The University’s Office of Sustainability awarded the “Green Division of the Year Award” to the Homewood campus for the significant strides and progress in sustainability it has made in the past year. This award, along with 11 others, was presented at the fourth annual Green Blue Jay Awards ceremony at the Bloomberg School of Public Health last Friday, April 22.
The Green Blue Jay Awards ceremony concluded the 2016 Earth Week celebrations by honoring those in the wider Hopkins community who demonstrated a commitment to sustainability principles and actions.
“Largely led by facilities and real estate, which is home to designing, construction, real estate and operations, many sustainability initiatives have been undertaken throughout the Homewood campus buildings and across its grounds,” Office of Sustainability Program Manager Ashley Pennington said. “Most recently, this includes upgrading the lights in the south garage to energy efficient LED lamps, installing a combined heat and power system in Wolman Hall, and working with professors in the Undergraduate Teaching Labs to take advantage of the decommissioned feature that was worked into that building’s design, which basically allows an entire laboratory space to be shut down when there is an extended period of time where it is not being used, as over holiday breaks when students disperse.”
In addition to the “Green Division of the Year Award,” other Homewood campus initiatives and individuals were also recognized for their efforts in furthering sustainability.
Senior Nikita Singh received the “Spirit of Sustainability Award” for demonstrating a unique enthusiasm for sustainability that inspires change in others.
The Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering received the “By the Book Award” in recognition of its accomplishment for integrating sustainability principles and priorities into academics.
The Leadership Initiative for the Environment received the “Student Group of the Year Award,” which recognizes the student organization that has made the biggest impact during the past year.
The Homewood Recycling Furniture Reuse Program received the “Three Legged Stool Award” for its incorporation of the three integral pieces of sustainability — economic, environmental and social — in a unique project.
According to Pennington, the Homewood campus is critical to furthering sustainability initiatives around the University, especially when looking toward future changes that can be undertaken by undergraduate students.
“Homewood provides a lot of unique opportunities, with it being our undergraduate campus,” Pennington said. “We have a lot of active student organizations there that coordinate a lot of events and programs, or help raise awareness and advocate awareness for some of these changes. There [are] always ways that they can come together and really share their thoughts on what a sustainable Hopkins means. So, we tried to define that a few years ago with our “original task force,” but it is something that should evolve over time and should be colored and flavored by those who are a part of our community now as well as who were then.”
Pennington further emphasized the importance of making sustainability a lifestyle, instead of simply a set of goals to be reached.
“We recognized a lot of departments, individuals or projects that were on the Homewood campus this year,” she said. “There’s a lot of great work being done. But there’s always more to be done. We’re certainly at a juncture where it’s important to celebrate how far we’ve come towards meeting our sustainability goals, but we have to keep moving forward, and if anything, accelerate our efforts. We really want to embed sustainability into all decision-making, all actions and ideas across the University for the long term. We want it to just become an intrinsic value to everyone who is a part of our university community.”
Director of Global Environmental Change and Sustainability and Associate Director of Environment, Energy, Sustainability and Health Institutes Cindy Parker also stressed that there is still a long way to go in terms of sustainability on campus and off.
“I leave you with a challenge,” Parker said. “Hopkins has a lot of influence — in the state, nationally and internationally. Hopkins could be nudged or pushed to use that influence to actually change policy. They’re not really doing that in a substantial way right now, at least in terms of energy use or climate change emissions or effective legislation, but they could. And they could do it based on human health, for example. So I would challenge all of you to figure out how you can play a role in helping that to happen.”
Other award recipients included Janel Johnson from Paperless Accounting Stewardship, Legg Mason for its Great Baltimore Oyster Partnership, Keswick Green Team Farmers’ Market, the Centennial Kickoff Festival and the Baltimore Community ToolBank.
Travers Nelson from the University’s Undergraduate Teaching Labs Signage received the “Sustainability Exposed Award” for making the vision of sustainability more accessible and visible to the Hopkins community through its energy-efficient design. Moreover, the University’s Office of Communications won the “Wacky and Wonderful” award for thinking outside the box to creatively advance sustainability values and action.
Pennington spoke to the success of this year’s Earth Week celebrations as well as the entirety of the week as being a cause for commemoration.
“This is my fourth year here and my fourth Earth Week here,” she said. “It’s grown every year, and I can definitely say that this is the best it’s been. We’ve just had such a diversity of programming — so many different groups hosting events, which is really what Earth Week counts on. There were so many ways that our community could interface with sustainability throughout this week. And this event was such a nice time to celebrate folks and it definitely feels like a very fitting way to close out the week. There is always that call to action, that this is something we should all care about and think about and be engaged with. My office is always willing and excited to listen to students’ ideas or think about how we can incorporate that into our mission as an institution.”