Editorial, Opinion

STAFF EDIT: Show us the green

From this semester’s trayless dining halls and new bike lanes, returning students can see obvious sustainability efforts at Boston University. However, the university’s commitments to more efficient energy consumption, waste management and construction projects are much less visible.
President Brown has said that he is committed to improving BU’s environmental footprint ‘-‘- which is commendable ‘-‘- but the execution of this pledge has been opaque at best. BU leaders say the university is moving forward in terms of sustainability. The school’s ‘Greening the Campus’ website boasts accomplishments like cleaner-boiling natural gas in its two boiler plants and more efficient lighting thanks to ‘retrofitting.’ A BU Today article published last Earth Day reported that BU has replaced regular light bulbs with more efficient fluorescent bulbs. But the website and the article do not explain the project any further ‘-‘- we do not know how many light bulbs were replaced, where they are located or when BU made the switch.
One of the programs that supposedly exemplifies BU’s green efforts is the RideShare service, which promotes carpooling. But participants have complained about a lack of promotion and interest in the initiative. If such failures are held up as strides toward progress, BU’s other efforts lose credibility.
Half-hearted and unclear efforts suggest BU’s ‘greening’ on campus is more of a public relations initiative than a true effort at reform. Brown did not sign the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, for instance, according to an April 29 Daily Free Press article. That move brings into question Brown’s commitment for sustainability. Officials have said projects to increase sustainability are moving forward despite Brown’s hiring and construction freeze. But that suggests the administration did not explicitly allocate much funding for these initiatives. Without cash, they cannot affect much real change. President Brown did outline more than $1 million for sustainability projects at commencement this year, but we have yet to hear where those funds have been specifically allotted.
Something that is consuming BU’s dollars is phase two of the Student Village. And even in this project – one that will yield the most modern building on campus – environmental issues have been somewhat overlooked. The administration refuses to LEED certify, which would prove the building’s sustainable standards, even though the U.S. Green Building Council said the price of certification is less than 1 percent of the entire project’s cost.
There is little doubt that BU understands the importance of sustainability. But it’s hard to trust the administration’s commitment when nothing more than vague and ineffective initiatives are divulged. Nearly everyone wants the greener BU that is supposedly being built. The university just needs to show it to us.

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