When it comes to sustainability, a lot of organizations talk a good game, but the greatest challenge likely exists in the follow through. Members of the RIT community, I’ve observed, continue to rise to the challenge.
Nearly two years have passed since RIT President Bill Destler signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. At most recent count, 675 institutions of higher learning throughout the U.S. have signed the commitment, which provides support and a framework for America’s colleges and universities to go climate neutral. Particular emphasis is placed on neutralizing greenhouse gas emissions while accelerating research and educational programs.
Our students carry out the ideals of the Presidents’ Climate Commitment as well as any other group on campus. Last week, members of RIT’s Student Environmental Action League, or SEAL, hosted the Student Environmental Summit.
According to Stephen Kean, co-president of SEAL, the Student Environmental Summit was designed as a vehicle (not a petroleum-powered vehicle, mind you) to heighten our awareness of issues related to sustainability and their impact on our environment.
“Another important aspect is to help show the extent of the environmental community at RIT and throughout the greater Rochester area,” Kean explains. “We hope that by having so many local speakers that people will see how easy it is to become involved and become active members of the environmental community right around them.”
Alumnus John Vavalo ’05 (environmental management and technology), executive vice president of Northern Biodiesel, provided the keynote address and discussed the business of energy. Vavalo shared insights on how biodiesel, and other forms of alternative energy, provide great promise in powering our future while lessening our reliance on fossil fuels. In addition, more than a dozen of other speakers, many from right here on campus, presented on a range of other issues that include recycling, pollution prevention and ‘greener’ dining services.
“We hope that everyone who took part gained a broader view of sustainability and the environment as well as the knowledge that they can make a difference,” adds Kean.
And it’s RIT students who are ensuring that’s possible. For more information, visit the Student Environmental Action League website.