Knapp starts task force to examine environmental policies

University President Steven Knapp announced the creation of a sustainability task force Tuesday that will look at GW’s impact on the environment.

The task force will consider implementing academic programs and University policies that address environmental issues. But Knapp said the University may have to look for outside sources for funding of some of the programs.

“If we develop a new program, we have to find a way to pay for it,” the first-year president said.

As the largest private employer in D.C., Knapp said GW has a responsibility to put as low a burden as possible on the environment. The council will make its recommendations by June.

“There is no single approach that is going to solve the problem,” Knapp said. “The good news is everybody can do something.”

Senior Casey Pierzchala, the executive director of Green GW, is a member of the council and would like to see policy changes at the University.

“I think it’s a combination of students and school making changes,” Pierzchala said.

She said, for example, that students should turn off lights in their bedrooms when not using them, and that the University should also consider turning off the lights in classrooms at night.

The task force is composed of administrators, professors, representatives from the Student Association and environmental student organizations as well as the University president’s wife, Diane Knapp.

The task force members will develop recommendations in the areas of energy conservation, resource management, environmental awareness and research.

“I am excited to see Dr. Knapp’s interest in sustainable practices,” wrote Josh Lasky, a first-year graduate student and a presidential administrative fellow, in an e-mail. “I am particularly interested in broadening GW’s partnerships in the community and city to help incorporate sustainability throughout our campuses.”

The two other students on the task force are Sarah Tuntland, an MBA student and the president of GW Net Impact, a group for emerging business leaders interested in the social impact of business, and senior Maggie Desmond, director of green initiatives for the SA.

Lew Rumford, senior adviser for business development and co-chairman of the task force, said task force members are trying to enter into this project with no preconceived notions of what should be changed.

“The beauty of this process is that we want an honest inquiry,” he said. “We’re trying to give it some thought.let’s hope the outcomes are meaningful.”

Knapp pointed to the construction projects that are a part of the new Campus Plan as evidence of the commitment GW already has to the environment. Each new building project will boast environmentally-friendly designs.

Collaboration between the administration and environmental student organizations began last spring with the development of the Socially Responsible Initiatives grant, a fund of $25,000 available to student organizations.

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