September 19, 2007

LEWISBURG, Pa. — The Bucknell University Environmental Center has initiated a collaborative, campus-wide environmental assessment of the university's operations and practices.

The project officially commenced at the first Environmental Assessment Summit, held Sept. 10 with attendance by more than 50 participants including students, staff, faculty, and community members.

According to Dina El-Mogazi, sustainability coordinator with the Center, the year-long environmental assessment process aims to establish the global impact of the university's activities, i.e. its ecological "footprint," through an intensive and comprehensive investigation into the details of university life.

Ten assessment teams

The assessment guidelines have been organized around the work of 10 assessment teams based on 10 indicators of sustainability, including administration/policy, education, energy, water, solid waste, hazardous materials, purchasing, dining, built environment, and landscape. 

The spectrum of investigation runs from the physical and mundane (e.g. quantifying the sheets of paper used each year), to the more philosophical and intangible (e.g. appraising the environmental literacy of the university’s graduates). 

"The goals of the assessment are fourfold: to establish a baseline of existing conditions, to provide a basis for improved sustainability, to promote environmental awareness through the assessment process, and to create an educational document for future use," said El Mogazi.

Model for sustainability

The Environmental Assessment Summit was itself designed as a model for campus sustainability. The buffet-style lunch was served without use of disposable items such as paper napkins or plastic cups. The menu included a broad range of ecologically responsible offerings, such as free-range chicken, organically grown basmati rice and salad greens, and locally grown apples, cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans, and potatoes. Paper use at the event was kept to a minimum, and all paper copies were printed on chlorine-free, FSC-certified, 100 percent post consumer recycled paper.

The summit's program included a keynote speech by Donald Brown, associate professor of environmental ethics, science, and law at Penn State University and director of the Pennsylvania Consortium for Interdisciplinary Environmental Policy, who set the context for the assessment by underscoring the urgency of the global climate crisis. 

Other summit speakers included Dennis Hawley, associate vice president for Bucknell facilities, Peter Wilshusen, co-director of the Bucknell University Environmental Center, and El-Mogazi. The speakers set the stage for a 90-minute work session during which the assessment teams assembled for the first time to plan and strategize their upcoming research. Results of the assessment are scheduled to be presented at a follow-up summit in September 2008.

For more information on the Bucknell University Environmental Center, see http://www.bucknell.edu/EnvironmentalCenter.xml

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Contact: Office of Communications

Posted Sept. 19, 2007

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