Construction now, green payoff later



Butler University adopted its sustainability and climate action plan in August. Two months later, students still look around campus to see the changes.

The 19-page document summarizing the plan is available to the public online. Key points include Butler’s plan to eliminate operational greenhouse gases by 2050, provide education, research and community engagement, and publicly report progress every year. The plan is referred to as BUSCA, which means “seek” in Spanish.

Construction is part of BUSCA, including the new parking facility on Sunset Avenue and Lake Road.

The  Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified all campus construction  to its silver standard. LEED-certified buildings have a positive impact on the occupants’ health while promoting renewable, clean energy, according to its website.

Building to the silver standard means the business adopts the LEED framework without necessarily certifying the buildings.

McKenzie Beverage, Butler’s sustainability coordinator, said sustainable development is an important thing to keep in mind.

“It is not realistic to think there will never be any new construction on a college campus,” she said. “It is just part of being on a campus, and we do have these things in mind. And there are policies in place that guide (construction).”

When BUSCA was written, inventory was taken of all greenhouse gases. This is the benchmark for emissions the university plans to eliminate.

“If this new construction brings up the amount of emissions, we are still going to get down to zero,” Beverage said. “We are just going to have to do other things to abate that amount.”

Austin DelPriore, vice president of administration for the Student Government Association, said SGA’s green operations committee and the sustainability council are supporters of BUSCA.

“They are working to implement parts of the climate action plan on campus,” DelPriore said. “From SGA’s perspective, we view the efforts in committing to the climate action plan as a step forward and a step in the right direction. We have been very happy with the continuing progress.”

Junior Kendall Ladd said that she thinks sustainability is important, but it can be hard to see on campus.

“I hear a lot about the plans to make Butler self-sustaining,” Ladd said. “I haven’t seen any of these changes, though. Maybe they are happening behind the scenes. But if that is the case, I wish students were more informed.”

Beverage said Butler is entering the climate action plan’s implementation phase. For example, new signage on recycling bins took time to collect baseline data, such as a trash audit and research into the psychology of recycling.

“It is a very expansive plan with short- and long-term goals,” Beverage said. “Now that the plan is in place, I think students are going to start seeing some changes in terms of sustainability.”