Feb. 29, 2012
Garvey, Other Presidents Pledge to Make D.C. Most Sustainable U.S. City
President John Garvey and Mayor Vincent Gray shake hands at the signing ceremony.
Catholic University President John Garvey and the leaders of eight other Washington, D.C., higher education institutions pledged their commitment Feb. 29 to an initiative by Mayor Vincent Gray — the first of its kind nationally — to make D.C. the most sustainable city in America.
At a ceremony at American University, Garvey signed Gray’s College and University Sustainability Pledge (CUSP), committing Catholic University to reduce its consumption of energy and water on campus, among other initiatives.
“Stewardship of the environment is an important part of our mission at The Catholic University of America,” said President John Garvey. “In fact we were the first university in Washington to purchase wind power and we created the largest solar energy system in the D.C. area in 2009 with the installation of more than 1,000 solar panels.
“We continue to be committed to fulfilling our pledge with a number of projects — including a solar design competition for students — that will enhance our sustainability program on campus and support Mayor Gray’s initiative.”
No other U.S. city has created such a partnership between its entire higher education sector and its local government to advance sustainability, according to Gray, who described the signing as “historic.” He said, “Right now, D.C. is one of the top 10 green cities in North America. I want it to be number one in the nation.”
The D.C. government and the universities have pledged to implement their commitments by Dec. 31. As a sector in Washington, D.C., the universities are already leading in the area of sustainability, according to the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area.
As part of the pledge, Catholic University has committed to:
- Reducing energy use in campus buildings by 5 percent per square foot
- Purchasing or generating at least 5 percent of total energy consumed from renewable resources
- Reducing drinking water use by 5 percent per square foot
- Reducing stormwater runoff by 5 percent
- Maintaining or increasing by at least 5 percent the number of commuting trips by CUA community members who bike, ride the Metrorail, etc., rather than driving alone in a car
|Howard University President Sidney Ribeau and Garvey share a laugh.
Among other initiatives already in place, Catholic University has reduced its carbon emissions by 50 percent through the purchase of renewable energy certificates in the past two years. CUA also operates 1,500 solar panels that displace 450 tons of carbon dioxide annually.
Challenging its students academically, CUA sponsored a contest in 2011 for students to design a solar-powered picnic table. The winning entry’s design was constructed and is in operation outside the University’s student center.
This year students are designing a solar-powered shelter for the University shuttle to encourage people to take the Metro to CUA and then ride the shuttle. A CUA-led team — the first-ever from Washington, D.C. — is competing in the 2013 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.
The presidents of the University of the District of Columbia and of American, Corcoran College of Art + Design, Gallaudet, Georgetown, George Washington, Howard, and Trinity Washington universities also signed the pledge.
Chris Vetick, Catholic University’s assistant director of grounds maintenance who attended the ceremony with several other members of the CUA community, said the pledge signing was a significant milestone for those who work on sustainability projects at the University.
“Our sustainability efforts at Catholic University have a huge impact on the CUA community as a whole and on students in particular who are the next generation of environmental stewards,” Vetick noted.
The pledge is an agreement by the schools to pursue a range of sustainability measures related to energy use and buildings, green education, transportation, waste reduction, grounds maintenance, purchasing, and the management and reporting of progress on the work. Highlights of the CUSP commitments include:
- Achieving LEED certification on all new construction and major renovations
- Purchasing renewable energy
- Employing D.C. residents in positions directly related to sustainability
- Providing students with sustainability related service learning opportunities in the District.
- Reducing stormwater runoff
- Using tap water in place of bottled water
- Providing institutional funding and/or administrative support for faculty who engage in sustainability related teaching.
- Implementing LEED compliant cleaning programs, policies and procedures