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Sustainability advocates unite

BY LILY ABROMEIT | DECEMBER 09, 2013 5:00 AM

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Achieving a more sustainable campus has been an underlying goal at the University of Iowa for years, and University of Iowa Student Government senators took another step in an environmentally friendly direction Sunday with a Sustainability Summit.

Hosted by UISG, the summit was aimed at opening up discussion among UI officials, students, and community members as well as state leaders.

“It’s a great chance to showcase all the things the UI is doing [and] it’s also good to transition the university from providing [not only] education, but also advocacy,” said Jeffrey Ding, UISG’s sustainability liaison.

Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, who delivered one of two keynote speakers, said he hoped the event would encourage students to become more informed and active.

“I hope they make a commitment … and decide to commit their lives to the fight for sustainability,” he said.

Liz Christiansen, the director of the UI Office of Sustainability, said the university is on track for the 2020 sustainability goal, which was helped largely in fiscal 2013 by a 70 percent increase in recycling in UI Housing and Dining and a 43 percent increase on both the main campus and UI Hospitals and Clinics.

“I would like students to learn about the great things happening on campus, and we’d like them to bring [forth] more ideas,” she said. “A lot of these ideas have been put up by students, so I know students are interested in sustainability.”

Hogg called on students and community members to continue efforts in Iowa City to reach beyond the state borders.

“This goes to the core of our economy, our security and basic humanitarian issues,” Hogg said. “You have to be involved beyond your personal life.”

While Hogg pointed to advanced biofuels, urban revitalization, and water conservation as immediate solutions, Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, noted adaption and policymaking as the next vital steps.

“We need to make it easier for people and that’s where policy comes in,” he said, emphasizing relationships, communication, and connections as ways to implement change.

Hogg said while he thinks the UI has made large strides toward environmental policies, he still hopes to see more.

“The university has been making progress, [and] there are some great energy and solid waste accomplishments, but the magnitude of the challenge [means] the university needs to do a lot more,” he said. “And of course that’s not just [the UI], but everybody needs to do more.”

Sen. Bill Dix, R-Shell Rock, did not attend the summit but said he believes people of all ages are interested in taking part in conservation efforts.

“It’s just common sense,” he said. “It’s good for the economy, environment, and … country; all of those things contribute to a brighter future.”

Sen. David Johnson, R-Ocheyedan, also was not in attendance at Sunday’s summit but said there is a strong push in Iowa in terms of environmentally friendly efforts.

“There are things that every public entity should be doing as far as energy [conservation],” he said. “There are a lot of efforts out there … [and] no matter if it’s at the state or local level, there are efforts underway or should be underway.”

Ding said he thinks many initiatives and plans could be formed from ideas discussed at the summit, contributing to UISG’s continuous efforts to support sustainability efforts campus-wide.

“We’ll continue to market the Green Initiative Fund,” he said, in efforts to continue recycling campaigns and a possible summit involving the Tippie College of Business.


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