There are numerous initiatives that Fairfield is taking to “go green.”

However, the integration of administration, faculty and student involvement is often essential in moving projects forward to further increase on-campus sustainability.

Large efforts, such as the cogeneration facility, are a substantial part of Fairfield’s sustainability, but, there are many changes large and small that contribute to it.

In terms of particular interventions and how Fairfield compares to other schools, David Frassinelli, associate vice president of facilities management, said, “We were one of the first [schools] to adopt LED exterior lighting as our campus standard.”

Frassinelli also explained that the cogeneration facility on campus “is a very big deal,” and can provide the entire campus with electricity on most days and saves the university money.

The Jesuit residence has a geothermal system which is another example of the university’s strive toward an eco-friendly campus, explained Frassinelli.

Director of Environmental Health and Safety Joe Bouchard said that in Loyola, Gonzaga and Campion there are cogeneration elevators which use “about 40 percent electricity” compared to regular elevators.

Students, faculty and administration can see how much energy Fairfield is consuming by visiting Fairfield’s Energy Dashboard, located on the Fairfield.edu website. Frassinelli stated that the site illustrates energy usage by the minute and natural gas consumption, including the amount of energy being produced by the cogeneration facility.

They can also visit Fairfield’s Campus Sustainability page to find out more information about specific initiatives Fairfield has already taken to go green.

However, according to Frassinelli, there is a fear that being able to produce energy so “cost effectively and efficiently” can deter future efforts to further improve sustainability, but “we feel that even though we are producing at a cheaper cost, we still have to be efficient.”

Taking It To The Next Level – What Can You Do?

There are visible illustrations of Fairfield’s attempt at sustainability all over campus, such as the single stream recycling bins and cogeneration facility. However, many of these initiatives require the effort of the entire Fairfield community.

Bouchard stated, “We really have to get student involvement or it’s not going to work.”

Since students represent the majority of the community on campus, they have a huge role in Fairfield’s sustainability, according to Bouchard.

“Many of the programs that [the administration] see as sustainable, some of the commonplace stuff that people in general would do,” he said, “if [students] are not going to get involved you’re going to have a tough time.”

This was echoed by Jim Biardi, an associate professor of biology and future director of the environmental studies program.

He said that his role as a faculty member is to “provide students the opportunity to learn about an issue. They may know that recycling is important,” but not the specifics that lead them to participate in more sustainable practices. He added, “We have single stream recycling in Connecticut,” one of the green initiatives Fairfield must adopt and contribute to its sustainability.

However, “there are a lot of things that students can throw in the recycle bins, but they don’t, and there are other things that they can’t throw in there and why not?” Biardi said. He believes that by the faculty teaching the students about these subtleties, they will better be able to contribute to Fairfield’s sustainability.

Biardi continued, “I think one of the important things we are doing … [is] to try and develop a plan to make Fairfield University more sustainable. We actually have a draft campus sustainability plan that addresses a wide variety of different projects and [tries] to propose concrete steps that the university can take to be more sustainable.”

Another motivation for students to get involved in furthering Fairfield’s sustainability is the grants competition that encourages students to design and implement their own green initiatives.

Dr. David Downie, the current director of the environmental studies program, said that the competition “was both a student idea and a faculty idea and an idea by the administrators,” where they “develop[ed] a fund which provides money to a competition for students to implement green ideas.”

This is another example of collaboration among various campus groups to promote further involvement by the entire community in Fairfield’s sustainability.

“And if the project works,” he said, “and I think this has happened in the past, there is always the opportunity for the administration to provide greater amounts of money” toward the student initiatives.

Leaders for Environmental Action at Fairfield is a prominent environmental club on campus that aims to spread awareness about green concerns in order to increase sustainability on campus.

Junior Ryan Wessel, one of the leaders of the club, said that LEAF “generally [tries] to spread awareness on campus about waste, in terms of disposal and management on campus [and] proper recycling techniques.” This is done by organizing events such as documentary showings and speakers.

He added that this awareness hopefully “[gets] people thinking about what you do and how it impacts the world around you.”

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