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Adrian, Michigan – On April 15, Siena Heights University inaugurated the William Issa Endowed Lecture Series, a series honoring a young man who, in his short life, displayed a significant commitment to protecting Earth’s environment.
The inaugural speaker, Dr. Mark Z. Jacobson, Director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University, addressed the significant problems of global warming, air pollution, and energy insecurity by suggesting a plan to convert the powering of the world’s energy infrastructures completely to wind, water, and power. He presented projections on these exciting possibilities to an enthusiastic audience in Francoeur Theatre. He also met with several smaller groups while he was on campus and spoke the following day at Weber Center.
While the establishment of the Sustainability Lecture Series is a visible sign of Siena’s commitment to the future of the Earth, many more efforts that are going on at the University may not be as easily recognized, but they are also important to our efforts.
The McLaughlin University Center became the largest LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified building in the county when it opened almost two years ago. Among the tasks required of our contractor in attaining that recognition were purchasing building supplies as locally as possible, keeping the amount of waste to a minimum, and checking the dumpsters regularly to see that the contents were all of the appropriate kind and that no well-meaning passer-by had avoided littering by adding trash to the containers.
The University Center was the site of Siena’s first water refill station, an opportunity for community members to refill their water containers rather than multiplying the number of plastic water bottles we consume. This has been such a popular station that two more have been added near drinking water fountains on campus.
The Center also houses Siena’s food service, which is run by Chartwell’s, a company with a significant commitment to sustainability. One noticeable example is the need to make several trips to collect salad, drink and entree for a meal in this trayless environment. The tradeoff is eliminating waste that might have been produced by piling onto a tray food that may not be eaten. Going back for seconds is allowed.
Al Peters, Custodian Supervisor, shared his excitement about the attention to sustainability he finds—and adds to—at Siena: the monthly energy savings on the change of lightbulbs to LED in the fieldhouse has been significant; Siena has ordered more eco-friendly cleaning chemicals and is using recycled paper products. The company who handles the waste disposal reports that the amount of recycling has increased.
Al is a member of the Sustainability Committee initiated and chaired by Tom Wassmer from the Biology Department. This group represents all facets of the community, faculty, staff and students with a goal of raising our conscious attention to sustainability — for the good of Siena and of the Earth.