Advertisement

LJWorld Green

KU tries to become more sustainable in its practices

Dining Services receives high marks for use of local food

Kansas University Dining Services executive chef Janna Traver pulls a bunch of lemongrass from one of her planters on the roof of the Kansas Union. Traver estimates that she has gathered 17 pounds of herbs, 12 pounds of tomatoes and 2 pounds of peppers in her second year with the rooftop garden. On Friday, Traver harvested what remained of the garden in anticipation of the first frost.

Kansas University Dining Services executive chef Janna Traver pulls a bunch of lemongrass from one of her planters on the roof of the Kansas Union. Traver estimates that she has gathered 17 pounds of herbs, 12 pounds of tomatoes and 2 pounds of peppers in her second year with the rooftop garden. On Friday, Traver harvested what remained of the garden in anticipation of the first frost.

October 13, 2009

Advertisement

A national independent organization has given Kansas University a C+ grade for its sustainability efforts this year.

KU officials said the grade from the Web site greenreportcard.org is improved from last year’s C-, but it’s a sign the campus still has room to do better.

Jeff Severin, director of the KU Center for Sustainability, said that projects are ongoing throughout the campus, including efforts by KU Dining Services to use more local food, the use of biodiesel in KU buses and a strong recycling program.

In the ongoing sustainability effort — defined on the center’s Web site as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” — the campus still has ways to improve, he said.

The report card gives KU high marks — an A or B — in areas such as food and recycling, student involvement, and climate change and energy.

The student involvement portion of the report card didn’t surprise Severin, who saw more than 200 students turn out to create a rain garden at the Ambler Student Recreation Fitness Center this April.

He’s noticed a swell of support for such “green” causes in the last five years, he said.

“Definitely in that time, I’ve seen a big increase in support, not only in the number of student organizations, but in the dedication to projects like these,” Severin said.

And it’s not just from students, either.

Janna Traver, executive chef and assistant director for KU Dining Services, has created a rooftop garden on top of the Kansas Union using pots and old mayonnaise buckets. The garden was harvested for the final time last week ahead of an anticipated freeze over the weekend.

The garden gives KU Dining Services several pounds of tomatoes, fresh herbs and peppers each year. “We use it on a daily basis,” Traver said. “I wanted more availability of fresh herbs.”

Instead of paying $20 for a pound of thyme, for example, she spends about $2 for the same amount on the rooftop garden, and takes only what she needs.

One area for improvement for KU on the report card was in green buildings — the school received a D in that category. Severin said that later this month the Sustainability Center will be releasing a climate action plan including several recommendations to reduce emissions on the KU campus that will include campus buildings.

Some changes are easy, he said, though some involve some pretty big — and expensive — changes. It will serve as a general guideline, he said, with recommendations for administrators and individuals alike.

Cameron Bruns, a research fellow with the Sustainable Endowments Institute, which published the Green Report Card, said the survey had switched to a new methodology this year that involved much more qualitative analysis, with more in-depth surveys.

The only two categories where KU received a failing grade were in endowment transparency and shareholder engagement — areas that allow the public to see what kind of investments the school is making, and whether it is supporting companies that don’t use sustainable strategies, Bruns said.

KU finished in a tie for sixth place among Big 12 Conference schools in the rankings — Colorado got an A-, the highest grade any institution received, and Texas Tech received a D+, the lowest score in the conference.

Comments

gilly 4 years, 6 months ago

Devo, it's the other way around: the bugs come inside because the inside is safer for them then outside!

And I'd rather deal with bugs then the exposure to weedkiller and bugspray.

As for your assumption of crabgrass and thistles and erosion, that's not a given. There are ways to manage ground cover, and landscape specialists who know what they are, and they don't all require monograss carpets that are possible only by constant applications fertilizer and herbicide.

For those of you who don't like reel mowers (and why not?), we can try goats. We'd get fertilizer that way, too. Maybe even some goat cheese, once sprays are eliminated. I see a new revenue stream for the university....

0

plumpNripe 4 years, 6 months ago

That's why I eat at McD's and Burgerking and at all the chain fast food places, because they are all trying to go green too and practice safer, more human farming methodology. Dairey Queen has it's owned daireys and ice cream farms, they're the best of all the chains. And Arby's is a close second probably.

0

topekan7 4 years, 6 months ago

They could save a lot more energy by simply closing the union, turning out the lights, and locking the doors. It serves no vital purpose.

0

TheGreatSantini 4 years, 6 months ago

You'd have to pay me 80,000 a year to mow campus with a reel mower.

0

devobrun 4 years, 6 months ago

gilly, just remember that less pesticide and herbicide use means more bugs and bad plants. This means that things will happen differently. Crab grass will leave bare spots during the winter. Erosion. Thistles, yikes. More bugs in the yard means more bugs in the buildings.

Getting rid of all power tools will require more employees. That sounds good, but expensive. Lawnmowers don't need health insurance, or retirement deals.

So, just to be clear, gilly wants things to look seedier, and wants to pay more for it. Some people might disagree.

0

tanaumaga 4 years, 6 months ago

devo needs a new hobby..'you self-righteous bitty...'

0

gilly 4 years, 6 months ago

That rooftop garden is a great start--low cost, high return!

In the next few years, I hope to see many improvements. One good one would be a reevaluation of KU's ground care practices: less pesticide and herbicide usage, less moving, mowing with reel lawn mowers, not fossil-fuel polluting motorized mowers, and please-for-the-love-of-all-that-is-good-and-right, get rid of the weedwackers and leafblowers. Our ears and our lungs will be grateful.

0

thebcman 4 years, 6 months ago

For starters, they could turn the lights off in the Underground (Wescoe) at night and on weekends.

The amount of food wasted after the tailgating is over in the tents (football) is mind-blowing. LINK could use that stuff.

0

puddleglum 4 years, 6 months ago

hey, what the heck? how about sustaining some of the alumni? instead of Lew gouging everything. I constantly get these pleas from the alumni center, wanting money, of course. How about a refund? I have two degrees and I want my money back.

0

devobrun 4 years, 6 months ago

Heck with this article. What struck me was LJWorld Green. Is this new? Has this been around a while and I missed it.

I clicked on the LJWorld Green link and find that it has been around since about June.

Imagine, feature articles in support of the new religion. I guess it isn't much different than running some of the other religious stuff in your paper.

Feeling guilty? Get redemption (instant karma) right here. Don't know what to do with your life? Need goals? Go green.

From the article: "The only two categories where KU received a failing grade were in endowment transparency and shareholder engagement — areas that allow the public to see what kind of investments the school is making, and whether it is supporting companies that don’t use sustainable strategies"

Translation: We must be able to wag our fingers at people who don't follow the dogma. Without transparency, sinners might slide. Reminds me of an old country song by Tom T. Hall and popularized by Cal Smith:

HELLO MRS. JOHNSON
Tom T. Hall

(A) WELL HELLO MRS. JOHNSON YOU SELF-RIGHTEOUS WOMAN SUNDAY SCHOOL (D) TEACHER WHAT BRINGS YOU OUT SLUMMIN' DO YOU RECKON THE (A) PREACHER WOULD APPROVE WHERE YOU (D) ARE SITTIN' HERE (A) VISITIN' WITH A (E) BACK-SLIDDIN' CHRISTIAN IN A NEIGHBORHOOD (A) BAR

(A) YES THAT'S MY BOTTLE AND YES THAT'S MY GLASS AND I SEE YOU'RE EYE (D) BALLIN' THIS PRETTY YOUNG LASS AIN'T NONE OF YOUR (A) BUSINESS BUT YES SHE'S WITH (D) ME AND I DON'T NEED NO (A) SERMON YOU SELF-RIGHTEOUS (E) WOMAN JUST LET US (A) BE

(A) WELL THE LORD KNOWS I'M (D) DRINKIN' AND RUNNIN' A (A) ROUND AND I (D) DON'T NEED YOUR LOUD MOUTH INFORMIN' THE (E) TOWN (Tacet) WELL THE LORD KNOWS I'M (D) SINNIN' AND SINNIN' AIN'T (A)RIGHT BUT ME AND THE (E) GOOD LORD'S GONNA HAVE US A GOOD TALK LATER TO (A) NIGHT

(Instr)

(A) WELL GOODBYE MRS. JOHNSON YOU SELF-RIGHTEOUS BITTY I DON'T NEED YOUR (D) LOUD MOUTH AND I DON'T NEED YOUR PITY SO GO BACK TO WHAT (A) EVER YOU HYPOCRITES (D) DO AND WHEN I SPEAK TO (A) HEAVEN BE NICE AND I'LL (E) PUT IN A GOOD WORD FOR (A) YOU

(CHORUS) BUT ME AND THE (E) GOOD LORD'S GONNA HAVE US A GOOD TALK LATER TO (A) NIGHT

0

Commenting has been disabled for this item.