How can we implement sustainability? Let us count the ways.

By: Elizabeth Cherneff

How do we harness ideas for sustainable initiatives and turn them into realities on an urban campus like George Washington University’s? To start, just ask the students, staff and faculty who reside here.

On Friday January 29th, members of the university community pitched their plans to greenify GW at the GW Greenhouse, a community-wide forum organized by GW’s Office of Sustainability. After receiving more than one hundred ideas, the Office of Sustainability selected ten individuals to present alongside a graphic artist who recreated a visual diagram of the idea’s key components. Taking into account the overall benefits, costs, and impacts a sustainable investment would have at GW, each presenter offered a creative and unique solution to conserve water, enhance ecosystems or otherwise impact climate change.

The creativity didn’t stop at climate, either: GW graduate student Hina Ayub pitched her idea of promoting veganism in response to the meat industry’s heavy contribution to the global pollution. A simple and low-cost method, she suggested that adding more vegan dining options on college campuses had potential to bring universities more in line with sustainability goals. Masters candidate Margo Street emphasized a ‘green as second nature’ approach with the notion that environmental and community service components together can produce a deeper understanding of the green movement in the next generation of leaders. Even GW chemistry professor J. Houston Miller furthered the green discussion with his initiatives such as shower stations and on-campus benefits for GW bicyclists.

From reducing water footprints with the aid of visible filtration systems to partnering with other area non-profits on eco-friendly initiatives, today’s lively discussion proved that greenifying an urban campus is not only achievable, but vital for the future of the community. As part of an ongoing process, today’s GW Greenhouse session is the next step toward implementing GW’s first official Climate Action Plan, scheduled for unveiling in May of this year. Whether you’re committed to solar panel installation or reducing paper usage, there’s no limit to the discussion of sustainability at the George Washington University.

How do you move the Planet Forward? Tweet us @planet_forward or contribute to the conversation with your own story.