October 4, 2007-The University of Utah has established a new Office of Sustainability (OS) to support its commitment to becoming a more sustainable campus. President Michael K. Young formally launched this initiative with a presentation today on the west patio of the Olpin Student Union Building. The event was held in conjunction with Campus Environmental Impact Day sponsored by the Associated Students of the University of Utah (ASUU).
“Over the past few years, the University has made significant strides as a responsible steward of our precious environment,” said President Young. “The Office of Sustainability will allow us to greatly expand and deepen our efforts across campus to minimize our use of critical resources and preserve our environment.”
As part of its mission, the Office of Sustainability will be promoting new practices and policies to help the University operate more efficiently, mitigate upwardly spiraling energy costs and reduce the U’s impact on both the natural environment and the surrounding community. Prior to the official launch of the OS, the U added 1000s of paper recycling bins on campus, conducted building-by-building energy savings retrofits (e.g. replacing inefficient light bulbs), and adjusted watering practices and schedules to help save millions of gallons of water each year.
The new OS will help coordinate and expand these efforts throughout campus. The OS has ‘gone live’ with a new website, http://www.sustainability.utah.edu/, which will serve as a campus information hub. The website will be a key tool for building a campuswide sustainability network, producing a baseline ecological footprint analysis, and identifying future sustainability targets. The OS is coordinating a sustainability-related curriculum while also working towards using the campus as a laboratory for sustainability in teaching and research.
Visual displays at today’s event described many of the projects. The displays included: an overview of the new campus master plan, new alternative fuel vehicles (vegetable oil shuttle bus and vehicles that run on natural gas, biofuel, and electricity), electricity consumption/conservation, campus agriculture and dining, recycling, and the new bicycle collective mobile repair shop.
“This has been an excellent exercise in showing students how their actions can make a difference,” said OS Director Craig Forster. “Last year, U students played a key role in instigating and writing the proposal for an Office of Sustainability. Their proposal was approved less than 4 months after the first draft was written. The speed of the process also reflects the commitment of President Young and his senior administrators to move rapidly toward a more sustainable campus. I’m excited and gratified by the positive response our office has generated from all quarters of campus.”
Those attending the launch learned how the new Campus Master Plan will underpin the U’s sustainability efforts. The plan is being developed in concert with the emerging OS Strategic Plan for Campus Sustainability. The Campus Master Plan will provide an analysis of site locations for future research and teaching facilities, broader campus land use, landscape, formal and informal open space, as well as pedestrian and vehicular circulation. The analysis will also assess TRAX and public transportation, parking, predominant building use, utility infrastructure, land ownership, campus edges and community interaction, design features, and opportunities.