Monday, October 4, 2010

The Importance of an Office of Sustainability

While DePaul promotes sustainability on many levels, it does not seem as if there is one central Office of Sustainability. Having a centralized office could help in even further promoting sustainable practices and methods at DePaul. DePaul’s neighbor to the north, Loyola University Chicago, has taken the initiative to create an Office of Sustainability within their Center for Urban Environmental Research and Policy (CUERP). This office has several goals and initiatives, all of which are centralized under the umbrella of the Office of Sustainability.

The office has several initiatives that engage the student body, faculty, and surrounding community. One huge undertaking has been the Biodiesel program. As a graduate of Loyola, I remember when this program first started. It began very small and grassroots, but has become something quite larger. It now supplies 5% of the fuel to the campus’ shuttles. While this is just a small example of one initiative of the Office of Sustainability, there are several more. What is truly interesting about the Loyola example is how they have attempted to centralize several sustainable initiatives in one office. This makes it much easier to record and measure the successes and failures of sustainable practices and methods.

While DePaul has several sustainable initiatives, including a commission on sustainability, having one centralized office presiding over all if not most of the sustainable initiatives would make things much easier. In addition to having several different sustainable activities, CUERP and the Office of Sustainability have a degree program in Environmental Studies and Sciences. They approach sustainability through a multi-system, and multi-disciplinary approach. Loyola and DePaul have a lot of similarities. Both are Catholic institutions with similar goals, missions, and values. They are both urban campuses with several locations in the city. They have similar challenges and unique opportunities for developing sustainable living and practices.

The Office of Sustainability has the following goals: “The Center for Urban Environmental Research and Policy's office of sustainability advances Loyola University Chicago's mission to create a more sustainable university community. Doing this requires the collaboration, cooperation and creativity of every department and office and of students, faculty and staff in our academic community. Together we're building awareness, taking initiative and transforming our university into one that will lead us sustainability down the path of ecological and social responsibility.” When reading this passage, it could easily be mistaken for a DePaul mission. DePaul has taken some first steps in creating a centralized office. Having a commission on sustainability is a positive step towards the centralization of sustainable activities. While it may be difficult, the formation of one Office of Sustainability could be incredibly advantageous. Loyola is just one example of a similar university to DePaul who has taken sustainability to the next level. There are universities all over the United States who have taken many extra steps to creating the most sustainable practices possible. DePaul is on a positive path to sustainability and only needs a few more things to create the framework to truly promote sustainable practices and living.

Posted by: Timothy Scheel

Photo courtesy of : Loyola University Chicago

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