Sun. Jan 23rd, 2022

West Chester University, along with many other universities nationwide, will celebrate Campus Sustainability Day on Wednesday, Oct. 22. This represents the halfway point between Earth Day 2014 and Earth Day 2015.

While some people may treat every day like Earth Day, Sustainability Day presents an opportunity for the entire campus community to learn and engage in more sustainable ways to live.

President Weisenstein discussed his desire to make WCU a leader in green technology implementation, sustainable energy, and carbon footprint reduction. The University’s Strategic Plan and Climate Action Plan both have incorporated sustainability-related goals. Sustainability has become part of the WCU community’s identity, and Campus Sustainability Day provides an opportunity to embrace and celebrate our community.

One of the most significant highlights of Sustainability Day is the official decommissioning ceremony of the boiler plant. The ceremony will begin at 4 pm along North Campus Drive, on the lawn outside Goshen Hall.

WCU’s geothermal effort initiative has eliminated the need to burn coal to heat buildings and provide hot water. At one time, the North Campus smokestack was the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in Chester County. Geothermal is a much more efficient system for both heating and cooling, and has reduced WCU’s air pollutant emissions by almost half.

The University saves approximately $1 million annually, and expects to save over $18 million across a 15 year time period. The decommissioning of the coal-fired plant represents an important step towards WCU’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2025.

This is the “Year of Water” at WCU, and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. you can celebrate water in the Academic Quad. Several student organizations like E.A.R.T.H., Environmental Health, Net Impact, Slow Food Movement, and Students for Liberty have partnered with WCU dining services on the issues of water conservation and protection.

In addition to giveaways and contests, and an obligatory educational component, there will also be a bottled water taste test, edible aquifers, and a water pollution obstacle course. Water is arguably the most precious resource we have, but Water Day in the Quad promises to be interactive, fun, and informational for the entire WCU community.

Dr. John Moffitt, a theoretical geologist, paleontologist and astrophysicist, will deliver a keynote lecture entitled “The Extinction Event Happening Today” in Phillips Autograph Library. The reception begins at 6pm with light refreshments, and the keynote will start at 7pm.

Dr. Moffitt will discuss past extinction events as the context to discussing contemporary human environmental impact, including global warming and species loss. Dr. Moffitt will host a Q&A session, which should be a good opportunity to promote dialogue over catastrophic human impact.

The staff at the Francis Harvey Green library are also participating in celebration of Sustainability Day. Tables have been set up along the main floor displaying Dr. Moffitt’s books as well other work on extinction.

The Slow Movement Club is hosting “Popcorn in the Garden!” at 3 p.m. in the Outdoor Classroom, Laboratory and Demonstration Garden (OCLDG), located next to the Merion-Schmucker Science link. Corn, as well as other produce, has been organically grown all summer in the OCLDG. If you’ve ever wondered about GMOs, organic produce, or even just how to make your own popcorn, this is a great opportunity to learn about healthier, more sustainable, and perhaps even tastier ways to snack.

Professor Kate Stewart is displaying her ART 106’s drawings all week in the OCLDG. Prof. Stewart describes these drawings as “the products of students’ investigations of composition and space” in the outdoor space that the art is currently being displayed. Students not only developed their skills in observational drawing, but also researched the plant specimens that sparked their creativity and inspired their artwork.

The entire WCU community and friends are all invited to become involved in the Sustainability Advisory Council (SAC). The next SAC meetings are scheduled on Nov. 6 from 3:20-4:20 p.m. and Dec. 5 from 1-2 p.m. in the Phillips Memorial third floor boardroom.

All are also invited to take part in a large tree planting from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 25. Volunteers and supporters should meet at the entrance to the Gordon Natural Area on South Campus (Lot R).

Kristen B. Crossney, PhD is an associate professor in the department of geography and planning, and she is the Sustainability Advisory Council, Communications Subcommittee Chair.  She can be reached at KCrossney@wcupa.edu.

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