Sustaining the Campus Beautiful

Sustainability is much more than recycling or preserving trees.
 
Hired as EKU’s sustainability manager in the summer of 2015, Patrick McKee is responsible for the development, implementation and facilitation of comprehensive and integrated sustainability efforts, including program development and management, education and outreach, and the launch of campus-wide initiatives that promote environmental stewardship.
 
Bottom line: as an organizational strategist, he is helping position the University to become a leader in sustainability in higher education.
 
“Sustainability,” he said, “is not a radical idea, nor should it be perceived as a political issue. It just makes sense. It’s a practical approach toward making decisions that limit our negative impacts on the environment, while at the same time improving social equity and economic prosperity for everyone. Sustainability is really about meeting the resource needs of the present without compromising the ability for future generations to meet those very same needs.
 
“There’s a reason why over half of the Fortune 500 companies are committed to adopting sustainability as part of their core values. It’s profitable!”
 
Last fall, EKU President Michael Benson signed the Second Nature Climate Commitment, signaling the University’s resolve to develop a plan for achieving carbon neutrality. “It’s important to sign a document, but our actions speak louder than words,” he said, citing EKU’s efforts to tear down old buildings in favor of more energy-efficient ones, plant more trees and create more open spaces.
 
McKee said Eastern is organizing its sustainability strategy around three key areas: Campus, Community and Classroom. The University’s active approach to reducing its environmental footprint and preparing students to be good environmental stewards is reflected on many fronts, including but not limited to:
 
* the use of energy-efficient technologies in the construction of high-performance, sustainable buildings. For example, EKU’s New Hall, a residential facility that opened in 2013, was the first residence hall on a public university campus in Kentucky to earn LEED Gold status. (LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.)
 
* a reduction of vehicular emissions through the “EKU Rides” ride-sharing program, improvements in public transportation around campus and a concerted effort to provide a more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly campus.
 
* diversion of as much waste as possible from landfills while also reducing water consumption and protecting waterways from storm-water runoff.
 
* a Green Purchasing Policy mandating that the environmental impacts of all purchases, including cleaning supplies, be considered before procurement.
promoting the inclusion of local and organic foods in campus cafeterias.
 
* educational efforts on and off campus.
 
Students can get involved by joining “Green Crew,” a student organization focused on promoting sustainable practices on campus and in the community, or simply by participating in events and programs. 
 
“It matters to EKU because we recognize the impacts our actions have on the world around us,” McKee said. “We recognize that it’s going to take leadership to find more sustainable solutions to our needs, and are in position to inspire and educate others to also become leaders.”
 
For more information, visit sustainability.eku.edu.