March 22, 2010

JHU’s Ambitious Sustainability Plan Needs Help from Everyone

Center for a Livable Future

Center for a Livable Future

leana-houser-guest-bloggerJohns Hopkins University reached a major sustainability milestone March 11 when President Ron Daniels announced a commitment to reduce the University’s carbon footprint by more than half by 2025 – which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 141,000 metric tons a year. That is equivalent to the annual emissions from 26,960 cars or the burning of 736 railroad cars worth of coal! This announcement adds Johns Hopkins to a growing list of colleges and universities, which are taking responsibility to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and leading academia’s charge to reduce the threat of global warming through research, education and action.

This is an incredibly aggressive target and, thankfully, the Johns Hopkins Sustainability Office, along with members of the President’s Task Force on Climate Change – formed in 2007 by former university President William Brody – and countless other folks worked tirelessly to develop the plan to get us there.

The Implementation Plan for Advancing Sustainability and Climate Stewardship outlines numerous initiatives, including investing $73 million in energy efficiency and conservation projects at all of the university’s campuses; establishing an Environment, Sustainability and Health Institute to promote collaboration among JHU’s various schools on climate research; and creating a Sustainability House at the undergraduate campus, which will serve as a demonstration house for all things green, the home of the Sustainability Office and an all-around haven for JHU greenies.

I’ll pause while you leap out of your chair and scream hallelujah at the top of your lungs. OK, there’s more, so read on.

Maybe you’re thinking, “Now what?” Well, the “now what” is where the rubber meets the road (of course, I’m referring to the rubber on a bicycle tire). You may not know this, but the Sustainability Office is only two full-time people, plus some amazing student interns. Even before this announcement, we had been working night and day to reduce the environmental impact of JHU and we will continue to do that. But, with this herculean task ahead of us, we can’t do it alone. We need every member of the Johns Hopkins community to pitch in and do their part.

You’ve probably heard so much about the need to create green jobs, and I’m sure images of construction workers installing energy-efficient windows or scientists in a lab developing the latest and greatest renewable fuel pop into your head. Well, stop and look in the mirror! The image of the person staring back at you should pop into your head when you think of green jobs, because all jobs should be green jobs. Each and every one of us, whether we are an accountant, graduate student, custodian or Dean can and should make our job a green job by doing everything we can to minimize the environmental impact of our work.

Hopkins faculty, staff and students are some of the brightest in the business, so finding smarter, more creative ways to do our work while reducing our use of energy and resources should be child’s play. And to make it even simpler, the Sustainability Office has created some great resources  on our website, such as “Greening Your Office”, “Greening Your Lab”, “Green Campus Reps”, “Green Lab Champions” and so many more. So, join the movement and start making your job a green job. The planet and the Sustainability Office will thank you!

Leana Houser is the Sustainability Coordinator for the Johns Hopkins University.  Her responsibilities as Sustainability Coordinator include building and bridging lines of communication and cooperation between students, faculty, staff, and the Office of Facilities Management in relation to sustainability issues across the Hopkins’ academic divisions. She also focuses much of her time working with members of the Hopkins community to increase the adoption of environmentally preferable behaviors. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy from St. Mary’s College of Maryland in 1998 and a Masters in Environmental Sciences and Policy from Johns Hopkins University in 2007. In her spare time she savors cooking with her husband using locally grown foods provided by One Straw Farm’s Community Supported Agriculture CSA program.  Leana also digs gardening, hugging the trees in Patterson Park, and occasionally finds her groove supporting live music.

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