Lesson Plan: How to Go Green

How to Go Green

By Amanda Brandt, BA’14

What can we do to foster a more sustainable, cleaner, healthier world? We asked a few alumni and Creighton’s new sustainability coordinator, all of whom are passionately involved in environmental issues  — on the farm, on campus, in business — to share their best advice. Here’s what they told us.

Pick Your Passion – Catherine Queen, BSEvS’10

Queen, a manager of sustainable development at Danone­Wave, says finding your passion and focusing on that is the most authentic way to make a difference. Queen was named to the 2017 GreenBiz Global Top 30 Under 30 list for her work in corporate sustainability.

“If you’re passionate about being outdoors, that is the only motivation you need to help the planet.”

Educate and Advocate – Parker Revier, BA’16

After graduating with a degree in sustainable energy, Revier returned to Olivia, Minnesota, to support sustain­able farming practices at his family’s cattle and crop operations.

“You can’t fix a problem if you don’t know it exists. For true change to happen, there has to be a policy change. And unless we change the way that we are thinking about the problem, there’s not going to be that policy change.”

Research Your Purchases – Lt. Cmdr. Jereme Altendorf, BS’97

A Reserve officer in the U.S. Coast Guard, Altendorf works on a variety of issues relating to the environment and sustainability. In 2010, he worked as the federal resource coordinator managing the Coast Guard’s effort to clean up the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Altendorf previously worked for the Environmental Protection Agency.

He advises paying attention to what efforts companies are making in the area of sustainability.

“Do the research, and ask questions.” And, he says, focus on water and energy conservation and use, as well as consumer life cycle issues, such as how a product was manu­factured, packaged, and how well it can be reused or recycled.

Small Steps, Big Impact – Belyna Bentlage

Bentlage is Creighton’s full-time sustainability coor­di­nator. A graduate of Loyola University Chicago, she says small steps and commitments to sustainability in a variety of areas can add up to a big impact.

“Sustainability touches all parts of life,” Bentlage says, “something you might not think about at first glance.” That can include buying local produce at a farmer’s market (to reduce transportation distances and pack­ag­ing); being aware of energy usage (and remembering to turn off screens); thinking before you print; and taking public transportation or walking/biking as much as possible.

Making Decisions – Stasha Thomas, BS’16

While taking energy science classes at Creighton, Thomas says she learned to think about projects in a holistic way, considering how they can impact people and the environment. Now, she’s pursuing a Master of Architecture degree at Kansas State University, and aspires to become an architect who creates sustainably sourced and efficient spaces.

Thomas says living more sustainably takes a dedi­cated and diligent effort. It needs to be top-of-mind when making decisions. “Making conscious environ­mental decisions and passing the word on to others is what makes a difference.”

How Creighton Goes Green

The Princeton Review has consistently recognized Creighton as a “Green College,” and the Arbor Day Foundation has recognized the University with nine straight Tree Campus USA designations. Here’s a brief look at some of Creighton’s sustainability efforts.

Print Wise

Last academic year, thanks to more environmentally friendly printing processes, Creighton saved an estimated 5.3 million sheets of paper, 635 trees and more than 540,000 gallons of water — while realizing a nearly 60,000-pound reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

Native Plants

Creighton serves as a demonstration site for working with native plants through an affiliation with the Nebraska statewide arboretum.

Major Focus

One of the first Catholic universities to begin offering a degree program in environmental science more than 25 years ago, Creighton has since added degree programs in sustainable energy science and sustainability, both of which offer majors and minors.


Constructed by energy technology students in partnership with Omaha Public Power District, two campus sculptures harness wind and solar energy and serve as charging stations for students to power electronic devices.

Energy Conservation

Since 2014, Creighton has been working with the local power company and two consulting companies on 10 energy conservation projects that are expected to save the University $1.5 million annually starting in 2018.