Scrolling Headlines:

UMass men’s basketball falters in the second half, falling to George Washington 83-67 Thursday -

February 24, 2017

UPDATE: SGA announces second and third artist for ‘Mullins Live!’ -

February 23, 2017

Divest UMass and STPEC host panel on building ‘solidarity economies’ in the Trump era -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s basketball losing streak extends to 10 games after loss to URI -

February 23, 2017

Sixth annual Advocacy Day set to take place March 1 -

February 23, 2017

Panel discusses racial, sexual and psychological violence in response to art exhibit -

February 23, 2017

Judy Dixon enters final season with UMass tennis with simple message: One match at a time -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball enduring early-season limitation in playing in New England -

February 23, 2017

Minutewomen softball begins season with cross-country travel, string of tournaments -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball looks to bounce back from disappointing 2016 season -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior Hannah Murphy is Angela McMahon’s latest legend in the making -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior defenders accept leadership roles in quest for ninth consecutive Atlantic 10 Championship -

February 23, 2017

Kelsey McGovern rejoins UMass women’s lacrosse as an assistant coach after starring for Minutewomen -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse looks to continue improving throughout 2017 season -

February 23, 2017

Spring Sports Special Issue 2017 -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse defense relying on senior leadership with new faces in starting lineup -

February 23, 2017

UMass softball fills holes left by seniors with freshmen for 2017 -

February 23, 2017

The Hart of the Lineup -

February 23, 2017

UMass softball prepares for a long, busy season in 2017 -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse defenseman Tyler Weeks makes his way back from ACL injury -

February 23, 2017

UMass launches energy sustainability workshops

n.campusStudents, faculty and staff gathered in the University of Massachusetts’ Mullins Center on Oct. 7 and 8 to attend the year’s kickoff sustainability workshops, brought to the campus by Johnson Controls, Inc. This effort was created in hopes of gathering people’s ideas on campus in terms of sustainability, which will in time be used to write the University’s Climate Action Plan.

At 11:30 a.m. on Oct. 8, the vicinity was full of chatter as the 30 people in attendance brainstormed on how to improve sustainability at UMass by contributing ideas to the top six needs out of the 55 they had voted were most important. Participants in the discussion placed comments through colored Post-it notes on the different issues displayed on easel paper throughout the room.

The comments included increasing the use of energy from renewable sources, reducing energy usage across all operations on campus, obtaining adequate funding for sustainability projects, reducing the levels of greenhouse gas emissions, maintaining healthy indoor air environments and providing effective occupant training on energy and environment.

Ideas ranged from creating solar panels on campus buildings, to increasing the use of energy from renewable sources, to temperature control and natural ventilation in buildings which would help sustain healthy indoor environments. Other participants mentioned applying for grants to gain funding for projects, as well as growing our own food and removing water bottles from campus to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

“There’s a lot of good discussion going on here,” said UMass sustainability coordinator Josh Stoffel. “It [the workshop] is really bringing us together as a unified group.”

At the end of the exercise, the information gathered was shared throughout the room and then collected for a feedback report that will be delivered to the University within a few weeks.

            The report will then be disseminated to all those who attended. The Environmental Performance Advisory Committee (EPAC), whose job is to evaluate where the campus is in terms of environmental sustainability and to then develop ways in which we can move forward, will work to implement the suggestions the group created in relation to the Climate Action Plan.

            This plan is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through different projects and initiatives that were received during the workshop.

            The group then moved to discuss the challenges and barriers that will be facing those working to create a more sustainable campus. After a long discussion and input from the majority of the room, a long list was formed illustrating obstacles in lack of funding, people resisting change and ways to keep enthusiasm up about maintaining a healthy environment.  Others suggested realigning the campus mission statement to include sustainability and creating a way for all members involved to remain integrated with each other, regardless of the project they may be involved in.

            This will be possible if there is a creation of an office of sustainability, according to those attending the workshops, which will bring all the different staff, faculty and students together so they can work collaboratively. Those who are researching new green technology or even educating students will be able to come together as one central effort towards the same initiative.

            As a closing activity, participants gave advice to each other on how to keep up their sustainability pact. People shared insights such as paying it forward, leading by example and never hold back to voice your own fears and challenges.

            Susan Personette, director of campus planning, expressed her opinion to the students in the room. 

“You are the reason we are here,” Personette said. “Get organized and use your voice.”

            At around 12:30 p.m., the workshop concluded and a representative from Johnson Controls, Inc., thanked all that attended, stating the report of the day’s efforts would soon be available.

            Stoffel was pleased to say that he thought the day was a huge success.

            “Not only were we able to collect thoughts and perspectives from many stakeholders across campus, but they interacted as well,” Stoffel said. “That’s the key to sustainability. To be able to bring people in groups that have different goals and initiatives to work on the common goal of sustainability.”

            The Student Government Association’s environmental committee Vice Chair Ali Alder also thought the workshop was successful and was surprised by the enthusiasm in the room.  However, she stressed that the ideas covered in the meeting should be followed by concrete actions if sustainability is to be reached on campus.

            “It’s easy to sit around and talk, but this needs to turn into something bigger than discussion,” Alder said. “I don’t feel as though we have accomplished anything yet, it’s just the first step.”

Jessica Sacco can be reached at jsacco@student.umass.edu

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