Posts Tagged “Sustainability”
Yesterday, as a part of a nation-wide Integrated Education Series, representatives from Sustainable Williamson held an open forum at Georgetown about their recent efforts to bring sustainability to communities in the coalfields of West Virginia.
Project developer, Eric Mathis, described the efforts of Sustainable Williamson as an attempt to bring the seemingly irreconcilable worlds of coal mining and renewable energy together under Six Components of Sustainability that serve all aspects of the community’s life. “A large area for me is that dichotomy between renewable energy and fossil fuel,” said Mathis. “For that debate translates to Republicans being fossil fuel to being renewable energy nobody had really ever come together to talk about productive mechanisms.”
According to the USA Census Bureau 28.8 percent of Williamson’s population live below the poverty line, which 75 percent higher than the national average. West Virginia provides approximately 40 percent of the country’s energy, and coal mining forms the base of its economy. Sustainable Williamson sees this dependence on coal to be detrimental to developing sustainability in the region and has partnered with organizations such as the HUB to help Williamson develop alternative economic niches.
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This week, Vox had the opportunity to chat with Luke Holden (MSB ’07), owner of Luke’s Lobster which opened recently on Potomac Street in Georgetown. Holden talks about how he came to own and operate Luke’s Lobster, what it means to have opened in Georgetown, and a little rant on the difficulty of owning a socially responsible and sustainable restaurant.
Vox Populi: Can you tell me a little bit about the Georgetown location of Luke’s Lobster?
Luke Holden: This is our ninth location, our third in the D.C. area. We opened in Penn Quarter last June and then we opened in Bethesda a month and a half ago. Georgetown opened this past Thursday. We’ve been actively pursuing this Georgetown space for probably close to two years.
Before we even had the Penn Quarter space, we were popping in and out because Philly P. was having trouble with the community board, and they were kind of opening and closing. And then they repurposed the space under a couple of different failed concepts, so we were actively trying to figure out who the landlord was for well over a year, probably closer to two years.
So, when it actually came on the market we got awfully excited. There were like ten people who knew we were interested and shot us emails saying they think it’s coming to market. So it really exciting, probably the most exciting opening we’ve had, particularly just because of how much Georgetown means to me and being able to give back to the community of the university.
The space itself was a complete dump. We didn’t have to move any walls or any significant fixtures, but we had to bring up floors and take down all the crap on walls, there were multiple layers of sheet rock and tile. We basically took the floors off, the wall off and refurbished everything. And it was a greasy dilapidated mess. It took us about a month and half to build that out. [...]
We used a lot of reclaimed products from Maine. First, the floors, they used old floor wood from a dilapidated barn that they just refurnished. The support beams that they used for the ceiling and stairs were all beams they got from a shipyard up in Maine. The tabletops were all from lumber that they dredged up from the bottom of Moosehead Lake. That’s really neat they ended up taking logs up and splitting them to your desired thickness, so you get those natural rough edges of the tree so the boards are pretty cool. Then, we decorated the restaurant with float rope that has also been recycled from the state of Maine, when they basically outlawed the use of float rope because whales were getting caught in it.
Vox Pop: When you were at Georgetown would you ever have pictured yourself opening a restaurant here five years later?
Holden: Unequivocally, no. I would never have said that I would even be in the restaurant business. After graduation, I did the traditional investment banking route in New York City. I did that for three years. But I knew that was ultimately not where I wanted to end up. But I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do. I just sort of followed the trend. I’ve always been passionate about all things Maine, the fishing, the lobster industry, growing up working in that industry. It was more about working with Maine, and my father, and the relationships we have up there then it was about opening a restaurant, that was just sort of the vehicle I ended up choosing in order to work with Maine industry and a small business.
Vox Pop: Why do you think Luke’s is a good fit for Georgetown?
Holden: The typical consumer is affluent and well-educated and wants to know where their food is coming from. They want to know they are eating a fresh, high quality product and that’s really the linchpin of who we are and what we are doing. Bringing sustainable Maine seafood from the ocean floor to our customer’s plates. The feeling is that the Georgetown community will appreciate the work that we do to get the product from the fishermen to the restaurant. So that traceability, the fact that we are socially conscious and working with only sustainable resources, that consumer basis is really what we are targeting when we are looking at any sort of growth.
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Yesterday, Chief Operating Officer Chris Augostini held another Hoya Roundtable–this time focusing on sustainability. The roundtable was also the debut of the “Visions for a Sustainable Georgetown” report, which made a litany of recommendations in the short, medium, and long term for Georgetown to achieve its goal of cuttings its carbon footprint in half by 2020. The report is included at the end of this post, but the speakers stressed a few key initiatives, so let’s start with those.
Office of sustainability
Almost everyone and every organization present stressed the need for an office of sustainability at Georgetown. The office would be a physical and hierarchical place on campus to lead the sustainability efforts on campus. According to the report,
This office… would provide advise and support to students and administrators on sustainability projects while keeping the University on track regarding the Climate Action Plan. The office would also work with students groups on sustainability issues and set up a sustainability review board for university operations as well as campus-wide events and initiatives.
Currently, Georgetown has one Sustainability Coordinator, Audrey Stewart, and a half-dozen eco-centered student groups, including Eco-Action, Georgetown Energy, and the GUSA cabinet position.
According to Erin Auel (COL ’14), a writer of the report, ”[Georgetown attracts] students who see their education as a purpose for good. Sustainability has to be a part of it, and that’s why we need an office of sustainability and a climate action plan.”
Moving forward, although Augostini wants to study the office’s feasibility first, he said, “The notion of creating an office makes a great deal of sense.” He hopes to have an answer as to the office’s feasibility by this spring and at the latest by the start of next year. Also, he says he would want to use the expertise of students to shape the office, and he cited the role of student investors in the investment office as an example.
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With the semester starting, we all have a lot on our minds, and sustainability might not be a top priority. But being eco-friendly at Georgetown can be easier than you think – and can save you some money, as well. Below are a few tips for a sustainable semester.
Print double-sided. Lauinger and all UIS stations now automatically print double-sided at a discount of 5 cents per page. If double-sided is not the default, you can choose Eco-Printing under “Print Settings.” Single-sided pages are 10 cents each, so why not go with the eco-friendly option?
Brush up on university recycling. Check out the Sustainability Initiative’s recycling guide. You’d be surprised at how much you can recycle on campus – electronics, batteries, furniture, plastic bags, and, yes, Solo cups (recycle them with plastics). Also check out EcoAction’s guide to recycling commonly trashed items.
Switch it off. The official Switch It Off Challenge is over, but that’s no reason to stop conserving energy. Here are some tips: lower your heating setting, turn off lights when possible, turn off computers and appliances when not in use, and take shorter showers. If you’re living in a townhouse, this will result in financial savings as well!
Use CFL light bulbs. Compact-fluorescent light bulbs use less energy and last longer than regular incandescent bulbs, and pay for themselves over their long lifetime. Find them at the bookstore and at CVS.
Buy textbooks green. Choose renting or used over new textbooks, or buy from Better World Books, a socially and environmentally responsible company with a huge supply of textbooks. For every book you buy, BWB donates a book to someone in need. Also, they have free shipping worldwide – and you can offset your shipment for just a few cents.
Buy everything else green, too. Choose recycled, FSC-certified paper and toilet paper; Environotes notebooks; and pens and pencils made from recycled material. Buy a reusable coffee mug and get a discount at Corp locations and Starbucks. Buy a reusable water bottle, too.
Madeline Collins is the Multimedia & Marketing Chair for EcoAction.
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Yesterday evening, a group of like-minded, eco-conscious students, faculty, and administrators gathered in McShain Lounge for the first-ever “Visions for a Sustainable Georgetown” event, a brainstorming workshop aimed at generating ideas to help Georgetown create “a concrete, measurable sustainability strategy.”
Father Kevin O’Brien, S.J., of Campus Ministry opened the event, speaking about sustainability as part of the Jesuit tradition of being “men and women for others” as well as for the natural world. Audrey Stewart, Georgetown’s Sustainability Coordinator, then outlined the goals of the workshop and gave the green-light for the workshop to begin.
The audience then divided itself among various subgroups, each concentrating on different topics such as food sourcing, transportation, and renewable energies. Student facilitators led the discussion and documented the ideas generated by the combined brainpower of the diverse group.
EcoAction President Claire Austin (SFS ’12) and GUSA Secretary of Sustainability Jessie Robbins (SFS ’12) conceived the idea of the workshop last spring. They then contacted Stewart, so that they could involve faculty and administrators to better present a cooperative and comprehensive vision for the University’s sustainable future.
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Georgetown earned a B in overall sustainability this year, according to the Sustainable Endowments Institute’s annual College Sustainability Report Card.
The grade is the same that the University received last year.
SEI grades are based on nine categories, including climate change and energy, student involvement, green building, investment priorities, administration, and shareholder engagement.
According to the report card, which independently evaluates “campus and endowment sustainable activities,” the University improved in the areas of transportation, food and recycling. SEI specifically lauded the GUTS bus service, car-sharing options, tray-less dining, and the purchase of locally-produced food. However, a failing mark in endowment transparency—due to a lack of public information—dragged down the overall grade.
Of the 336 colleges graded, 56 percent received B grades.
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Beginning in early December, select Georgetown faculty members will pull onto campus in a new, high-tech ride—the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHV).
Two of the plug-in hybrids will be loaned to the University as part of a global study conducted by Toyota and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program, according to a Toyota press release.
“By taking steps toward accommodating electric vehicle use, Georgetown continues to advance our sustainability goals, including the reduction of our carbon footprint,” Karen Frank, vice president for university facilities and student housing, said in the release.
Georgetown employees will have the opportunity to drive the cars in three-month shifts before passing them on to other faculty members. There’s a catch, however; each PHV takes between 90 minutes and three hours to fully recharge, meaning that test drivers will have to charge the cars at special parking spots underneath the Hariri building. (The Hariri building is LEED certified, so it is fitting that it will be housing these reduced-footprint cars.)
The Prius PHV is able to operates solely on electricity for 13 miles at normal traffic speeds, then reverts to a hybrid electricity and gasoline-fuel model.
Data from Toyota’s national demonstration will be posted beginning in early 2011. The data will be used to aid in the development of the next generation of Toyota vehicles available for sale in 2012.
Photo: Sustainability at Georgetown University
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Posted by: Molly Redden in News, Vox Populi, tags: 1789 Block, 2010 Campus Plan, Burleith Citizens' Association, CAG, Georgetown Neighborhood, Lenore Rubino, Parking, Sustainability, The Burleith Community Fund, Traffic
It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for. Right?
On Thursday, Georgetown University publicly released the final draft of its 2010 Campus Plan (PDF), which it will present to the community on Monday, April 26. Administrators have already presented most of the plan to Georgetown residents in a series of community meetings in November—Transportation, the 1789 Block, and Housing, Enrollment, and Off-Campus Life, but at least a few things have changed in this final draft—we’ve listed them below.
Meanwhile, the neighbors have been gathering their forces to fight the campus plan once it goes before the Zoning Commission for approval, where it will be studied at length by the Office of Planning.
Both the Citizens Association of Georgetown and the Burleith Citizens Association are raising funds to hire urban planners and zoning experts to counter the findings and testimony of Georgetown University’s experts, influencing the Office of Planning report and the Zoning Commission’s ruling on the plan. BCA President Lenore Rubino wrote in an e-mail to the Burleith listserv that in the last three weeks, the BCA has raised $4500.
In any event, here’s what’s new or has been clarified in the 2010 Plan:
- The convocation center, which would have been built on the McDonough parking lot for events like graduation, has been removed from the plan.
- The two staffers who will live near students in off-campus, non-Georgetown housing and act as Resident Advisers will start work this August. The summer SNAP car that Georgetown is funding will be patrolling neighborhoods this June.
- Three additional MPD officers will be hired through the reimbursable detail program to patrol “higher activity areas” on Thursday through Saturday nights.
- The University has scaled back its plans to develop the 1789 block, where it will build graduate housing. Instead of building housing for 250 – 300 students, the new apartments will house 120 students. The structures will be three to four instead of five stories high. Ten percent of the 80 parking spaces under the structure will be reserved for resident use. The retail the University planned for that area—like a coffee shop or a dry cleaner’s—will take up 8,500 square feet instead of 26,000 square feet.
- The University had originally proposed 1,000 new parking spaces for University and Hospital use. They are now only proposing 700 new spaces.
- Georgetown will explore the feasibility of getting a ZipCar station located closer to campus, potentially near the main gates.
- A quadrangle will be built between the Hariri Building and the new science center.
- Georgetown will explore adding new solar panels to campus buildings and “wind spires for on-campus outdoor lighting”
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Could Red Square, besides being a haven for condom-toting leprechauns and currently showered in purple glitter by Relay For Life, be the biggest center for wasting paper on campus?
Maybe. In any event, EcoAction, the student group dedicated to making campus more sustainable, has noticed that clubs funded by the Student Activities Commission waste a lot of stuff—especially food and the hundreds of flyers that paper Red Square on any given day of the week. Now, they’re about to start talks with administrators and, they hope, with SAC, to try to change that.
“The paper waste is pretty insane, so we’re looking to couple the over-flyering initiative with ways to green campus events in general,” Claire Austin (SFS ’12) of EcoAction wrote in an e-mail. She said that she is meeting with Director for Student Programs Erika Cohen-Derr and the new campus sustainability director, Audrey Stewart, next week.
Austin said EcoAction would also like to discuss a financial incentive for students to bring old flyers back to SAC for reuse. And she is writing a “greener events guide” for her meeting with Cohen-Derr that she hope SAC will include in its SAC Fair sign-up e-mail and SAC Treasurer training.
“In the short-medium term we’re looking to minimize waste (especially in flyering and food buying), get students to use the compostable utensils SAC provides, make portable recycling bins compulsory for all food events, and reduce bottled water use,” Austin wrote. “In the long term we’d like to see more sustainable event advertising in general.”
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As expected, the Rafik B. Hariri Building has been awarded LEED certification for its environmentally-friendly features. Georgetown applied for LEED Certification, which is awarded to buildings that are sustainable, and water, energy, resource, and material efficient, during the fall semester.
LEED certification is awarded by the U. S. Green Building Council, a non-profit organization which bills the award as the “nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings,” but LEED certification has been criticized for similarly weighting expensive green features with large environmental impacts and inexpensive projects with minimal impact.
According to a press release from the Georgetown McDonough School of Business, the following are some of the features that the LEED certification recognized:
“• An expected energy savings of 15 percent through efficient lighting design and controls
• A 41 percent water use reduction through use of ultra low flow fixtures and dual-flush water closets
• Water-efficient landscaping
• Building materials that contain recycled content and were manufactured locally
• More than half of the construction waste – 800 tons – was recycled and re-used
• Bicycle storage facilities, proximity to public transportation, and several preferred parking spaces for hybrid and electric vehicles
• Low-emitting paints, adhesives, sealants and carpeting
• Manufacturing 25 percent of the total building materials using recycled materials
• Local products, in that nearly 31 percent of the total building materials were extracted, harvested, or recovered, as well as manufactured, within 500 miles of the project site.”
“From the fluidized bed coal boiler in 1979, to the solar panels we installed on the Bunn Intercultural Center in 1982, to our fuel cell buses, Georgetown has long been green,” President John DeGioia said of the award. “We’ve done so because of a dedication to the principle of sustainability.”
The University has committed getting LEED certification for all of its new structures.
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