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UGBC Plans Eco-Friendly Progress

Caucus Releases New Sustainability Goals

Asst. News Editor

Published: Monday, January 28, 2013

Updated: Monday, January 28, 2013 00:01

In recent months, the policy caucus of the Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC) has been working on issues of sustainability on campus. Under the direction of caucus chairman Matthew Alonsozana, UGBC Senate member and A&S ’14, and Joseph Manning, caucus chief of staff and A&S ’14, the caucus has coordinated with eco-friendly student groups and Cabinet departments and released a sustainability press release to the student body last semester. Recently, the caucus has created a set of standards for UGBC and student group events on campus to rate their sustainability.

“In late October and early November, the policy caucus got together with relevant student groups to hammer out standards on how student organizations could become green, to network better, and to become a more effective lobbying force to the administration on how to become a more sustainable campus,” Alonsozana said.

One of the first fruits of these collaborations was a press release to the student body that addressed the state of sustainability on campus. In the release, the Senate commended the University’s efforts in promoting sustainability and urged the student body to support these endeavors and continue sustainable practices.

The groups with which the policy caucus worked included the Residence Hall Association (RHA), EcoPledge, Real Foods BC, the University Affairs department of Cabinet, and other members of the UGBC. The University Affairs Department of Sustainability came up with the idea of having an event certification system, where events could be measured up against a set of published guidelines.

“Every event that UGBC puts on must be measured up against the guidelines,” Alonsozana said. “The guidelines include using compostable materials, minimizing energy usage, and ensuring that there are enough recycling receptacles in the venue.”
As a part of the guidelines, University Affairs designed a system of different levels of certification, similar to the L.E.E.D. rating system for the design and construction of green buildings. Within this framework, there are light green, yellow green, and forest green levels of certification for how eco-friendly an on-campus event is.

In addition to working with the administration and student groups to publish guidelines, the UGBC has also served as a lobbying force to the administration, representing Real Foods to the administration on issues such as land usage for their Brighton Campus garden. In this role, they have also supported EcoPledge in their attempt to get BC Dining to use biodegradable dining cups. Outside this role, the UGBC is engaged in researching energy usage by the University, as well.

“Staffers on the policy caucus are analyzing different sustainability data,” Alonsozana said. “For example, they are looking at how much gas and oil our transportation fleet uses. Are there better windows we can use to minimize heat loss? Can we be more creative using solar panels? They are building up a wealth of research so that we can be more effective advocates for change.”
One of the problems that Alonsozana described was that students are not currently well connected to the University’s Department of Sustainability. In the future, he hopes that, with the recent collaboration, representatives of these different organizations will meet more regularly with the administration and work with faculty members to develop a plan on moving the University forward.

“As a result of all these discussions, it is our end goal in the policy caucus to come up with what is a reachable, three-year, five-year, and 10-year plan,” Alonsozana said. “One of our more ambitious initiatives is to divest from the BC endowment funds energy companies that are not offsetting some of their environmental impacts. Some of the [BC] Law students brought this up and we are really looking forward to working more with them on this in the future. This is good because sustainability really represents one of the first real pan-policy movements.”

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