Baylor’s sustainability goals align with Christian mission

Courtesy of Smith Getterman

By Julia Vergara | Staff Writer

Influenced by its Christian mission, Baylor puts time and effort into caring for the environment with university-wide sustainability practices and programs.

Baylor’s Sustainability Policy defines “sustainability” as the societal effort to meet the needs of present users without compromising the needs of future generations.

Smith Getterman, director of sustainability and special projects, said he believes it is a part of the Christian mission –– both as individuals and as members of the Baylor community –– to practice sustainability.

“When we talk about being good stewards of our resources, we’re really talking about how the decisions we make impact our next door, national and global neighbor,” Getterman said. “When we care for God’s creation, we are taking seriously the charge Christ gave us to ‘love our neighbors as ourselves.'”

Baylor has implemented various practices and programs for campus sustainability. For example, Getterman said the university recently installed an irrigation system which has resulted in a “dramatic decrease” in water expenditure during irrigation.

Baylor also has over 700 indoor and outdoor recycling locations on campus, as well as bike lanes and bike racks available for alternative methods of transportation.

The university has also been working on a five-year sustainability plan since February 2015 called Sustainable 2020. Getterman said this is the first time the university has had such high-level, long-term sustainability goals. There are four main focuses to the plan: dining, waste, energy and water.

In regards to dining, Baylor is striving to have 20 percent locally-sourced food in the campus residence halls. According to the 2017 update, the amount of locally-sourced food in residence halls increased to 13.5 percent.

For waste, the university is hoping to achieve a 30 percent diversion rate, which measures how much waste is diverted from landfill for recycling. As of 2017, the university diversion rate increased to 26 percent from a 2010 fiscal year baseline.

In terms of energy, Baylor is striving to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent. In 2017, the use of electric energy was decreased by 15.1 percent from a 2010 fiscal year baseline.

For water, the goal is to reduce university-wide water use by 17 percent. In 2017, university-wide water use decreased by 15.1 percent from a 2010 fiscal year baseline.

Cedar Hill senior Julia Frandsen-DeLoach, president of the Sustainability Student Advisory Board, said Baylor’s sustainability practices were recognized in the Sierra Club’s “Cool Schools” list and the Princeton Review Guide to Green College and Universities.

Frandsen-DeLoach said working toward sustainability is important because as the world grows and advances, people are using natural resources at an exponential rate.

“Finding better and more efficient solutions to how we live day-to-day not only is better for the environment but for everyone as well,” Frandsen-DeLoach said. “In the spirit of Baylor’s mission, we are called to be stewards of God’s gift of creation.”

The Sustainability Student Advisory Board‘s purpose is to give the university suggestions from a student perspective on improving campus sustainability efforts, Frandsen-DeLoach said.

Frandsen-DeLoach has been a member of the board for three and a half years. She was first introduced to the board when she was a freshman, and since then she has served as secretary, vice president and president.

Frandsen-DeLoach said it has been a wonderful experience for her to see how much the board has grown since she first started and how much of an impact they have made over the years.

“This board allows us to be more engaged both on campus and in the Waco community as we strive to protect our precious environment,” Frandsen-DeLoach said.

Houston senior Jenny Fox, co-vice president of the Sustainability Student Advisory Board, said they are a group dedicated to caring for God’s creation. Fox said the group holds monthly meetings to discuss sustainability practices and how they can make Baylor and the surrounding community a better place to live.

Fox said she loves discussing how the board can improve sustainability on campus, whether that is through more recycling bins on campus, notifying maintenance about sprinklers or improving bike lanes.

Change can start small, Fox said. Individuals can do small things to eliminate waste such as using a reusable water bottle, using reusable bags when shopping and walking or carpooling to class.

“The choices you make, how you live your life and how it impacts the world around you should always be at the forefront of the Christian’s mind,” Getterman said. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another [John 13:35].'”