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Growing a green campus

16 December 2011

Students trade collected garbage for a meal from the Trashtrade counter, also managed XU-CDO students. Photo Credit: jcap.essc.org.ph

Iris Legal

Growing a green campus is a new frontier for many Jesuit education institutions.  From Healing A Broken World (HBW), the recommendations initially focus on Jesuit lifestyle and institutions, with the first recommendation as a good starting point that “Jesuit communities and apostolic works are invited to discern the management of our own institutions and to exchange and develop more ecologically sustainable lifestyles in our communities (HBW, Recommendation No 1).”

The Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific (JCAP) and the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities in Asia Pacific (AJCU-AP) resonate with this statement, and take the lead by implementing more integrated and sustained environmental management practices in Jesuit campuses.  Also, the JCAP-Ecology and AJCU-AP identified the need for a training program for “campus managers” to sustain environmental campus management efforts with the hope of influencing others to do the same through levels of engagement and processes.

Increasingly, Jesuit schools and universities in the Asia Pacific region are becoming aware of the importance of environmental campus management.  The Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan (CDO) in Mindanao, Philippines, for instance, is encouraged by its President, Fr. Roberto Yap, SJ, to “maintain a green campus with a blue heart; a heart that appreciates the goodness of creation and discerns the active presence of God within creation.”

Photo Credit: Xavier University-CDO

Although other universities in Asia Pacific have well established their waste management and water and electricity audit programs, Xavier University-CDO is tasked by the AJCU-AP to become a prototype green campus for other Jesuit schools in the region seeking to establish a “green campus.” With this, Xavier University-CDO seeks to:

  • Use environmentally-friendly cleaning agents
  • Become a styrofoam-free campus
  • Operate a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) center
  • Reduce the waste dump at the city landfill
  • Manage trees inside the campus by pruning, landscaping, and treating tree diseases
  • Practice composting of yard and fruit wastes
  • Set up a rainwater catchment system
  • Conduct regular energy audit and improve energy efficiency

Bins used in collecting yard wastes instead of black plastic bags. Photo Credit: jcap.essc.org.ph

The university community took up this challenge positively with key people in the university and auxiliary units gathering together to discuss the process of achieving a road map towards a Green Campus Agenda for the university.  An environmental baseline data on solid waste was established along with the MRF center.  The initiative is a work in progress towards synergy, which also seeks to broaden its scope by including wastewater, chemical, and other related wastes.

Ms Iris Legal works with the Environmental Science for Social Change, a Jesuit research institution in the Philippines and is currently assisting the work in JCAP-Ecology.

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