Northwestern has much to learn from Loyola University on sustainability, NU students say

Olga Gonzalez Latapi, Reporter

Even though Northwestern is quickly becoming one of the greenest campuses nationwide, students can look to their peers at Loyola University Chicago, who have organized a farmer’s market and manage an off-campus farm as a model of higher level of sustainability.

There are many sustainable initiatives already set into motion at NU, but students involved with green efforts on campus said there is a need for more programs. University President Morton Schapiro told The Daily on Tuesday that he will raise the issue of sustainability in future meetings to ensure NU remains one of the top universities in sustainability.

“I want to make (Northwestern) as absolutely sustainable as possible,” Schapiro said.

SEED co-chair Amanda Myers said one of the latest NU sustainable initiatives — banning the sale of plastic water bottles — has already been successful at nearby Loyola. The ban, which Loyola’s student body approved in the spring, was the result of a two-year campaign by the school’s Student Environmental Alliance.

“I’d say that this is an effort where we can learn a lot from Loyola,” the Weinberg senior said.

Loyola sustainability specialist Gina Lettiere said their sustainability programs aim to improve three aspects: curriculum, infrastructure and student and faculty response to green initiatives.

GREEN House president Henrik Westerkam, a Weinberg sophomore, said one of Loyola’s most impressive programs is the planned construction of various new buildings, such as two first-year student residence halls and a new greenhouse.

Another program that can be expected from Loyola within the next year is the launching of a new Institute of Urban Environmental Sustainability, which will bring together the environmental science department and the Center for Urban Environmental Research and Policy to develop new academic programs in sustainability. Lettiere said Loyola is aiming for the new building to achieve LEED certification, joining two other LEED silver buildings on the campus.

For the last five years, the University has aimed for LEED gold or silver certification when constructing new buildings, University spokesman Alan Cubbage said.

Michael Narea, co-project manager of Pura Playa, which is leading the effort to ban plastic bottles at NU, said it is only a matter of time before the administration supports this and other green initiatives.

“With the new Office of Sustainability and the newly instated ASG Sustainability Committee, I believe that NU is on its way to becoming a more sustainable campus,” the McCormick senior said.

Back at Loyola, Lettiere said the school’s sustainable efforts have developed from involvement of all sorts of people invested in the campus.

“It’s all working together to ensure that students, faculty and staff change their behaviors to use resources wisely,” she said.