UC sustainability effort continues in varying ways

March 13, 2016 5:11 PM | Anonymous

Source: The News Record  

After many attempts over the last several years to enrich the University of Cincinnati’s sustainability, the university’s effort has now manifested through awards and favorable student opinion.

UC was named a 2015-2016 diamond-level Transit Friendly Destination by the Green Umbrella, a regional sustainability organization in Cincinnati working toward environmentally-friendly metro areas. 

The award is for groups promoting transit ridership for individuals, as well as encouraging social responsibility through integration of culture, according to the Green Umbrella’s website.

Internally, Student Government voted against fossil fuel divestment in February, but UC is still continuing work for a sustainable future through following a Climate Action Plan (CAP), providing a guideline for the university to be more eco-friendly. 

CAP is a document written by the President's Advisory Council on Environment and Sustainability. It establishes topics ranging from buildings and transportation to education and opportunities.

“The university is committed to sustainability through the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment,” said Erin LeFever, a third-year environmental studies student and assistant sustainability coordinator.

LeFever continued to describe the entailments of the plan, citing UC’s carbon footprint and overall green presence.

“This was first signed in September 15, 2009. The comprehensive document includes an in-depth study of the university's carbon inventory and existing practices in categories such as transportation, buildings, energy, education, outreach, etc,” LeFever said. 

Encouraging students and faculty alike, the document provides ideas for maximizing UC’s green potential. 

“One of the most powerful ways for students to create sustainable initiatives is by teaming up with faculty and administration. By pooling talents, knowledge, ideas and resources, students at UC can make a much larger impact and complete more complex projects and reach more people,” the document reads.

The university’s UC Sustainability (UCS) initiative, founded in 2010, reports directly to the President's Advisory Council on Environment and Sustainability.

UCS has implemented practices such as All Recycling, created in 2010, which combines community efforts with campus living. 

Their focus is placing containers in general funded buildings on the Uptown, UC Reading, UC Victory and Academic Health Center campus, as well as in TUC, the recreation center and inside all residence halls.

All maintenance and emptying of the containers goes to Facilities Management staff, who also places the containers, according to Peter Moorhouse, sustainability coordinator. 

Another green initiative tied to UC is Bike Kitchen, a bicycle repair and lessons shop located at 2936 Woodside Dr., attached to Myers Alumni Center.

According to UCS’ website, the business is run by trained bicycle mechanics and has four ‘Fixit Bike Repair Stations’ around campus, where resources are available on campus for bike repair. The locations are inside Crawley near the Fitness Center entrance, at the 100 level of TUC, the north patio at Calhoun Hall and outside the Bike Kitchen.

However, some students are not impressed with the changes UC has made. 

“I haven’t seen anything happen immediately. We’ve had talks but we’re not doing anything,” said Katelyn Mullett, a second-year physical therapy student. 

Sustainable resources are accessible but can vary depending on the building, such as Langsam Library, where students may have to go out of their way to recycling stations.

“I wish there were more recycling bins. There were times when I’ve wanted to but couldn’t,” said Umar Duranni, a first-year medical sciences student. “In Langsam, there could be more recycling bins other than just paper. UC could be doing a better job.” 

In contrast, UC also created the UC Shuttle that runs every weekday, which reduces vehicle emissions by promoting the idea of transporting students on and near campus on the same shuttle.

Overall, UC’s work toward sustainability appears to be positive, especially for students who have seen the progress firsthand. 

“I definitely have noticed a lot more green efforts this year than in past years,” said Louie Torres, a fifth-year engineering student.

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