Baylor named a ‘Cool School’ for campus sustainability

Lariat File Photo

By Julia Vergara | Staff Writer

Baylor University has been placed on the Sierra Magazine’s 2017 “Cool Schools” list for sustainability practices on campus.

The Office of Sustainability defines sustainability as society’s effort to meet the needs of present users without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

For Director of Sustainability and Special Projects Smith Getterman, sustainability is part of the call to be a Christian.

“Sustainability looks different everywhere,” Getterman said. “But at Baylor it is an inherent part of our Christian mission and I really firmly believe that it is part of our calling as Christians to care about it—to care about God’s creation and our neighbors.”

Getterman said that in order to make Sierra Magazine’s “Cool Schools” list, an intense survey on university operations and practices had to be filled out and submitted to a program by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), called STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System). The Sierra Club then takes the data from their submission and evaluates it based on their scoring key.

“We award a significant percentage of points in the areas of campus energy use, transportation, and fossil fuel divestment because the Sierra Club believes that progress in these sectors is essential for addressing the climate crisis,” the Sierra Club said on their website.

This is the fourth time in five years that Baylor appeared on the list.

Getterman said that Baylor has had a five-year plan since 2015, called Sustainable 2020, which was established to set goals for Baylor’s university sustainability initiatives. Through this plan, the university is striving to increase local sourced food on campus by 20 percent, cut down waste by 30 percent, reduce greenhouse gas emission by 15 percent and reduce water use by 17 percent.

Many of the practices and programs that they have on campus feeds specifically into those four overarching goals, Getterman said. For example, Baylor has over 700 recycling bins on campus and offer recycling during move-in and a campus-wide donation drive during move-out—all of which contribute to reducing waste on campus.

Getterman said that Baylor also puts in a lot of effort into its energy awareness program. Through this program, the Office of Sustainability holds a competition in residence halls to see who can save the most energy during a certain amount of time.

For the last couple of years, the office has also been in the process of updating the irrigation system which, according to Getterman, they have already seen an increase in water preservation.

Getterman said that helping sustainability on campus can be as simple as recycling or walking to class more often than driving.

“It’s as simple as understanding your role in the larger community,” Getterman said. “I’m not asking anyone to make great sacrifices but I do want you to start thinking about how the way you consume impacts or effects the people around you.”