We at Drake are passionate about sustainability—and it starts at the top. President David Maxwell is one of the charter signers of the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment, a statement pledging action to help fight global warming through better conservation practices on campus.
Inspired by our school colors of blue and white, we have named Drake’s sustainability program “Blue is Green.” Through the program, we work to minimize Drake’s environmental impact in every way we can.
Drake’s environmental commitment starts in the classroom. Our Environmental Science and Policy Program teaches students about the connections between science, policy, economics, and society in order to find solutions for a sustainable world. In Drake’s Agricultural Law Center, faculty and students focus on issues such as soil and water conservation, renewable energy, land management, and organic farming.
Informing and energizing students is a key part of the sustainability program. The Drake Environmental Action League gets students involved in awareness-raising and outreach. The organization hosts Earth Week events, leads clean-ups of polluted streams, and much more. In another key effort, members of the Residence Hall Association are a leading force in promoting recycling.
Our goal is to achieve at least LEED Silver certification on all new campus construction. (LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, represents one of the most widely recognized standards in the field of sustainable building.) In addition, the Facilities Services staff use green cleaning products that do not contain many of the toxins used in traditional cleaners, run all campus lawn mowers on bio-diesel, and time lawn sprinklers to run during periods of the day when evaporation is minimal.
Drake Dining purchases local foods when they are in-season, serves organic, free-trade coffee, and has eliminated trays for carrying food. This encourages diners to take only the food they will eat and saves on water and energy needed to clean trays.
Drake has been a leader in adopting single-stream recycling, making it easier for people across campus to recycle, since they don’t have to sort materials they are discarding. We also recycle our waste oil, collect and recycle refuse after athletic events, “demanufacture” old appliances, and operate a special machine to depressurize aerosol cans so that they can be recycled.
We are aiming to be a paperless university by 2015. Toward that effort we are already converting to electronic schedules and media guides in athletics, installing new LCD screens for menus and announcements, encouraging faculty to post handouts online, and issuing all University billing statements electronically.
To help members of the Drake community get around while keeping fuel use and vehicle exhaust to a minimum, we provide students and staff with free passes to ride the DART Bus system all over Des Moines and have invested in many bike racks around campus. In addition, our facilities team uses electric golf carts for cross-campus trips.