Sustainability workshop invites Georgetown community to create campus sustainability plan
Just eight months ago, Chief Operating Officer Chris Augostini hosted a Hoya Roundtable to discuss the state of sustainability issues on campus. Every organization present stressed the need for the university to open an Office of Sustainability. This school year, Georgetown heeded that call and named former campus Sustainability Coordinator, Audrey Stewart, the Founding Director of the Office of Sustainability.
The office, located under New South Residence Hall, proclaims their long-term goal to be to cut the university’s carbon footprint in half by 2020.
Stewart clarified that more specific, short-term goals include “doubling the number of filtered water filling stations across campus,” and that the office is “currently working with students and staff to finalize the locations for 10 more stations.”
So as to realize the ambitious goal of halving the university’s carbon footprint, the Office of Sustainability hosted the Sustainability Campus Planning Workshop on Nov. 19 in the ICC Galleria.
The workshop was open to students, faculty members, and staff members, inviting them to engage in the process of developing a Campus Sustainability Plan, and in the words of Stewart, “to leverage the wisdom and good ideas of the campus community to help strengthen the campus sustainability planning process.”
The workshop opened with a keynote address from Laura Anderko Ph.D R.N., an associate professor in the NHS and Robert and Kathleen Scanlon Endowed Chair in Values Based Healthcare. She highlighted the importance of recognizing how the actions of the Georgetown community affect the lives of people living in all wards of D.C. “Achieving environmental justice will require a bold commitment to a values-based approach where we care about people, including the impact of the environment where they live, work, and play,” said Dr. Anderko.
Following Dr. Anderko, GUSA Secretary of Sustainability, Gabriel Pincus (SFS ’14) gave an address. He focused on his personal journey with sustainability at Georgetown, ranging from his role as the head intern at the Office of Sustainability, as the leader of the Community Garden, his position in GUSA, and more.
Drawing attention to his impending graduation, Pincus implored younger students to get involved. He said, “Please continue to speak up, please continue to make Georgetown a better, more sustainable place.”
Vice President of Planning and Facilities Management, Robin Morey, concluded the opening remarks by outlining the specific issues that would be discussed during the workshop.
After the introductory speeches, the workshop attendees were divided into a number of breakout groups focusing on eight different topics: food systems, bicycles and transportation, water, buildings, energy, solid waste, land and grounds, and purchases and supply chains. A campus student sustainability leader facilitated each breakout session. Leaders included GU Fossil Free member, Makaiah Mohler (COL ’16), and co-chair of the Senate Sustainability Subcommittee, Mandy Lee (COL ’17). Both also serve as interns and student ambassadors in the Office of Sustainability.
“Hopefully this workshop will just be the beginning of sustainable innovation to come at Georgetown,” said Mohler.
After meeting for 35 minutes to discuss ideas pertaining to their designated issues, the breakout groups shuffled and reconvened for a second breakout session.
The breakout sessions were composed not only of students, but Georgetown faculty and staff members as well. The latter offered their expertise to broaden students’ understanding of the issues at hand.
When the breakout sessions ended, all workshop attendees gathered together to share what they had discussed in small groups. Then, the event came to a close.
As the Office of Sustainability is brand new, their primary goal this year is to develop a Campus Sustainability Plan. According to Stewart, the Sustainability Campus Planning Workshop was the second step in a series of steps the office will be taking to develop this plan throughout the year.
“The [Campus] Sustainability Plan is our opportunity to become a leader amongst universities and to carry out our commitment to environmental responsibility,” said Lee. “I think this is a really exciting and rare opportunity for the Georgetown community to take a step back, look at campus as a whole, and implement widespread change to make it the most sustainable it can be.”
Photo: Olivia Hinerfeld/Georgetown Voice