February 18, 2008
By Sarada Jailal, Public Relations and Marketing Intern
Editor, Temple Column
Temple University Ambler is often referred to as the University’s green campus.
The campus purchases 200,000-kilowatt hours per year from wind energy provider Community Energy Inc. The campus Landscape Arboretum includes a working example of green roof technology and an award-winning sustainable wetland garden. In 2005, the campus won the Department of Environmental Protection’s “Rush to Recycle Challenge” collecting nearly 6,600 pounds of recyclables in a single day.
Home to Ambler College, the Ambler campus is a living laboratory of sustainable initiatives for students in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture and the Department of Community and Regional Planning. As the home of the Center for Sustainable Communities, Ambler is also at the forefront of a wide variety of sustainable research initiatives and is host to one of the largest annual celebrations of Earth Day in the region.
In 2007, Temple University Ambler added another facet to its longstanding approach to promoting sustainability and environmental stewardship for today and tomorrow — the Ambler Campus Sustainability Council (ACSC).
Comprised of faculty, staff, and students representing all stakeholder groups at Ambler campus, the ACSC acts as an advising body “in the development of sustainability initiatives on the Ambler campus with respect to the built environment, environmental management, programs, services, and university policies.”
According to Dr. Lynn Mandarano, ACSC Co-chair and Assistant Professor of Community and Regional Planning (CRP), the ACSC, works to identify national innovations “in the context of sustainable development and assesses Temple University’s participation in and readiness for sustainable development initiatives” — defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without comprising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.” The Council then makes recommendations to the Dean on priority initiatives and implementation strategies.
Since its inception — its development was approved by the Ambler Collegial Assembly in November 2006 and the organization held its first meeting in February 2007 — the ACSC has spearheaded to successful clean-up initiatives of the historic Shoemaker House, was an integral part of EarthFest 2007, recommended to the Dean alternative energy and energy conservation initiatives for the campus, and developed its own home on the Ambler campus Web site — www.temple.edu/ambler/acsc/about_council.html.
“Our primary goal is to get a wide variety of stakeholders that live, work, and use the campus to become directly involved in the decision-making processes of the council,” said Mandarano “I want it to be more than members on the list — there needs to be active participation by the entire campus community.”
To this end, the ACSC has formed several working groups of volunteers from all aspects of campus life. Additionally, the ACSC has held two “Campus Visioning Workshops,” one in May 2007 geared toward faculty and staff and the most recent program on February 4 geared toward students.
The Sustainability Council also holds monthly meetings on the open to everyone on the final Wednesday of each month in Learning Center Room 301, from 10 to 11:30 am — the next meeting will be held Wednesday, February 27.
“Some of the issues we are exploring are how we can make the campus less dependent on cars; more energy efficient; investing wisely in our resources on campus, including our faculty, students, staff and landscape; and how we can restore natural systems, improve housing, and promote a healthy social ecology ensuring that everyone’s voice is heard,” said Mandarano. “During our first visioning session, a brainstorming session resulted in more than
90 suggested ideas to forward the goal of sustainability on campus.”
Some of the suggestions from the two visioning workshops included improving recycling awareness and adding more recycle containers around campus, modifying and optimizing the campus shuttle schedule, exploring solar and geothermal energy for the campus, increasing the campus’ purchase of wind energy, developing a “ride sharing” bulletin board, adding bike racks to shuttle busses and on campus, converting buses and maintenance equipment to clean-burning fuels, updating temperature regulation in the campus buildings, adding pervious paving to the parking lots, doing away with the use of Styrofoam in the Dining Center, and determining
“a baseline for energy usage on campus,” among many other possibilities for improving campus sustainability.
“Our mission statement is to inspire collaboration and action that moves Temple University Ambler toward becoming a model of sustainability and environmental responsibility,” said Mandarano.
Ryan Gillon, a student representative on the ACSC and Ambler Campus Student Government Association Vice President of Academic Affairs became involved in the Council to “help the campus support sustainability.”
“I’m particularly interested in the energy conservation initiatives and getting students directly involved,” said Gillon, who was one of a few dozen students, faculty, and staff to take part in the February 4 workshop.
Brenda Sullivan, who is engaged in a directed studies program with Arboretum Director Jenny Rose Carey for the spring semester, said it is important to “expand what’s already being done on campus.”
“I see the momentum starting and it’s great to see that on campus,” she said. “Our students are hands-on learners; we are in the discipline of affecting change.”
Early ACSC projects have been the “first initiatives of a broader effort” to highlight sustainability issues, according to Dr. Deborah Howe, Chair of the Department of Community and Regional Planning, who made the initial proposal to Ambler Collegial Assembly to develop the Sustainability Council, based on her experiences in developing a similar group while she was a county planner in New York.
“The Environmental Management Council was a large group that had a strong interest in the environment,” said Howe. “The campus needs a group to speak on its behalf in relation to similar environmental issues. These are good first steps and this is a great beginning, but there’s a lot more that needs to be done.”
For more information or to join the Ambler Campus Sustainability Council, contact Dr. Lynn Mandarano at 267-468-8304 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
James F. Duffy contributed to this report.