Campus / Compost System / News / September 20, 2012

Knox to perform sustainability audit under new coordinator

Inside his new office, Shawn Tubb talks about his new position as the Sustainability Coordinator for Knox College [date]. During the interview, Shawn Tubb goes into depth about his new duties and ideas. (Lizzie Wisdom/TKS)

In order to identify and implement effective sustainability programs, newly appointed Sustainability Coordinator Shawn Tubb is looking to conduct a comprehensive sustainability assessment of the campus.

Tubb was the former Sustainability Coordinator for the University of Cincinnati and shares his vision with the Sustainability Task Force, a body composed of students, faculty and staff assembled by former President Roger Taylor ‘63 in 2008.

The “comprehensive inventory” of efforts, according to Tubb, is “a great opportunity to see where things stand and talk to people all over the campus … and kind of see where things are already happening and where we can find opportunities for growth.”

The audit, which Tubb described as a yearlong endeavor, will lead to insights concerning the overall resource consumption of the college.

“This fall, I’ll be able to continue gathering the information we need to do the assessment and create some timelines for some more specific things, like an energy audit of buildings and a waste audit to see what percentage of our waste stream is recycled,” Tubb said.

Following the completion of the assessment, open forums will be held to facilitate the creation of a sustainability plan. Tubb hopes to start at the end of fall term but considers winter an ideal time to formulate the plan. Outdoor sustainability projects tend to slow, providing ample time “to solicit feedback and create the vision,” he said.

“Then by spring we’ll be able to finish the draft and unveil it for public comments, so that by the end of this school year we can adopt our first sustainability plan,” Tubb said. “That’s kind of my goal, and I’ve talked to the sustainability task force about it and they seem to really be on board with that vision. It’s part of [President Amott’s]  vision as well.”

A third component of the plan will be to examine how Knox can coordinate with local sustainability efforts, “branching out to the city and to local nonprofits and organizations that are doing sustainable work at the regional level, and then determining how Knox can be a significant player in those initiatives,” Tubb said.

Tubb’s other plans include making compost and recycling locations more readily available to students. He recognized current projects, like the vermicomposting bin attached to the Hard Knox Café and the composting locations at Eco House and the community garden, as good resources for committed students but sees room for expansion.

The ultimate goal is to achieve 100 percent student participation in recycling, a figure currently estimated by the task force to be approximately 50 percent. Tubb also believes that the creation of a larger composting center could drastically reduce the amount organic waste sent from campus to the landfill.

Admitting that the qualification of short-, mid- and long-term projects should be attached to all efforts, Tubb said, “everything kind of just has to be done is phases, and certain steps have to be taken. I know that Knox has been making a lot of improvements but we just need to keep our eyes on the prize as far as what the long-term goals will be.”

Projects that Tubb has already been working on include the renovation of the space that currently houses his office, a new Campus Safety outpost and the Union Board office. Tubb was also involved in the expansion of the Free Store and the creation of the bike shop in Conger-Neal.

“Creating space that can be used for different things like getting information about sustainability or fixing your bike, I think that’s going to make a big difference in the day to day lives of students,” Tubb said, “even without much long term planning or fundraising.”

During orientation, Tubb’s goal was to communicate as much as possible with new students on campus about sustainability, a practice he developed at the University of Cincinnati. This included holding informational sessions for freshmen students and speaking with orientation leaders, resident advisers and admissions ambassadors about emphasizing the culture of sustainability on campus.

“Orientation is a really critical time to reach students because if you can start infusing sustainability into the dialogue and the culture the second they step on campus, that pays dividends throughout the year because it’s something that people know is part of Knox,” Tubb said.

Tubb is excited about the opportunity to work with students to help facilitate their projects but admits that the position maintains a broader range of responsibilities.

“Working behind the scenes, to see how Knox itself can be more environmentally sustainable and also economically sustainable. How we can save energy, water and other costs? How we can streamline operations and purchasing to both save us money and get more ecologically sustainable products, for instance,” Tubb said.

Tubb believes that it is an ideal time to start putting a larger focus on sustainability.

“I know that lately there has been a lot of interest both on the national level and here at Knox, so I think that the climate is right for harvesting that,” Tubb said.

Tags:  Knox College shawn tubb sustainability sustainability coordinator

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Julian Boireau
Julian Boireau is a senior majoring in international relations and minoring in French. This is his fourth year working for TKS, having served as co-news editor during his sophomore and junior years. He has been involved in journalism for seven years, serving as opinions editor of the newspaper and editor-in-chief of the literary magazine at Palisades Charter High School in Los Angeles, California. In September 2012, Julian received press credentials to attend the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City, where he reported on remarks by President Barack Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. He is also the recipient of back-to-back first place awards from the Illinois College Press Association for front page layout.

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