Nature calls, green initiatives reach out

By Erica Terrini

News Editor

A lecture on sustainability and the economy, part of the Business Talks Business Speakers Series, was held Wednesday and brought about 30 local and VCU community members to Snead Hall to discuss sustainability and the economy.
The speakers series, which began last fall, is hosted by the VCU School of Business. The goal of the series is to reach out to the Richmond and VCU community, said Donna Sharits, the assistant director for the Development and Alumni Affairs in the School of Business.
“We want to make it convenient for people,” Sharits said. “That is why our format is to present the same topic in three locations.”
Keynote speaker Karl Bren, the president of GreenVisions and a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional, led the presentation Sustainability and the Economics of Going Green.
“Economy has been our focus,” Bren said. “If it doesn’t work economically over time, it isn’t sustainable.”
There are three components to factor into the decisions of businesses and individuals. Bren said he refers to ecology of the planet, the equity of people and economic prosperity as “the triple bottom line.” All three components are key to reaching a sustainable outcome.
Bren said designing continually recyclable products, green building and education are essential to maintain a more environmentally-friendly community.
According to Bren, universities are key in progressing toward such a community.
The speakers series program is one VCU green initiative. The Department of Environmental Conservation is hosting Recycle Mania, a competition to promote waste reduction activities. Their goal is to divert a minimum of 25 percent of the solid waste generated by VCU facilities through waste reduction, reuse and recycling.
According to the Department of Environmental Conservation in 2009, VCU recycled the following materials:
•    1,014,440 pounds of paper (507 tons)
•    532,660 pounds of cardboard (266 tons)
•    263,160 pounds of scrap metal (132 tons)
•    74,120 pounds of computers and electronics (37 tons)
•    63,640 pounds of aluminum, glass and plastic containers (32 tons)
•    9,800 pounds of light bulbs and batteries (5 tons)
The MCV Campus Year of the Environment Committee is sponsoring the MCV Campus Conservation Challenge to reduce each building’s energy consumption (electricity and steam usage) and increase its recycling.
“In terms of (students) trying to live a sustainable life, that should have no relationship to what the economy looks like or anything else,” Bren said. “It’s a good way to be living your life.”

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