In an effort to become environmentally friendly, the Howard University Environmental Society and the Office of Sustainability have partnered together to decrease Howard’s carbon footprint and increase the university’s recycling initiatives.

For years, Howard University has had a problem with executing environmentally friendly programs. Michael Harris, Vice President of  Administrative Services and a member of the University Sustainability Council believes, “implementation is key”. “Things have been in talks for too long, it is now time to act.” The Howard University Environmental Society led by junior Falon Shackelford, has been actively trying to implement environmentally friendly programs and initiatives into the university master plan for the past two years.

One of their major accomplishments includes the university-wide recycling initiative. The recycling initiative encourages students to recycle their waste and dispose plastic and paper into designated bins located throughout campus. The initiative has proven to be most successful in the residence halls. There has even been a recycling competition included in the annual dorm competition “ResFest”. “Recycle Mania” is a competition in which all of the university dormitories compete to collect the most recycled products.

Components such as Recycle Mania offer an alternative form of encouraging environmental protection. Another initiative that has grown in popularity on campus is bicycling. The Society of Civil Engineers has collaborated with the environmental society to evaluate bicycling on campus. They offer a free bike repair service at their bike shop located on the 4th floor of the Louis K. Downing Building.  The bike shop is open every Saturday at noon.

For the 2011-12 academic year, the society has set a list of goals and initiatives to accomplish. They include:

1. Retrofit buildings – install smart sensors in university buildings to automatically turn on cooling systems and light switches.

2. Rooftop Solar Panels and Solar Water Heating – install solar panels in campus buildings and solar water panels on dormitory roofs to produce electricity and warm water.

3. Parking Lot Solar Trees – install solar panels in parking lots to supply electricity.

4. Campus Bio-diesel Fuel and Compost – use waste cooking to produce bio-diesel fuel on campus to power university vehicles.

5. Green Major & Career Fair -introduce students to job opportunities in the green field.

If successfully implemented, the programs will help the university save money, improve the sustainability component of campus life, and create a positive image for the university. Student involvement in these programs will provide training and work experience for students aspiring to attain a green career. Lastly, green energy will provide blue-collar jobs to district residents, which will decrease the local unemployment rate and improve the campus’ reputation and community relations. The Howard University Environmental Society plans to meet with university staff on a regular basis to force implementation.

For information about the Howard University Environmental Society, visit their Facebook page:  “Howard University Environmental Society”.

Danielle Lomax
Howard University
B.A. Candidate 2014
Public Relations/Sports Management