What is a college’s impact on the environment? This question will be addressed by a panel of experts, including Dr. Kevin Fletcher, executive director for Audubon International, at a symposium at 3 p.m. Friday, March 25, at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. The talk, “Sustainability – Living Responsibly,” is part of a weeklong celebration in St. Mary’s City that includes Maryland Day and the inauguration of the college’s new president, Dr. Joseph Urgo.
Also furthering St. Mary’s environmental efforts, the college opens its new Healing Garden near the Health Center and will conduct a ribbon-cutting ceremony to initiate the St. Mary’s Arboretum Association. Trees are being planted across campus, students will gather to clean up the campus, and packets of Black-Eyed Susans (the state flower) will be handed out. Through the rest of the semester, there will be public sessions on making rain barrels and a tour of habitats, and a walking tour of identified trees will be available.
The college has a long history of environmentally oriented campus improvements:
- In 2007, the college completed its first energy performance contract, reducing annual consumption of electricity by 16.5%, heating oil by 24%, and water by 35%. Furthermore, the student body also provided half of the funding for the installation of a geothermal heat pump system under the new James P. Muldoon River Center.
- In 2008, St. Mary’s became the first college in Maryland to be awarded the Certification in Environmental Planning from the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program. The college is also the site of one of two pilot programs for green buildings funded by the state of Maryland, with Goodpaster Hall receiving LEED Silver certification.
- In 2010, the college was one of four Maryland Green Registry Leadership Award Winners.
- And this January, St. Mary’s created a plan to achieve climate neutrality by 2020, committing to reducing its baseline greenhouse gas emissions by 30% and offsetting the remainder through off-campus investments.
“Being pro-active about our ecological footprint is a trait shared by students as well as faculty and staff at St. Mary’s,” said Urgo. “Sustainability is a key element of the college’s mission and our curriculum − as well, many of our student-led activities promote living responsibly.”