Remarks at Sustainability Festival
March 9, 2013
It is a pleasure for me to welcome you to the University of Redlands for what I hope is an annual Sustainability Festival. It seems fitting to hold this festival at a University where mission is imbued with environmental stewardship. It really derives from our students’ passion. That commitment to sustainability serves as a constant reminder that we must not compromise our environmental resources for them, and for the generations to come. Our faculty’s research expertise helps us recognize the harmful impacts of past ecological carelessness, and how necessary it is to implement solutions proactively that ensure a healthy and sustainable co-existence with the environment.
In an effort to publicly acknowledge our accountability and commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability, the University of Redlands signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment in February, 2007. Since then, we have adopted new operating practices that reduce energy consumption, lower the campus’s carbon emissions footprint, encourage more “green campus” development, and promote environmentally sound and responsible daily practices into our overall planning for land use, construction, transportation, and energy use. Two weeks ago in my inauguration address, I made a central part of my vision for South Campus development the idea that we should use modern geodesign methods and be an exemplar for the State of California. There’s a great deal of work still ahead of us, but we’ve made progress over the past decade.
This morning, we are coming together at Lewis Hall, which was designed and constructed to conform to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) requirements for Green Building Certification, which earned Lewis Hall a silver level certificate from the U.S. Green Building Council. This earth-sheltered facility features many innovative design characteristics that allow it to function in a high-tech capacity with minimal resources.
Just a few of its many environmentally sensitive features are:
- Erosion and sediment control
- Water efficient landscaping and plumbing fixtures
- Bicycle racks
- "Green" roof design appropriate to our arid climate
- Recycled carpeting
- Native plants and decomposed granite covering building exterior
- Use of nontoxic glues and other materials to protect indoor air quality
- Extensive use of natural day lighting
- LCD display screens linked to sensors for use in tracking building performance and for visualizing interactions between environmental systems and human social systems.
The University of Redlands Center for the Arts on the south side of campus earned the University its first LEED gold level certification. Its 42,000 square feet of space is filled with impressive green features such as:
- More than 77 percent of the wood-based building materials were harvested from Forest Stewardship Council certified forests.
- Energy-efficiency measures including an improved thermal envelope, high-efficiency glazing, reduced-lighting power density, and occupancy sensors.
- All indoor adhesive and sealant products, and all indoor paint and coating products comply with the Volatile Organic Compounds emission standards.
- We diverted from landfills 3.5 million pounds (or about 96 percent) of all on-site generated construction waste.
- 32 percent of the building materials were manufactured from recycled resources.
This campus also has its own cogeneration and chiller plant which produces the majority of our energy. Producing our own energy supply has resulted in a reduction of our carbon footprint by 30%. To put this into perspective, a 30% reduction in our carbon footprint is equivalent to planting more than 1,000 acres of forest.
Merriam Hall is our first sustainability-themed residence hall. Merriam is a living learning community focused on sustainable living, environmental activism, and outdoor programming. The hall features environmentally sound products, such as low-flow shower heads, energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs, and furniture in the lounge and lobby area made from eco-friendly or recycled materials.
The University hasn’t just focused on green construction and facility improvements. We are proud to partner with a forward-thinking food service provider, the Bon Appétit Management Company. To them, a sustainable future for food service means flavorful food that’s local, healthy, and economically viable for all, and is produced through practices that respect farmers, workers, and animals; foods that help replenish our shared natural resources for future generations. Bon Appétit also emphasizes a low carbon diet, offering food choices that leave a lower carbon impact. They buy milk, vegetables, and other food from local growers. One of the local sources of fresh produce for Bon Appétit is the student SURF garden, which stands for Sustainable University of Redlands Farm. This is a classic example of a sustainability partnership network – the University provided the plot of land; dedicated students plant, weed, water, and harvest; Bon Appétit purchases the fresh produce and serves it in the University’s dining hall; and funds generated from the sale of the produce is put back into the garden. That’s a virtuous cycle.
Our commitment to environmental stewardship, however, reaches beyond the borders of our campus boundary. We strive to be a good neighbor and citizen of this community and region. The University can develop and apply knowledge and expertise in support of sustainable communities. Sustainable communities are characterized by robust economies, educational opportunity, environmental quality, access to health care, efficient transportation and land-use systems, and comprehensive, forward-looking planning. Redlands is part of a larger region that is rich with potential – but also with challenging problems of aging, healthcare access, poverty, and joblessness. The Inland Empire will continue to experience rapid growth while confronting those complex economic, environmental, and social challenges. Our own mission and the hopes for our own future compel the University to develop a long-term collaborative role with our neighbors in seeking solutions to these critical challenges facing the community that will always be our home. More directly, the University will become a leading resource for policy research and support for smart planning and geodesign in the Inland Empire. With enough vision – for, as it says famously on the Redlands Bowl, “Without a vision the people perish” – we will build upon emerging strengths, expertise in spatial reasoning and geographic information systems, an established applied research center at The Redlands Institute, science and research-based spatial analysis and forecasts of economic phenomena from the Institute for Spatial Economic Analysis, and an unparalleled tradition of community service.
Today, let us not only celebrate our existing commitment, or congratulate ourselves on what we’ve already done, for there is much yet to be done, and much by which to be inspired. You all know by heart this unforgettable “Margaret Meadism:” “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”