The GreenPace Committee Works Toward Sustainability

Sara Moriarty, Feature Editor

Pace does not have a “sustainability coordinator,” but it does have the GreenPace committee.

From teaching about sustainability to researching energy initiatives and government grants to fund those initiatives, members of the GreenPace committee and its seven subcommittees continuously work to make Pace’s campuses as sustainable as possible.

Members, including co-chair Michelle Land of the Pace Academy, are calling on students and faculty to get involved. The other co-chair of the committee is Melanie DuPuis, who is also the chair of the department of Environmental Studies.

GreenPace’s seven subcommittees each work on different projects involving the sustainability of campus.

The standing committee, appointed in 2008, meets quarterly (twice a semester) to discuss their various projects of the subcommittees.

This year, the theme is energy. Last year, the Pace Academy and GreenPace promoted the .007 water campaign. Different projects will reflect the theme of each year, but will always have the ultimate goal of creating a greener and more sustainable campus.

“Members of the committees represent a cross-section of the University,” Land said.

The standing committee and subcommittees span different disciplines and operations at Pace including transportation, building, campus academics, and more.

The Environmental Center also possesses a leading role in helping to develop and implement the ideas and actions of the main committee and subcommittees.

Students and faculty do not have to be involved with academic environmental programs on campus to get involved with GreenPace, however. Anyone with an interest in initiating and implementing change on campus is welcome.

“We need students to do research and proposal drafting,” said Land, who is also a professor of this semester’s Environmental Clinic.

Strategic planning is needed in order to make the ideas of GreenPace members happen, and people must do that planning and research to increase the sustainability of Pace’s campuses.

A recent example of a sustainability project in action took place at Pace Law School when an application for NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) was submitted to receive possible funding for a solar canopy over a parking lot at the school.

“The GreenPace Committee gave me the opportunity to be directly involved with the sustainability initiatives on campus,” said GreenPace member and sophomore environmental studies major Haylei Peart. “Pace is big on student involvement and I was really happy to be able to find something directly related to the environment and overall sustainability.”

Peart, GreenPace’s first summer intern, is currently working on a program to allow students to be “eco-representatives.” This would be a way for students to be sustainability advocates and take charge over executing and representing various projects.

“I’ve learned a lot since starting my internship with GreenPace this summer; they give students the opportunity to voice their opinions and speak to those with power to make changes to the campus,” Peart said.

The changes that have been made since GreenPace was created in 2008 have earned Pace a Bronze STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System) rating by AASHE (The Association for the Advancement for Sustainability in Higher Education) in 2011.

GreenPace committee members are hoping for a higher rating, which should be announced in the coming months.  The ratings are done every three years by AASHE, and, according to Land, provide a comprehensive picture of what is being done to achieve sustainability in higher education. The survey from AASHE even takes into consideration efforts by universities to train and inform faculty about sustainability initiatives.

Because of the comprehensiveness of the AASHE survey, GreenPace members look to AASHE and the STARS program as a guideline to continue improving their efforts and informing the campus community of their efforts to create a greener, more sustainable campus.

Anyone interested in getting involved with GreenPace can contact Michelle Land at [email protected]  The next meeting will be on Mon., Nov. 17 at 2 p.m. in room 100 of Goldstein Academic Center.