Six solar panels might not seem like much, but they’re part of a bigger venture.
Washington University’s efforts to create a more sustainable campus were recognized earlier this month when the University was named one of 15 new “Blue Skyways Partners” by the Blue Skyways Collaborative, a collection of public and private entities working to reduce diesel and energy-related air emissions in the central United States.
Other new members include an Anheuser-Busch brewery in Houston, the City of Tulsa, Okla., and Entegrity Wind Systems Inc., of Boulder, Colo.
“Washington University has partnered with institutions, both industrial and educational, to continue to make steps to reducing air emissions,” said Erin Robinson, chair of the Committee on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and a graduate student in environmental engineering. “The University isn’t by itself, but a part of many entities in the Midwest working toward a common goal.”
Robinson and Emily Dangremond, a CEQ member and a senior in Environmental Studies in Arts & Sciences, submitted the University’s membership proposal to the Blue Skyways Collaborative last spring and used the April 2006 installation of the six solar panels on the roof of Olin Library as evidence of the University’s commitment to reducing air emissions.
But the solar panels are only one tiny part of the University’s overall efforts — from the proliferation of recycling bins across campus to the hiring of Assistant Vice Chancellor for Campus Sustainability Matthew B. Malten in July — to become more environmentally friendly.
“We already are committed to continuing to improve the energy efficiency of our utility systems, the construction of LEED-certified, energy-efficient buildings, the use of some biodiesel in boilers and other projects,” said Malten, who is working to create a strategic plan to align campus operations with the principles of sustainability. “We are confident that when our strategic plan is finalized, it will further address emissions issues through its goals and initiatives.”
The CEQ, which is composed of students, faculty and staff members, was founded in 2000 to promote the importance of conservation and sustainability, to advocate the necessity of ecologically sound practices and to guide the University toward the highest degree of environmental responsibility.
It also serves as an umbrella organization for various student groups interested in environmental issues.
To help make the University community at large more aware of environmental issues, the CEQ is promoting Oct. 24-30 as Campus Sustainability Week. To close the week, Gal Luft, Ph.D., executive director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, will speak about energy security at 7 p.m. Oct. 30 in Graham Chapel.
Luft, a former lieutenant colonel in the Israel Defense Forces, has published numerous studies and articles on security and energy issues.
The efforts of the 15 new Blue Skyways Collaborative partners will prevent the emission of 1,768 tons of greenhouse gas and 900 tons of pollutants yearly. For more information on the Blue Skyways Collaborative, visit blueskyways.org.