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April 1, 2010

Senate Matters

Blue and Gold goes green

Attilio Favorini

This semester the usual University Senate plenary session will be incorporated into a sustainability festival, scheduled for April 8 and 9 in the William Pitt Union. The festival offers the occasion for both a reckoning and a celebration of sustainability efforts occurring in every corner of the campus.

April’s “Blue, Gold and Green” event is sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the Purchasing Department, both active participants in an ongoing campus forum for sustainability concerns initiated in 2007, when an ad hoc Senate recycling committee metamorphosed into the sustainability subcommittee of the Senate’s plant utilization and planning committee. The sustainability subcommittee has been holding three or four meetings each semester, inviting representatives of the many responsibility centers whose activities impact climate change, energy use, pollution, green design and other policies and practices that contribute to or detract from the judicious management of the environment.

Recent discussions at the sustainability subcommittee meetings, which are open to the University community, have considered ideas such as a “green fund” for sustainable campus practices underwritten by a student activity fee; a “green gifts” campaign to reach environmentally engaged alumni; a “green dorm” living and learning center, and an interactive sustainability web site to stimulate awareness and exchange on sustainability issues. Members of the University community interested in attending the sustainability subcommittee meetings should ask Lori Molinaro,, to add their names to the subcommittee’s distribution list.

The sustainability subcommittee has heard from Facilities Management, Food Services, the environmental studies program, the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor, Institutional Advancement, Residence Life, Free the Planet, Engineers for a Sustainable World and other student environmental organizations, to name just a few. Subcommittee members regularly interact with counterparts at other local universities, the sustainability coordinator of UPMC, the environmental committee of the Oakland Business Improvement District, the Pittsburgh Climate Initiative, the Board of Trustees property and facilities committee and many other such organizations. As a result of the subcommittee’s efforts, the University now maintains an attractive web site,, on sustainability issues. In addition, the University Senate adopted a statement on sustainability in 2008 that originated with the sustainability subcommittee.

Merely reciting the roster of interested constituents suggests the challenges involved in meeting the Senate statement on sustainability’s charge to “identify, implement, communicate and coordinate practices that preserve and promote efficient use and conservation of energy, water and other resources and increase promotion of conservation efforts to the University community.”

The April “Blue, Gold and Green” event is designed not only to inform the campus about successes such as the “RecycleMania” campaign and a growing number of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certifications for campus buildings, but also to exchange ideas about goal-setting and coordination of sustainability efforts. On April 8, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., there will be ongoing events, including a supplier showcase of green products, a “Sustain-a-Bowl” awarding of prizes to student organizations for sustainable demonstrations and a bicycle-building competition. The day’s activities will be capped with the Heinz Distinguished Lecture delivered by Stuart L. Hart, an expert on sustainability and development.

Also on April 8 will be the centerpiece event of the festival, the sustainability subcommittee’s panel, “Sustainability at Pitt.” The panel is scheduled noon-2 p.m. and will afford ample opportunity for questions and suggestions. A complementary lunch will be served; if you plan to attend the lunch session, please RSVP to

The panel will include:

• Ward Allebach,adjunct professor in the Department of Geology and Planetary Sciences, who will discuss issues that students are focused on within the environmental studies program.

• Bernard Goldstein, professor of environmental and occupational health, who will provide a historical perspective on the environmental movement and will discuss personal responsibility in promoting sustainability.

• Jodi Ludovici, general manager of Sodexho, who will discuss sustainable policies and practices that Sodexho and Dining Services have in place on campus.

• Allison Robinson, director of environmental initiatives at UPMC, who will discuss the structure and aims of UPMC sustainability initiatives and how to move the sustainability agenda forward in a large, complex organization.

• Laura Zullo, senior manager in Facilities Management, who will discuss how sustainability is figured into its projects and will provide an update on LEED certification.

The second day, April 9, will include a student sustainability symposium and a sustainable career forum. For a fuller description of “Blue, Gold and Green,” go to

Attilio Favorini, a faculty member in theatre arts, is chair of the Senate’s sustainability subcommittee.

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