April 15, 2021
In April, we join the global community in celebrating Earth Month and Earth Day (April 22), and its intention to create greater awareness, discussion, and action around issues related to the environment and sustainability. At Creighton, we continue to make significant progress in this area, through academic and cocurricular programming, campus initiatives, and shared dialogue.
Today, I would like to update you on an exciting comprehensive campus sustainability initiative and parallel efforts in the Dominican Republic; renewed campus recycling efforts; expansion of our successful composting project; a new Planetary Health and Sustainability Task Force in the School of Medicine; our unique sustainable development seminar through the Kingfisher Institute and the Global Engagement Office; facility and printing news; environmental justice community orientations; and events for Earth Month.
Sustainable Creighton Initiative
In December 2019, I announced the formation of the Climate Change Task Force to help design an institutional action plan for climate change and make recommendations regarding achieving carbon neutrality on campus and tactics to get us there. That task force has been hard at work for more than a year, and today I am pleased to announce the launch of the Sustainable Creighton Initiative – a comprehensive strategy and commitment to caring for our common home.
The Sustainable Creighton Initiative consists of three phases: (1) benchmarking, (2) planning, and (3) implementation, monitoring, and responding. The Climate Change Task Force completed phase 1 in December and, in January, moved into phase 2. During this phase, to be completed by May 2022, the task force is reaching out to faculty, staff, and students to articulate a University sustainability strategic plan.
Task force members will be soliciting input from many different departments and offices, and I ask for your support and participation, as your contribution will be invaluable to these deliberations. Faithful to Creighton’s Jesuit, Catholic mission, and aligned with the Universal Apostolic Preferences embraced by the Society of Jesus, the Sustainable Creighton Initiative is actively investigating multiple scenarios to accelerate Creighton’s carbon neutrality commitment of 2050.
Sustainability in the Dominican Republic
In parallel with the Sustainable Creighton Initiative, the Institute for Latin American Concern (ILAC) and the Office of Sustainability Programs are launching a comprehensive sustainability program in the Dominican Republic. The goal of this program is to plan and implement steps to achieve carbon neutrality on the Santiago campus by 2025 and infuse all Creighton year-round programming with sustainability components. The program includes postgraduate and undergraduate internship opportunities and will prioritize connections with local organizations to advance environmental sustainability in the region.
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to ease associated custodial workloads, Facilities Management decided to suspend single-stream recycling pickup on campus in August. Through the diligence of faculty, staff, and students, COVID-19 positivity rates have remained low on campus, and recycling collection has slowly resumed – starting with the residence halls at the beginning of this semester. Recycling collection returned to the Skutt Student Center in April, and I am pleased to announce that recycling collection will recommence campus-wide on May 1.
I am grateful for the dedicated work of our custodial staff to keep our campus clean and safe. Please assist them by recycling correctly, and placing only the following empty, clean items in campus recycling (blue) bins: plastic containers labeled 1, 2, 3, or 5; flattened cardboard, clean paper, and paper milk/juice boxes; and aluminum and steel cans.
Glass can be recycled at the community recycling location at 17th and Burt streets – a partnership between Creighton, FCC Environmental, and the city of Omaha – and more detailed recycling information can be found online.
The Office of Sustainability Programs, Housing and Auxiliary Services, and the Creighton Students Union partnered to launch a post-consumer composting pilot program last semester. The pilot was a success, and now composting has expanded into a few residence halls (Deglman, Swanson, Davis, and Opus). Compost bins are still available outside of Brandeis Dining Hall for the campus to use. Please only place compostable materials into the green compost bins. Compostable materials include all food and paper products. Do not put any plastic, metal, or glass into these bins.
Impressively, we are donating 2,200 pounds of soil created from our food waste every month to local community gardens. The first donation went to a community garden at King Science and Technology Magnet Middle School.
School of Medicine Planetary Health and Sustainability Task Force
The School of Medicine, with leadership from students, has assembled a Planetary Health and Sustainability Task Force to assess how the school can better educate, operate, and advocate to improve understanding of the relationships between environmental and human health, and become better stewards of the resources needed to achieve its mission, while also reducing its collective ecological footprint.
Seminar on Sustainable Development
The Global Engagement Office and the Kingfisher Institute have partnered to create a unique seminar experience that will advance capacity-building across the University for regional and global partnerships and for projects related to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Ten faculty and staff participants have been chosen so far based on an application process and will develop project proposals for Creighton’s Common Home Project. If you are interested in participating in this seminar, please contact the Kingfisher Institute at kingfisher [at] creighton [dot] edu.
Facility and Printing News
Our Facilities Management team developed and implemented heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) programming modifications to maximize fresh-air exchange to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. The programmers also wrote algorithms to exchange information between the HVAC controls and the classroom scheduling software. These algorithms allow for our HVAC systems to run more efficiently based on room occupancy, reducing overall electricity consumption.
Starting this semester, all student printing devices are using TreeZero paper, the only 100% tree-free, carbon-neutral, multipurpose paper made from sugarcane waste fiber. Campus departments and divisions can purchase TreeZero paper from Payless Office Products through CUBuyPlus by typing TreeZero into the catalog search bar.
Environmental Justice Community Orientations
The Schlegel Center for Service and Justice and the Office of Sustainability Programs have partnered to incorporate environmental justice education into courses this semester. Through interviews with local organizations and in-class reflection, students in environmental science, sustainability studies, philosophy, biology, and justice and peace studies courses have connected their classroom curricula to real-world local sustainability issues.
Earth Month Events
Farmers Market … On April 23, from 4-7 p.m. at Anderson Plaza, the Creighton Students Union, the Office of Sustainability Programs, and GreenJays are cohosting Creighton’s Farmers Market, during which locally sourced food and other goods from registered vendors will be available for purchase. Additionally, students will be able to decorate compost bins and relax in the grass before finals.
tUrn week … Sustainable Creighton has joined with Santa Clara University for tUrn Week. During the week of April 19-23, tune in to hear headliners discuss climate crisis awareness and action, including the Rev. Roy Pereira, SJ, PhD, the Charles and Mary Heider Endowed Jesuit Faculty Chair; alumnus Dawaune Lamont Hayes, BA’16, founder of NOISE; and Creighton senior and Greenjays President Emily Burke.
I encourage you to participate in these and other Creighton Earth Month events (view a full listing). Please know, I am grateful to the many faculty, staff, and students who have worked so hard to make our campus and the wider community more sustainable, and I look ahead with great hope as together we care for our common home.
Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD