On Wednesday, Nov. 16, the President of the University, the Rev. Robert Niehoff, S.J, signed a national pledge for climate change. The pledge involves a number of different colleges including John Carroll and calls for schools’ commitments to be energy efficient, as well as to educate their students on sustainability.
The document, the last page of which Niehoff signed, promises to address the social environmental challenges facing local and global communities through the Ignatian model of experience, reflection and action, curricular and co-curricular programming and by deepening of the University’s commitment to sustainability. It also promises to conserve natural resources and reduce consumption, waste, energy usage and our overall carbon footprint. Finally, the pledge commits to identifying, promoting and implementing sustainable practices in all aspects of the University’s operations.
Among those in attendance at John Carroll University’s Nov. 16 sustainability committee meeting were professor in the biology department, Rebecca Drenovsky, Facilities Scheduling Manager Rory Hill and the Associate Vice President for Facilities, Carol Dietz.
Dietz, who has chaired the Committee since its 2010 launch, explained, “John Carroll University is signatory to the American Campuses on Climate Pledge along with 217 other colleges and universities, representing over 3.3 million students across the country,” Dietz continued. “These schools include religious institutions, historically black colleges and universities, women’s colleges, technical schools, community colleges, all schools in the Ivy League and a variety of public and private universities located across more than 40 states.”
The campaign, modeled after the American Business Act on Climate Change precedes the upcoming United Nations Climate Negotiations in Paris, at which world leaders will seek to reach an agreement concerning an international clean energy and climate action agenda. During this time, signatories to the Climate Pledge hope that their chain of eco-friendly initiatives on campuses across America will impact the decisions the United Nations ultimately makes with regard to this issue.
It is not only universities that are actively striving to enhance their efforts to go green; massive conglomerate corporations such as Berkshire Hathaway, Walmart, UPS, Apple, Coca-Cola, Google and Microsoft have all set ambitious targets for climate action in promotion of a low-carbon, sustainable future.
As a Jesuit institution, John Carroll’s mission statement is to inspire individuals to excel in learning, leadership and service in the region and in the world. John Carroll is in its tenth semester of tangible endeavors to improve its score on the Sustainability Report Card released by the Sustainable Endowments Institute each year.
In addition to the University Sustainability Committee, JCU has worked in recent years to realize its vision for an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable campus and community through increased recycling and reduced waste, the use of biodegradable containers in the Schott Dining Hall and the installment of bike racks and the creation of a bike co-op.
In accordance with the goals of this newest “green” measure, Niehoff has pledged John Carroll to not only reduce its utility consumption and campus carbon footprint, but also to educate students and the public on the “benefits of renewables and low-carbon energy” through a number of programs and initiatives. Students can expect to see an “increase in the number of recycling and water bottle refill stations in academic and administrative buildings on campus,” as well as an “increase the use of native plants in campus gardens to reduce water and fertilizer use” in the coming semesters.