Position: Special Projects Coordinator
Department: URI Sustainability Office
Hometown: Smithfield, R.I.
What does sustainability mean to you?
It means using resources in smart and sustainable ways so that future generations will be able to enjoy and benefit from our natural, cultural and economic resources. To live sustainably means recognizing our responsibility to society, to the earth and to each other to wisely use, protect and enhance the valuable resources we have inherited.
Which URI project or program related to sustainability should we be the most proud of?
URI has made tremendous progress in reducing energy use by investing in more efficient technology and educating the university community about conserving energy. Any new construction is designed with low energy use in mind and many new buildings are LEED-certified. The University will be moving away from producing steam for building heat by burning oil and switching to natural gas systems that burn more cleanly and can be used to heat in the winter and cool in the warmer months.
How are you involved with campus sustainability at URI?
As a sustainability project coordinator in the URI Sustainability Office, I seek opportunities to develop, collaborate and secure funding for sustainability projects involving ecology, energy, transportation, education and other aspects of sustainability. One goal of these projects is to engage faculty, staff and students in actual on-the-ground projects. There is no better way to help build and promote a sustainability culture here at URI than by giving people a chance to work together and have some ownership in a project they care about that provides real and sustainable benefits.
What can URI do to be greener?
I am encouraged by the way I see students “get” sustainability and by their enthusiasm to live in a sustainable way whether by choosing a career path in the field, by using bikes to get around, by being diligent in recycling materials, or by volunteering to plant trees or restore habitat. I would like see additional efforts to engage more people in the URI community to get actively involved in greening the campus – that will be a goal for my work in the Sustainability Office.
What do you do in your personal life to be green?
I am always informally educating family and friends about what things they can recycle and find often myself pulling plastic cups out of waste baskets or picking up plastic bags on the street. I drive a small car that has good gas mileage and maintain its engine and tires so that it performs as efficiently and cleanly as possible. Lawn care at my house is based on mowing and mulching rather than on chemicals and excessive amounts of fertilizers. I have replaced all my water fixtures with low flow devices and have a high efficiency/ low water use washing machine. All my lighting fixtures now sport CLF bulbs to reduce energy use. Last year I had a National Grid energy audit which pointed out additional things I can to my home to make in more energy-efficient. These are just some of the many small things that we can all do to make this a more sustainable world.
Rainer Lohmann, a professor at the URI Graduate School of Oceanography, is collaborating with a researcher at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in California to learn about the health and ecology of fur seals