Sustainability Spotlight promotes campus efforts

Jackie Smith

Faculty, staff and students came together Tuesday night with a common interest in mind; to collaborate on ways to maintain Grand Valley State University’s reputation as a sustainable campus. What better building to hold an event called Sustainability Spotlight than the Mary Idema Pew Library itself, which recently reached LEED Platinum status – the highest of four levels of sustainability.

The event, hosted by the Office of Sustainability Practices, focused on such strides as projects, companies and organizations that are helping to bring awareness to sustainability, as well as make it a top priority, for the GVSU community.

About a dozen guest speakers were present, addressing a variety of sustainability-related topics. These ranged from how to get involved locally on campus to ArtPrize’s own sustainability plans.

“(Our office) thought it would be nice if we could provide an opportunity for everyone to come together and hear what each other is doing, and also provide an opportunity for some dialogue and perhaps some collaborations,” said GVSU Sustainability Coordinator Yumi Jakobcic.

Jakobcic also said that everyone at GVSU seems to be involved.

“What I found most striking about sustainability in my first few months here is that it’s happening all over campus,” she said. “It’s something that everyone is thinking about and people are very committed to it here.”

Professor Kelly Parker, director of GVSU’s environmental program, also talked about the campus’ green outlook.

“There is so much happening, and nobody knows how much is going on in this campus, which is wonderful because there is a lot of interest and a lot of excitement and a lot of experimentation and success stories,” Parker said. “This (event) is our attempt to get everyone in one room and share these great initiatives so that we can make our efforts more efficient.

Erik Nordman, a professor from the natural research management program, addressed programs and classes offered through GVSU with a sustainability focus.

“Natural research management has always been associated with sustainability under different names,” he said. “A bachelor’s degree and minor is available in research management program through the biology department.”

Hannah Fernando, a sophomore majoring in sustainable food systems at GVSU, spoke about Sprout Lab, a workshop open to all students that focuses on solutions to environmental problems.

“It’s for people with big ideas for solutions to any type of environmental problem,” she said. “Whether it’s agriculture, natural resource management or food systems, any of those types of ideas, we are a bunch of entrepreneurs with outlandish ideas.”

The many speakers at the event encouraged students, faculty and organizations to continue their sustainability practices and ideas and to brainstorm new concepts for the future.

GVSU has shown its commitment to sustainability, as this was the third year in a row that the university was named one of the greenest campuses in the country by the Sierra Club.

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