Summer 2009 | Caring for creation
An environment of excellence
President Thomas Kunkel
Lew Pullen dropped by my office the other day.That’s not unusual, because Lew – our manager of mechanical systems – comes by quite a bit. And usually when he does, he has a new idea in mind.
This time, Lew reported on an exciting innovation he’d just seen: a state-of-the-art, clean incinerator that has the potential to dramatically reduce the waste we typically haul off to a landfill. It would be a major investment for us – the price tag Lew quoted made my heart skip, and not in the good way. But I’m intrigued, and in any case I’m delighted Lew is out there scouting the possibilities.
This issue of St. Norbert College Magazine highlights the many efforts the campus is making to be a responsible steward of our energy and environmental resources.
A related story about Lew on page 11 describes him as a kind of “treasure hunter” of energy savings, and that is most apt. Certainly I’ve never met anyone who brings such infectious zeal to the cause of sustainability as Lew does.
Indeed, Lew generates so much energy himself it’s a shame we can’t figure how to get the excess onto the power grid.
With Lew and other like-minded campus citizens leading the way, St. Norbert has taken dozens of steps to reduce energy use and waste.These range from low-tech (eliminating trays from the cafeteria, which reduces water consumption and food waste) to high-tech (we participate in an innovative Integrys program in flex-time power usage).
Lew personally has changed countless light bulbs around campus to energy-efficient varieties, and he’s even investigating wind-power options for us.
Of course, such measures are practical – energy efficiency improves our bottom line. But “greening” the campus is also the right thing to do, an activity consistent with our Norbertine commitment to the larger community, and with the Catholic commitment to social justice for all.
We also believe it’s imperative that higher education be in the sustainability forefront.
As every parent knows, if you don’t practice what you preach, the lesson is lost.
That’s why I’m proud that St. Norbert College, thanks to my predecessor
Bill Hynes, was an early signatory to the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. Under this nationwide effort, campuses measure their “carbon footprint” – the energy they traditionally have expended to function
– and then commit to ways to significantly reduce that impact.The idea is to become, in time, carbon-neutral.
Our participation in the Climate Commitment is spearheaded by one of our most talented faculty members, geography professor and environmentalist
Mark Bockenhauer. He has been ably assisted by such colleagues as
Sr. Sally Ann Brickner, longtime director of our Peace and Justice Center, and recent graduate
Stacy Szczepanski, who led our eight-week Recylemania program.
And needless to say, Lew Pullen is right there with them.
The challenge of weaning ourselves from energy addiction is daunting. But I have no doubt that, with Lew and his friends on the case, St. Norbert College will get there – and maybe, in the process, help show others the way.