Task force narrows its leader search

Nicole Stempak


The sustainability manager will recommend the most efficient ways for Kent State to use its natural resources and reduce environmental impact. This may mean changes to Dining Services, Residence Services or even a required class about sustainability.

The university is reviewing about 35 sustainability manager applicants, one of whom will lead Kent State’s effort to reduce its carbon footprint.

President Lester Lefton charged the university to form a Sustainability Task Force to measure the university’s sustainability initiatives, and in doing so, he created a university sustainability manager position during his “State of the University” address in September.

The task force will be the body that evaluates Kent State’s options and recommends best practices to the administration, said Tom Euclide, co-chair of the task force.

“The best practices that we use at Kent State may not be the best practices that Arizona State uses, for instance, or Purdue or whoever it might be because we have (a) different environment and a different personality to the campus, and it just might not work the same way,” said Euclide, executive director of facilities planning and operations.

Sustainability is a movement to operate efficiently with very careful utilization of natural resources. Sustainability also measures the byproducts of the university’s actions.

This includes deciding whether Dining Services should use paper or plastic plates or dishes that can be washed and reused, said Gregg Floyd, vice president for finance and administration.

Floyd and Provost Robert Frank are funding the sustainability manager position through their offices.

Euclide said they are reviewing the applications, with applicants from as far away as Australia. He said he expects the sustainability manager to help guide the group as well as manage the information so Kent State can adopt the best policies.

Euclide said there are close to 100 faculty, staff, community and students on nine subcommittees. The subcommittees are looking at issues, such as trying to involve students in the residence halls, energy and energy procurement, and fruit and vegetable purchases for Dining Services. Another group is focusing on academics and is trying to find ways to incorporate principles of sustainability into curriculum for every degree offered at Kent State.

“(With) the integration of all of this into virtually every study, there is an impact you really have from just about anything you do here,” Floyd said.

Floyd said his former employer, Indiana State University, started tracking its carbon footprint a couple years ago. The calculations included additional things that people normally wouldn’t think about, such as how far away the employees lived from the university.

“If you employ people from a distance, they’re contributing to the carbon footprint if they’re driving and essentially using fossil fuels to and from work,” he said. “It’s just so exhaustive the kinds of things that we do that have an impact either on the consumption of scarce natural resources or that impact the environment.”

A 2007 Ohio House bill about energy efficiency recommended public higher education institutions reduce their on- and off-campus building energy consumption by at least 20 percent by 2014.

Contact administration reporter Nicole Stempak at [email protected].