Last winter’s sustainability report detailed the various ways that UR is developing sustainable and cost-efficient practices. One of the report’s goals was the establishment of a Sustainability Council with a five-year mandate that began with preliminary meetings over the summer, and it is this council’s responsibility to make sure that the sustainable developments are continued and that more are pursued.
The past year has seen a number of achievements that have made the campus more sustainable, notably the cogeneration project. An improved cogeneration system will harness steam energy in a permanent process that will save the school money in future years. UR needs to make sure it follows up on such successes. It is imperative that the sustainability movement maintains momentum and does not fizzle out like some ambitious goals of the past.
An example of a project that dissolves every year is Recyclemania. For ten weeks, students put their efforts into recycling, and after, the energy gone into the program dissipates. It is important for students and UR Facilities to uphold a heightened awareness and sense of responsibility about recycling, as it is a simple and important way to affect change on the environment.
One area that has seen improvement but still has room for growth is in Dining Services. Some initiatives from the report have already been implemented, including buying locally grown foods (sold at Hillside Caf and Connections Caf), composting trash and recycling glass, plastic and metal containers. The report also previews a program that would convert fry oil into bio-diesel fuel.
This is a great start, and Dining Services should continue to try out such sustainable measures. Dishes at Connections are not only local but also refreshingly unique, and the caf has enjoyed popularity in its first semester on River Campus; a second location with local foods would be a welcome addition.
Sustainability efforts are crucial to UR’s long- and short-term plans. Students cannot be expected to be environmentally conscientious if the Sustainability Council is not setting its own standards high enough.