YDS remains on the offense on sustainability
If the month of March is associated with anything, it’s usually the national college basketball competition common referred to as “March Madness.” We love the unpredictability, the surprises, and the upsets. This March, however, another sort of madness seized the country. Before the final day of winter, Chicago was experiencing daily temperatures in the mid 80s (F); International Falls, MN, the “icebox of the nation,” shattered its former temperature records—by 22 degrees; South Dakota was a whopping 94 degrees; and the earliest F-3 strength tornado was recorded in Michigan’s history.
Although Yale did not get the chance to participate in the basketball madness, the university continues to take the offensive in matters of climate change and sustainability. Over the last decade, YDS has been at the forefront of sustainability working in tandem with the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and the School of Management to create green professional schools at Yale.
On March 20, with a bizarre temperature of 75 degrees outside, YDS Sustainability Coordinators Russ Powell ’13 M.Div. and Troy Savage ’13 M. Div., a joint degree candidate in Forestry, hosted a panel in the Common Room to discuss sustainability and YDS.
Dean Harry Attridge began the discussion with an overview of what has occurred during his terms as dean, including solification of the joint-degree program with School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Attridge emphaized that the goal has been to create an academic atmosphere capable of “thinking globally but acting locally: taking care of our own environment here and doing the best we can to reduce our dependence on various kinds of energy sources, and that’s where the sustainability initiative kicks in.”
Sandra Lynch, director of finance and administration at YDS, highlighted the ways YDS has simultaneously been creating a more sustainable environment and cutting costs. Efforts made in the past few years include installing motion-detector lights, purchasing recyclable paper for printers and copiers, and having idle computers default to sleep mode. Collecting compost and recycling pens and batteries are also small ways that YDS has become a more sustainable place.
Brian Vinci, director of facilities at YDS, said that for some time now all of the facilities’ practices and products at YDS are green. “Being ‘green,’” Vinci said, “means the hand soap, the paper towel, the toilet paper, all the products we use and equipment we buy meet the industry standard of ‘green.’” This year, Vinci is excited to introduce two new sustainable practices to YDS. First, ‘single stream recycling’—where you can throw your bottles, cans, and mixed paper all into one all-purpose recycling bin—will become the norm. Second, Vinci introduced an exciting new tool called an ‘Ionator.’ Like an enhanced spray bottle, an Ionator is a water gun that ionizes tap water and functions as a green supplement to most surface cleaners.
In addition to creating a more efficient compost system, said Kai Hoffman-Krull ’12 M.A.R. and head of the Divinity School Farm, the farm is moving towards adopting a model based on a community garden. Everyone participating in the farm has ‘ownership’ of a small piece of land, and Kai and farmers help walk people through the basic steps of growing their own produce. “Hopefully,” concluded Hoffman-Krull, “these are skills that people can take with them after they leave YDS and bring the sustainable practices they learned at the farm to whatever communities they find themselves in.”
Sustainability Coordinators Powell and Savage wrapped up the discussion by voicing their intentions for the upcoming academic year. They hope to make the YDS refectory compost-friendly and are strategizing how to make this Fall’s BTFO orientation a zero-waste event. Additionally, the two are designing a website for sustainability on the YDS campus. They intend this to be “a one-stop shop for anything related to sustainability—whether it’s finding out how and where to recycle something, what courses are being offered on religion and ecology, or what John Collins’s ‘biblical values of sustainability’ are.”
Although Harvard made it to the NCAA basketball tournament, Dean Attridge did not fail to note, in the spirit of friendly competition, that there are more solar panels at YDS than at Harvard Divinity School.