10
UConn students, faculty, staff and corporate donors gathered in the Alumni Center on Oct. 21 to celebrate the university’s No. 1 “Cool Schools” ranking by the Sierra Club.
President Susan Herbst thanked everyone in attendance at the Campus Sustainability Day breakfast for helping UConn become a more sustainable university.
“We’ve created a truly excellent environment for stewardship,” Herbst said in her speech. She spoke about the progress that UConn has made in the past few years, noting that four years ago, the university was barely in the Sierra Club’s top 50 colleges and universities.
“We have the opportunity to be leaders here,” Herbst said. “We’re doing the right thing for ourselves and for future generations.”
Herbst gave a special thanks to Director of UConn’s Office of Environmental Policy, Richard Miller, whom Herbst called “critical to our success as we work towards sustainability.”
Miller called the process of making UConn more sustainable a “collaboration” between everyone on campus, students and staff included, who are involved in sustainable initiatives.
“It’s a great time to be here,” said Miller, citing many new or continuing initiatives and implementations on campus such as EcoMadness, a new environmental studies major, a microgrid that can provide power for most of the Depot Campus and an agricultural waste composting facility at the Spring Valley Farm, an extension of EcoHouse where some of the produce consumed at UConn is grown.
UConn students and faculty will continue to collaborate and share ideas to increase sustainability on campus at a meeting in November.
According to Miller, future plans include educating students about the sustainability programs UConn already has, as well as possibly implementing a microgrid or microturbine on campus.
The Sierra Club’s CT Chapter Program Coordinator, John Calandrelli, was in attendance at the celebratory breakfast. He said that turbines would be a good idea for Fairfield Way. “It’s the windiest place outside of Chicago,” Calandrelli said.
Calandrelli also recommended solar panels on the Gampel Pavilion. “The sun is perpendicular to a dome at every moment,” he said.
Many people at the breakfast sited UConn’s Reclaimed Water Facility, which opened earlier this year, as one of the most important recent implementations for sustainability. The facility treats wastewater and allows it to be used for purposes that don’t require fresh water.
“We don’t need to use the Fenton River as much,” said Corinne Tagliarina, the Sustainability Coordinator at the Office of Environmental Policy. The Fenton River, one of several water sources utilized by UConn, hasn’t dried up since 2006 according to Dave Wanik, the Assistant Sustainability Coordinator at the OEP.
“Our water need increases as our population increases,” Tagliarina said. “But we’ve reduced our water intake by 15 percent since 2005.”
Tagliarina said that the university still needs to continue “getting people engaged and keeping them engaged” in environmental issues. Wanik agreed that a combination of engineering solutions and behavioral changes is necessary for UConn to continue to progress as a sustainable university.