Campus partnerships raise awareness of Elon sustainability efforts
The Office of Sustainability offers programs and resources for students, faculty and staff who want to make a positive impact on the environment by changing behaviors, conducting research and educating peers about the way human activities affect the planet.
By Brittany Barker ‘19
A record number of Elon students, faculty and staff toured the Loy Farm on South Campus this fall in partnership with the Office of Sustainability, which is growing the number of collaborations it creates with university groups that also share an interest in supporting healthy people, a healthy planet and prosperity.
More than 700 people have toured the farm since August to learn about the sustainable food production, biology research and building design taught there by faculty. Just steps away is a solar farm with nearly 10,000 photovoltaic panels installed earlier this year to generate enough electricity to power about 415 homes serviced by Duke Energy.
The Office of Sustainability has coordinated with professors whose programs operate on the farm to raise the visibility of their academic offerings. At the same time, the office is collaborating with departments elsewhere at Elon to educate the community about sustainable practices. Some examples include:
- In January, Physical Plant will implement single-stream recycling where all recyclable materials - plastic bottles, paper, aluminum cans and more - can be placed into one bin.
- One hundred and eighty students took part this fall in a “Sustainable Living Lesson” taught by students who serve as Eco-Reps for the Office of Sustainability.
- Since the program first started, more than 100 people have participated in ‘Creating a More Sustainable Workplace Session’ hosted by the Office of Sustainability.
- In coordination with the Isabella Cannon Global Education Center, the office developed a tool for students planning to study abroad to calculate their carbon footprint and see the carbon they would conserve by participating in certain actions for a semester.
Elaine Durr serves as director of sustainability for the university, leading the Office of Sustainability alongside Jessica Bilecki, the office’s education and outreach coordinator. Both staff members recommend that students consider taking the Sustainability Pledge, available on the office’s website, and that they take time to read the Sustainable Living Guide and/or Green Tips for ideas on what habits the Elon community can improve upon.
Other ways for students to be involved in promoting sustainability is through Phoenix Cup competitions, the Eco-Reps program, the Sustainable Living Learning Community in the Colonnades Neighborhood, through internships, and by joining student groups such as Elon Outdoors, Campus Kitchen at Elon University and the Sierra Club.
Besides participating in the classroom and getting involved with clubs and organization, Office of Sustainability leaders point out that students can always improve the sustainability of Elon.
“Daily habits. Take responsibility for your own actions and model the behavior you want to see,” Bilecki said. “Then let your peers know why you do what you do, in a non-judgmental way.”