Sustainability: Essential the Webster University’s Future
From building design to recycling, from buying food locally to landscaping design, Webster University is dedicated to practicing and teaching responsible environmental citizenship.
The University’s mission of "educating students to be global citizens” includes instilling in them thoughtful respect for the environment and modeling responsible environmental behavior.
Building Design and Sustainable Renovations
The new academic building on Garden Avenue, scheduled to open in Spring of 2012, will meet the standards for LEED certification (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design). This internationally recognized certification provides third-party verification of a building’s design for energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality and stewardship of resources. Any new University construction and future renovations will meet LEED standards. The University will use only LEED accredited design professionals, and in fact, campus sustainability will be included in the new campus master plan.
- Materials are procured using LEED criteria, including recycled content, ability to be recycled, using local vendors and certified sustainable sources.
- Waste is diverted from landfill wherever possible.
- The University will use Low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) adhesives and paints.
- Salvaged materials are either returned to the University or donated to local charities.
- University infrastructure initiatives will be leveraged to improve energy efficiency. Also, a green roof will be installed on the low sloping part of the new building's roof, which will provide insulation thereby reducing the energy load needed to cool the building, absorb rainwater, and help lower urban air temperatures. A green roof is a roof covered with vegetation and a growing medium planted over a waterproofing membrane.
- The University will use occupancy sensors for lighting and heating/cooling control.
Local food vendors
"Currently, local vendors are used exclusively for dairy and produce and we have our own herb garden on campus," says Brad Woodroffe, general manager of dining services for Sodexho, the University’s food service provider. "Finding local meat suppliers is a little more challenging, but we are working on that. Sodexho provides a sustainable coffee line accredited by internationally recognized fair trade certification organizations. Coffee containers are made of recyclable and biodegradable materials in packaging and utensils."
The University uses sustainable containers and serviceware for our food-on-the-go and catering offerings. Breakfast, dinner and weekend food service is trayless, which reduces the amount of food waste and the amount of water and chemicals needed for washing. We use special less-polluting chemicals to wash dishes that Sodexho purchases from Eco-Lab, a company known for its environmentally sensitive products.
Webster University's recycling program promotes campus sustainability by making recycling easy, convenient and accessible. The University currently recycles all types of paper, aluminum, tin, steel, plastic, cardboard and glass. Recycling containers can be found in every building and most individual offices. The University also recycles fluorescent bulbs, batteries, paint cans (when possible) and computers. An arrangement with Dell Computers assures proper disposal of all computers, routers, servers and monitors. This arrangement applies to all of our 100 U.S campus sites as well.
In February, the University took part in RecycleMania, an annual national recycling competition for universities. As part of RecycleMania, Webster Students for Environmental Sustainability conducted a waste audit of 18 dumpsters around campus with assistance from the Missouri Botanical Garden's Earthways Center. "With the help of the University's Waste Hauling firm, we obtained good information about our waste stream, and what part of that still needs to be addressed in our recycling program," says Bruce Francis, facilities grounds coordinator.
The landscaping plan for the new academic building, designed by SWT Design Inc., will be beautiful, sustainable and educational.
According to Jim Wolterman, MBA 1991, Webster Groves resident and co-founding principal of SWT Design in Shrewsbury: "The site's palette consists of broad, bold statements with the use of unit pavers, locally harvested stone, and native and adapted landscape. Stately entry plazas provide comfortable places to sit or gather and provide the opportunity for donor pavers. Sustainable site features include permeable paving parking areas and a rain garden that manages roof and site runoff and native plantings. Education and interpretation will be encouraged with explanatory signage."
Other rain gardens are being planned for areas around campus where water does not run off properly. Wolterman defines a rain garden as "a planted depression that allows rainwater runoff from impervious surfaces, such as roofs, driveways, and walkways, to be absorbed. This reduces rain runoff by allowing storm water to soak into the ground. Rain gardens can cut down on the amount of pollution reaching creeks and streams by up to 30 percent."
Klaus-Dieter Rausch, a senior associate from SWT Design, has voluntarily been assisting and guiding the Students for Environmental Sustainability in the general planning and design process of two rain gardens, giving the students hands on experience in sustainable design. In the fall, the students intend to install gardens outside of Maria Hall.
As we teach what we practice, the University offers courses in environmental responsibility because it is relevant education. Coursework is across disciplines. We offer a graduate emphasis and certificate in Education for Global Sustainability, which provides teachers with the knowledge for transforming schools and communities toward global sustainability. On the undergraduate level, we offer economics and geography for global sustainability. The School of Education is piloting a program whereby sustainability concepts are embedded in all required foundation classes. In the science department, we offer courses on the environment, global climate change, ecology and life during global warming, to name just a few. These courses involve working with local businesses, nature centers, local scientists, farmers, nursery employees, ethnobotanists and botanists to learn first-hand about our unique local environment. Through our anthropology department, we offer a global food and water class and there are many more.
This is a critical time in the earth's history and we face both challenges and opportunities to move toward a more sustainable and desirable future. Universities can play an important role, not only by training and educating future leaders, but also by serving as models of environmentally sound practices.
With its home campus in St. Louis, Webster University is the only Tier 1, private, non-profit U.S.-based university providing a network of international residential campuses. Founded in 1915, Webster University’s campus network today includes metropolitan, military and corporate locations around the world, as well as traditional campuses in Asia, Europe and North America. The university is committed to delivering high-quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence.