Passion and talent from the GW community are what will help propel the District’s green movement, University President Steven Knapp said Monday at the D.C. Symposium on Urban Sustainability.
The three-session symposium, hosted by GW at the Jack Morton Auditorium, opened with speeches from Knapp and city officials stressing the importance of the green initiative and the partnership between the University and the District.
Knapp said GW “can and should strive to become a national model” for urban sustainability.
“We’re going to try to raise the bar as we proceed in developing in our campus,” Knapp said.
He said students lead the green movement at GW with unprecedented enthusiasm and the University can continue to affect change in the greater community, adding that GW can prepare members of the community for green jobs.
“We don’t have a community college here, so the question is how do we fill that gap in providing entry-level jobs,” Knapp said. “We can work with the city.”
Knapp noted that sustainability is part of every school at GW and spoke about how the University demonstrated its commitment to sustainability by offsetting 77,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emitted by the event.
The University is also constructing two residence halls, both of which will be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified to meet certain sustainability standards.
“I believe every project should be LEED-certified,” said D.C. Councilman Kwame Brown (D-At Large), who spoke at the event. He said he hopes people will continue to bring LEED certification into new building plans not just because it’s the “hip” thing to do, but because they understand the importance of it.
“We can’t afford not to do it,” he said.
Brown also discussed the importance of getting young people involved in the green movement.
“At the end of the day, it’s about making sure that the next generation is pushing us to develop sustainability,” he said.
Brown noted GW students’ progress in obtaining a reduced Metro fare for students and said he hoped to engage the city in creating green jobs.
“I see green jobs as a movement,” he said. “Not only an opportunity to teach but also to get (D.C. citizens) involved on a personal level.”
Deputy Mayor for Education Victor Reinoso discussed the need to teach sustainability to students of all ages.
“Environmental sustainability should be a part of our civics lessons as we teach students how to be responsible citizens,” Reinoso said.
Casey Pierzchala, a recent GW graduate who now works in the Office of Planning and Environmental Management, spoke of the importance of caring for our planet and preserving resources.
“It is my generation that will feel the impacts of climate change,” Pierzchala said. “Finally we have a champion at our helm to lead our effort, and I’d like to thank President Knapp.”
Student Association Sen. Julie Bindelglass (CCAS-U), who attended the symposium with University advocacy group Campaign GW, said the University has made sustainability a higher priority this year.
“We’re better using our resources, and there is no better way to be sustainable,” said Bindelglass, a sophomore.
Freshman Dylan Pyne, who also attended the symposium with Campaign GW, emphasized the significance of sustainability.
“All one could really hope for is that people realize how important sustainability is to our future as a university and our world as a whole,” Pyne said. “If we change one person’s lifestyle, then the University and the world are that much better off.”