Communique from the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M.
I was proud over the weekend when DePaul switched off all but emergency lighting on our Loop Campus to take part in Earth Hour Chicago, which contributed to the reduction of an estimated 840,000 pounds of carbon dioxide in Chicago's air.
DePaul was the first Chicago university to sign on as a sponsor of 60 Earth Hour, which saw 20 cities around the world turn off lights for an hour March 29 to make a statement about global warming, climate change and the power of collective action.
But our commitment to the environment goes well beyond our co-sponsorship of 60 Earth Hour.
In recent years, our Facility Operations department has completed more than $5 million in energy-related projects, focusing mainly on lighting and heating, ventilation and air conditioning system retrofits; we've installed water-saver shower heads in all our residence halls; we're using refrigerants in cooling systems to minimize ozone depletion; and we're extracting by hand 90 percent of recyclables from the general waste stream.
Those are just a few of the steps we've taken to reduce the university's carbon footprint and to save money. Our most visible and most exciting green initiative is taking shape on our Lincoln Park Campus. The $40 million Monsignor Andrew J. McGowan Science Building or Science II will be certified Silver-Plus by the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System. It's an elite rating, the second-highest awarded.
The new science building, scheduled to open in January, will be more than a symbol of DePaul's commitment to sustainability. It will be a living laboratory that will support the academic goals of our VISION twenty12 strategic plan because it will create new ways to engage students in research.
Our students are especially passionate about helping stem the growth in carbon emissions. After all, it's the current generation of college students that will live with the consequences of climate change. Our Student Government Association successfully lobbied the university's budget committee for a $250,000 grant to support a variety of green initiatives in 08-09 that will be coordinated by Facility Operations.