(Originally posted on October 2, 2013 on Brenau University's Sustainability Center Website. All rights reserved.)
Have you ever considered getting an electric car, but thought they’re too expensive? According to Hannah Solar Corporation, if you use the tax credit, a lease for a Nissan Leaf can be had for as little as $75 per month. This was just one bit of information among many gathered by a Brenau group who attended the statewide conference of the Georgia College Sustainability Network, held in Macon on Sept. 20.
“The round table session helped open my eyes on what needs to happen before a campus can claim a ‘sustainability’ effort at any level of earnestness”, said Robert Cuttino. Together with Rudi Kiefer, who serves on the Steering Committee of GCSN, and Karen Henman, he participated in the sessions that included topics as diverse as curriculum-building, water conservation on campus, promoting sustainability efforts among students, and a round-table discussion about what’s happening at the various public and private colleges in Georgia. The variety of themes was also apparent among the presenters, ranging from students attending Georgia College & State University and Emory University to faculty from UGA, Emory, GCSU, and Georgia Southern, as well as industry representatives.
“The presentation about Zero Waste Events at Emory has got me interested in investigating how to institute Zero Waste Events on our campus, and developing greater buy-in to sustainability”, said Henman. As the three members of Brenau’s Sustainability Advisory & Action Board (SAAB) attended different concurrent session, a whole list of projects and priorities evolved, including more recycling efforts, studying the tree canopy on campus, energy efficiency and more, which Henman put to paper and summarized for the committee. A busy agenda for the SAAB seems assured.
“It was great to meet the people in person that I’ve been teleconferencing with during the summer as we were building the conference agenda in the steering committee,” Kiefer said. “Eriqah Foreman-Williams of the National Wildlife Federation, who oversees the GCSN activities, was already on my ‘old friends’ list because she did such a marvelous job with the Farm-to-Table Conference in Statesboro last spring.
And as a UGA graduate, I was delighted to exchange views with the people from Athens, and learn what they are doing on the state’s flagship campus over there.”
Henman’s suggestions about a tree inventory and the campus canopy are certain to be followed up in the SAAB, together with other vegetation-related projects that are on the burner this year. A first step is a guest lecture by Joan Maloof, author of “Teaching the Trees” and “Among the Ancients”, scheduled for Wednesday, Oct.9 at 5 p.m. in Thurmond McRae Auditorium (still being finalized). More rounds of weeds removal and clean-up are also slated in the Bamboo Forest area of the Bioscience Field Station. With a design being prepared by Teri Nye, and plant selections by Jessi Shrout (both of the Science Dept.), a new teaching and research venue is emerging in the back of the Brenau Campus.
“Jessi and Teri had class responsibilities, so unfortunately they couldn’t come along to the Macon conference,” Kiefer said. “But the three of us – Karen, Robert and myself – brought back so many notes and ideas that we can stay busy for the entire academic year. The key to it all, agreed to by every participant, is student involvement in these projects. Just like last year, it’ll be a priority at Brenau.”