By Therese Porod
An active role of living out the Benedictine Value of Stewardship is giving way to a vision and hope for a successful future.
There is a new component of mission identity, emphasizing the aspects of stewardship and sustainability here at BenU, according to Dr. Timothy Marin, Department Chair of Chemistry/Biochemistry and member of the Stewardship and Sustainability Implementation Area.
Other members who are on the committee include members Dr. Jean-Marie Kauth, Jay Stuart, Jennifer Erickson, Karly Tumminello, Greg Munie, and Student Senate Representative Harjot Sangha.
The goal is to increase communication amongst different groups on campus, such as food services and campus services, to work together and report to the administration about service projects. This would then help in applying for grant money to help fund these service projects.
According to Marin, the committee wants to partner with St. Procopius Abbey, to help with their orchard, farm, and vineyard. The Abbey has been making wine from their vineyard, run by Greg Munie, for over 100 years and hopes to get more students involved.
Over a span of three years, Kauth has worked to build up awareness of environmental issues, such as building awareness for students, hosting the Faith & Reason Symposium, doing campus environmental service projects, starting the Ben Bike program, establishing a community garden, and restoring the grounds on campus around the slough, according to Marin.
According to Marin, there is a big push for restoration of the grounds, both at the Abbey and around the slough. This would include weeding, restoring healthy woodland, restoring remnants of prairie plant, in hopes of increasing the bird population, and bringing back a variety of wild life, explained Marin.
Before Fr. Theodore Suchy passed away, Marin said it was the goal of the nature museum that the “entire campus becomes a living museum.” In cleaning up the slough, Marin said they hope to take students who are in classes, such as ecology or botany, on the path to learn about different plants and animals in their natural environment.
This whole process could take a few years, explained Marin. There is a hope for more student involvement in the matter, as well as partnerships with conservation organizations, which can help with possible student internships.
“In the long, long run, we hope to expand these efforts to the Springfield and Arizona campuses,” said Marin.
According to Marin, here are some environmental changes done by food services and campus services:
1. Electric car charging stations and filtration ponds for rainwater runoff in parking garage.
2. Trayless dining in Krasa.
3. Food scraps program (composting of food waste) with Food Services.
4. Commitment of Food Services to minimizing disposable utensils and plates.
5. Lighting retro-fit in academic buildings from T-12 ballasts to T-8 ballasts and re-lamping of bulbs to decrease electricity usage.
6. Replacement of 250 metal halide inefficient bulbs in the arena floor of Rice Center utilizing ComEd rebate program.
7. Through grant funds, obtained a corrugated cardboard baler for cardboard recycling.
8. Demand Response Program with EnerNoc (for curtailment events of shedding electrical load – getting rebates during high electricity usage times for the conservation efforts).
9. Began recycling comingled material.
10. Continued campus Beautification Days, focusing on planting trees, shrubs, and perennials.
11. Sustainable backpack vacuums for housekeeping.
12. Introduction of plant derivative, eco-friendly chemicals and more efficient microfiber towels for housekeeping.
13. Use of recycled material for trash bags and toilet paper.
14. Reduction of cooking oil used by Food Services and conversion of waste oil into biodiesel.