Parkland to highlight sustainability in October
Parkland prides itself on raising awareness about specific issues that affect the world at large. Black Student Association, Parkland Pride and the Student Veterans at Parkland club are just a few examples of the organizations that have been created here on campus in an effort to raise awareness about various issues. Now Parkland wants to raise awareness about sustainability.
October is Campus Sustainability Month and there will be numerous events taking place throughout the coming weeks aimed at raising awareness about the topic. Sustainability coordinator Thor Peterson explained why this is an issue students should be concerned with.
“To me, sustainability is about the future,” Peterson said. “What are our jobs going to look like as the world changes due to climate change and resource depletion? There are a whole bunch of factors that sustainability touches on and we can either plan for those or be surprised by them,” Peterson said.
Peterson explained that the concept of sustainability is crucial when making difficult financial decisions that institutions such as Parkland have to deal with.
“For me here, in my job as sustainability coordinator, it’s pretty direct things like how much does Parkland spend on electricity every year and how does that impact our operational budget overall?” Peterson said. “If we can figure out ways to reduce that energy burden, does that free up funds for things that are more directly beneficial to students, faculty and staff? That sort of resource conservation just makes bottom line sense.”
Hilary Valentine, associate director of marketing and public relations/marketing analyst, has been a part of the Sustainable Campus Committee here at Parkland since 2009. She explained that the scope of sustainability is broad.
“I think there are so many aspects of sustainability and I think that one thing we don’t do a very good job of is connecting the dots,” Valentine said. “We tend to operate in a vacuum and, really, everything is connected. There are so many connections and sustainability can kind of be the center of all those connections. It brings together diversity, social justice issues and environmental issues and economic issues.”
There are so many aspects of sustainability that is it is difficult to cover all of them over the course of just one month. The idea is to get the message out, raise awareness and start getting students to think in terms of sustainability. Each week in October is dedicated to a certain aspect of sustainability, and the scheduled events coincide with that theme.
The week of Oct. 5 to Oct. 11 is themed “Zero Waste” and will feature an electronics recycling event on Oct. 10. The theme for week two will be “Food Security”, which will focus on food waste both in the home and on Parkland’s campus. Students are encouraged to bring a non-perishable, healthy food item to the sustainability table in the cafeteria for donation to the Wesley Food Pantry.
“Biological Integrity” week will be held Oct. 19 to Oct. 24. Week four will be dedicated to “Sustainable Design” and will focus on the “green features” of new construction.
On Oct. 29 at 11 a.m. there will be a ceremony to celebrate Parkland’s first Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification. Jeff Johnson from BLDD Architects will lead a tour of the T building and discuss its green features.
Gregory Walburg is a professor in the construction design and management program at Parkland, and is also a member of the Sustainable Campus Committee. He explained what it means for a building to be LEED certified.
“LEED is a guideline for designing and constructing greener buildings,” Walburg said. “These buildings use fewer resources to construct and maintain and so contribute less waste and pollution both during construction and during the life of the building. They also are designed to be better buildings in a number of ways; for example, to last longer and require less maintenance by using very durable materials.”
Peterson will also have a table set up in the Student Union building on every Wednesday throughout Oct. from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. He hopes to engage students in conversation about the various aspects of sustainability. He also hopes to get a student organization dedicated to sustainability up and running in the coming weeks. Any students who are interested in getting involved should visit his office in Student Life.