Striving to Achieve a Sustainable Spelman

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In its continuous effort to develop an ethic of conservation, Spelman College launched Sustainable Spelman Week Feb. 4. The campus community participated in an Energy Conservation Day and indulged in green smoothies on Green Treat Day. Presented in collaboration with the Sustainable Spelman Team, Spelman Student Government Association and the Bonner office of Community Service and Development, Sustainable Spelman Week is part of a broader environmental initiative that the College has been engaged in for years.

In 2011, the College became a signatory to the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. As a result, achieving a greener community is vital in the College’s Strengthening the Core Strategic Plan for 2015.

Yummy Green Smoothies

Led by Fatemeh Shafiei, Ph.D., chair, associate professor in the political science department and Arthur Frazier, director of Facilities Management and Services, a Spelman Sustainability Task Force was created to map out a a plan to promote  and encourage sustainability.

“The way that we as a society have been behaving has impacted our environment.  We see it through weather change, the effects on crops, pollution, a collection of waste and water waste,” said Frazier.  “I think that it’s important for the future of our children and our children’s children to correct our ways and end up with a better world in the end.”

The Suites, LEED Certified

Spelman has achieved major accomplishments through the Sustainable Spelman initiative, which is currently taking place throughout campus. The nearly 95-year-old Laura Spelman Rockefeller Hall was recently renovated and received a gold LEED certification.  Laura Spelman (2012) and The Suites (2008), a silver LEED-certified building, are extremely efficient in their usage of energy and environmentally friendly materials. The College has also released the Sustainable Spelman Climate Action Plan, which sets a goal for achieving carbon neutrality.

“We’ve reduced the energy use and water use in the Science Center through a program called Grants Degree, getting that building to work more efficiently,” adds Frazier. “We’ve changed lights in the parking deck and some of the external campus lights to far more efficient lights. This past summer, we changed a number of the lights around the Oval to LED lights, which last a lot longer and work more efficiently.”

In December, Frazier’s department received a Green Cleaning award from American College & University Magazine. Read more about the department’s efforts by clicking here.

The Sustainable Spelman initiative consists of faculty, staff and students collaborating on ideas and ways to make the campus better. Spelman Green Ambassador Ruth Wangia, C’ 2015, explains why she believes the Spelman community should care about being sustainable.

“Sustainability is a multifaceted concept and is designed for our individual lifestyles. In choosing to cut down the amount of meat — especially beef — that we consume, we choose a healthy lifestyle and the most effective way to lower our carbon emissions from our diet,” said Wagnia. “Turning off your TV set and lights when you are not in your room can save money. In practicing simple sustainable ideas such as reduce, reuse and recycle, students can help the College reach its Climate Neutrality Plan.”

Another Spelman Green Ambassador, Frances Roberts-Gregory, C’2013, believes maintaining healthy environmental practices are linked to moral and ethical values.

“I am interested in sustainability because for me, it is a moral and spiritual-based mantra that encourages me to conserve and preserve natural resources for future generations and descendants,” said Roberts-Gregory, a sociology and anthropology major, and environmental science/Spanish minor. “A sustainable lifestyle is a moral and ethical lifestyle that allows me to minimize my carbon footprint and respect Mother Earth, so it works for me.”

Spelman College fosters and encourages students to maintain a moral and ethical lifestyle though recycling bottles, cans, and materials that are composed of paper and plastic. After a Green Café and Green Market Friday on campus,  Spelman College will end Sustainable Spelman Week on Saturday, Feb. 9, by hosting the third annual Atlanta University Center RecycleMania event in partnership with other Atlanta University Center institutions. – Jasmine M. Ellis, C’2015, is a political science major.

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