Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability on JMU Campus

Thanh -- June 17th, 2007

This is a follow up to a post by finnegan titled, “Rose signs Presidential Climate Change” in which Don Egle, Director of Public Affairs and University Spokesman, briefly discussed the Presidential Commission on Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability (formerly the Sustainable Campus Working Group). The Presidential Commission is only one of three (3) commissions assigned by Dr. Rose since 1999, when he became the University’s president. In my opnion, that’s a pretty big deal.

I suppose the commmission officially started as a working group in October 2006, when JMU administrative staff, faculty, students, Harrisonburg City staff and members of the surrounding community met to develop plans to address several areas in which JMU has environmental impacts/footprints. I am not certain who/when the original idea was developed.

The co-chairs of the group are Dr. Maria Papdakis, of JMU’s Center for Energy & Environmental Sustainability and Professor in the Integrated Science & Technology (ISAT) program, and Towana Moore, Associate Vice President for Business Services. The original letter sent out to participants was addressed from Dr. Douglas T. Brown, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs. The Commission currently has over 30 participants.

The first draft version of the report currently stands at 58 pages, and I expect it to double in size at least in its final form. The report will be submitted to President Rose in August and is broken down into the following sections of areas being reviewed and addressed (please keep in mind that the final form of this list is subject to change):

A. Energy Use and Air Quality
1. Energy Use
2. Transportation
3. Outdoor Air Quality and Carbon Footprints

B. Our Material Campus
1. Procurement and Purchasing
2. Dining Services
3. Building and Construction
4. (Waste &) Recycling
5. Hazardous and Toxic Waste

C. Water, Land, and Natural Resources
1. Landscaping
2. Water and Sewage

3.Land Use and Land Use Planning

4. The Arboretum and the JMU Farm

Each area/subsection identified above complets reviews how the campus operates and its connections/partnerships with the surrounding community, and also completes a SWOT analysis identifying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that each faces. Each subsection also reviews and provides recommendations that JMU should/could follow to reduce its environmental impact/footprint. The commission members have been striving to look at JMU and ways to become sustainable holistically. I also feel that the group realizes that educating and engaging members of the JMU community (staff, faculty, and students) is crucial to the success of individual programs proposed and all programs together.

When the final report becomes available, I will ask for permission to post it here on hburgnews for everyone’s review.

In my personal opinion, observations, etc (not to be confused with the opinion of the commission, the campus, or the City), I realize that implementation will take a little bit more time than most of us would hope. Many programs although seemingly easy to implement may require a little or a lot of procedural changes, additional staff, purchases of materials, publication of information, and funds. Availability of funds is probably one of the biggest obstacles that we all encounter everyday in different ways. Sustainability, although often refering to the environment, also includes economic sustainability. The beautiful thing is that if one takes the time to think about it all holistically environmental sustainability provides for economic sustainability.

Here is a copy of the article in Madison Magazine that Don Egle refers to. Additionally, here is a paper written by Dr. Wayne Teel titled “Creating an Educational Landscape at JMU“, which contains recommendations for landscaping near ISAT and UREC. (Thanks Wayne for the permission.) Its a wonderfully written paper, for which a summary written by me could not do it justice.

11 Responses to “Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability on JMU Campus”

  1. finnegan says:

    That would be great if you could upload that report here (or at least link to it). Thanks!

  2. Drew Richard says:

    The funding will at least partially come from students fees. 81% of students in the Spring Student Government Association election voted to enact a $15 (or some other small amount) fee to help make JMU greener so I’m assuming that will start this coming year. For more info about some of the “green” efforts at JMU you can go here: http://jmugreenteam.com/

  3. Bubby says:

    One of the most environmentally friendly things that our Universities could do is join the push for mass transportation. With 16,500 students, nearly 5000 of which travel from out of state, most JMU students arrive in single-occupant, petrol burning, exhaust dispensers…again and again through the year.

    I can remember when folks actually arrived at VT on Amtrak trains, or greyhound buses, and freshmen were prohibited from having cars. Each time an academic session starts or ends, our interstates fill with students in cars. Arriving and departing acres of asphalt parking lot. And the number grows every year. Universities could make a powerful case for viable mass transit…if they, and WE really wanted to reduce our reliance on cars and petroleum, decrease greenhouse gases, and build a sustainable transportation infrastructure.

  4. Josh says:

    Bubby, Freshmen at JMU are prohibited from having cars.

    I don’t see us having a viable replacement for semester begin/end traffic anytime soon, but surely we can encourage students to use mass transit more for their daily commute to and from campus. Why do students–that only live a few miles away, mind you–drive to campus, park at satellite parking lot locations and hike to class, when they could have been picked up and dropped off basically door step to door step? I don’t get it.

  5. Bubby says:

    The Trans Dominion Express (TDX) is a proposed passenger rail system across the state. Currently the envisioned route is up from Bristol to C’ville and on to Richmond and NOVA. However, with sustainable transportation funding and more activism from the localities and Universities TDX could be a transportation reality – including the Shenandoah Valley. This is passenger rail using existing ROW and modern passenger coaches.


  6. Thanh says:

    Bubby, that’s a really great idea – Trans Dominion Express (TDX). I’ve never heard of the proposal until now. I’m going to look more into how I can support that. I would love to see it come up the I-81 corridor.

  7. This may be a little off topic, but have you noticed that JMU
    taps into the fire hydrants to water their grass? Why is
    this allowed – plus it’s been dry, shouldn’t we conserve water?

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