Temporary hire to help university go green, conserve resources

Ben Wolford

If successful, position may become permanent

The university plans to hire a temporary consultant to evaluate and offer ways to make the Kent State campuses more environmentally sustainable, said Yank Heisler, interim vice president for administration.

No one has been named for the position yet, but the administration hopes he or she will clue them in to “the best practices going on out there at the university level,” Heisler said.

Heisler said the university is still “early on in the process” of hiring someone and hopes to complete the hiring process in early July.

Sustainability is a movement to use the earth’s resources without compromising them for future generations, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Web site.

Conserving energy and resources can also be cost-effective.

After 90 days, if the consultant “turns out to save us a bunch of money,” President Lester Lefton said, “we may consider making this a permanent position.”

It won’t necessarily be the same person, he added. Lefton said such a position would “pay for itself.”

Hiring the consultant will be the first in a series of initiatives Lefton plans to undertake over the next year, both in areas of sustainability education and in campus operations.

The movement isn’t the result of any government nudging, Lefton said. Kent State is already ahead of the game.

In June 2005, House Bill 251 set energy efficiency standards for all state institutions.

Marijean Benedik, assistant director of residence services, said the department had been making environmental progress even before Lefton announced the sustainability movement.

During the 2007-08 school year, the department of residence services put on two competitions to see which residence hall could conserve the most energy.

“We thought the competition was a really good way to get their interest,” Benedik said.

Residence Services plans to do it again in the next school year along with continuing to add recycling bins, turning off lights in empty buildings and using environmentally friendly maintenance products, she said.

“It’s better for the environment,” Benedik said, “and it’s better monetarily.”

Contact principal reporter Ben Wolford at [email protected].