Lake Erie College goes even greener with new sustainability initiative

Academics,

In an effort that lives up to the school’s primary color, Lake Erie College is going even greener with a sustainability initiative called the LEC Sustainability Committee (LECSC).

The group began its efforts with an open forum on April 10, 2016 in Dickinson Lecture Hall under the direction of co-chairs Justin Levine, associate director of financial aid, and Al Fazenbaker, assistant professor of AYA science. At the forum, ideas submitted by students, staff and faculty were considered. Potential projects discussed included attaching water bottle fillers to campus water fountains, instituting a recycling program, raising awareness about energy consumption, and eliminating the use of Styrofoam and plastic eating utensils in the dining hall and Storm Café.

With these ideas in mind, the LECSC crafted the following mission statement: “To advance environmental sustainability within the LEC community by acting as a catalyst for information exchange. LEC will enable a sustainable campus atmosphere which focuses on energy consumed, resources utilized, and indoor and outdoor environmental stewardship.”

The LECSC is not alone in its commitment. Now, a new environmental science major is being offered to incoming students. Aspiring scientists may join Lake Erie College in its new era of conservation, environmental awareness and forward thinking.

Sustainability ventures are already underway. At the time of the meeting, Nadia Lee '17 was finalizing the installation of water bottle fillers in Arthur S. Holden Center near the dining hall as the Class of 2017’s gift to the College. The committee had also begun talks with building and grounds to place recycling bins in residence halls, where students will be able to dispose of plastic, paper, aluminum and cardboard. Finally, reusable takeout containers to replace the current Styrofoam boxes are being considered, said Levine. The committee prioritizes projects based on initial investments of time, effort and resources. Acquiring funds remains a top priority.

Information and education are at the initiative’s core. A fall awareness campaign has been planned to encourage people across campus to turn off lights in unused rooms. The committee has also requested that bulbs be removed from campus vending machines, which it says will reduce energy consumption per machine by 35%. Inspiring an environmental consciousness has been named a key component of the group’s vision for Lake Erie College.

A speaker series is being planned for Fall 2017 to educate the campus community about sustainability and conservation, beginning with an event on September 5, 2017 in Austin Science Hall, said Levine. President Posler has approved the creation of a community or student garden on the main campus grounds or at the George H. Humphrey Equestrian Center, and students are encouraged to join in the planning of this project.

Breaking routine will be a difficult endeavor, said Levine, but the ball is in motion. He points to the sustainable practices of a growing number of companies and TV coverage of tiny houses, thrifting and repurposing.

“There has been a shift happening for quite a few years now and we want to ensure that our institution continues to embrace the ideals of our students and campus community,” he said. “We want to be proactive and willing to change with our students. As much as we teach them, they continue to teach us and remind us what is important,” he said. Environmental science majors will have ample opportunities to lead.

Interested members of the Lake Erie community, faculty, staff and students can stay up-to-date via email and posts on the committee’s Facebook page and other social media sites. The committee invites faculty, staff and students to attend meetings, suggest projects, show up for on- and off-campus events, and serve on project-specific sub-committees.

For more information on the LECSC, contact Levine at julevine@lec.edu.

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