Environmental Management System saves the green stuff

Audrey Hull

Steven Rogness’ eyes sparkle as he discusses Greenfire’s upcoming project: the new Environmental Management System designed specifically for Lawrence University. Endorsed by President Rik Warch, Rogness, this year’s president of Greenfire, hopes to implement the program with new president Jill Beck’s blessing by the end of the year.Does this sound boring? In fact, this program could potentially save Lawrence thousands of dollars a year, thus potentially reducing student tuition fees.

The Environmental Management System originated as a class taught by Prof. George Meyer, the Scarff professor of environmental studies in 2002. Using the ISO guidelines for business and institutions, the class divided into five groups – energy, water, waste, heating, and environmental compliance – and worked to improve efficiency at Lawrence while reducing operational costs and environmental impact.

Rogness admitted that while much has been done so far, including renovation of the dorms’ lighting to decrease electricity use, there is still room for improvement. As he put it, “all the low-hanging fruit has been picked.” Future projects include replacing the summer boiler with one smaller and more effectual, as well as installing energy meters in all student housing to regulate efficient use of resources.

In order to promote effective use of environmental resources, the program will require a steering committee to supervise its practice. Rogness expects the committee, consisting of administration, faculty, campus staff, students, and occasionally outside experts, to work with the campus to put forth a concentrated effort towards reducing resource waste.

For example, in order to reduce paper waste, computer services must cooperate with students to decrease paper use and recycle wasted paper. Rogness commended Harold Ginke, the executive director of the Physical Plant, for his individual commitment towards reducing resource waste.

Regarding any potential problems in implementing the system, Rogness was concerned that nothing would change once the program was applied at Lawrence. He noted that “it will take a lot of work, and commitment on everyone’s part, in order for this program to work.” Still, he is hopeful that, with strong promotion, the program will eventually succeed in reducing environmental waste.

Coming up on May 1 is Earth Day, sponsored by Greenfire. Activities will begin at 9 a.m., with the annual Fox River cleanup, and continue through 2 p.m., with live music and information booths.

Visit Greenfire’s webpage and learn more about Earth Day at: