Friday, November 9, 2012

University YMCA Goes Green

By Matt Rundquist

‘Green’ is not something that’s new to the University YMCA.

YMCA students and staff were among the first to take on environmental issues in the 1960’s and 70’s. The first Earth Day and Allerton Park’s continued existence are testaments to that era of YMCA environmentalism.

The Y is now home to 5 environmental student groups; Students for Environmental Concerns, Engineers Without Borders, the Campus Vegetarian Society, Red Bison, and of course the Green Observer

5 years ago, in the midst of renovation and construction, the YMCA Board of Governors and Building Committee began to champion the idea that our building is a part of our program. Any decision we make about the building, they reasoned, should reflect the organization’s mission, which includes “protecting the integrity of our natural environment” as a major pillar. With that framework, the building committee chose to add nearly three quarters of a million dollars in energy retrofits to the renovation.

They effectively launched a new era of environmentalism at the YMCA.

The year since the renovation has been just as exciting.  The Building committee chose to hire a Sustainability Coordinator to organize our efforts, which is now my position here at the YMCA. With the help of Learning IN Community (LINC, ENG-315), the staff has been busy writing grants and making plans.

Just last month, the Board voted to begin a Sustainability Committee, to act as advocates for the environment and develop green programming at the Y.

You can expect to see some exciting things coming from the Y. From a proposed bike-share program, to solar panels and a green roof, to enhancing local nutrition and healthy food, it really is an exciting time!

The Y is seeking applicants for next semester’s sustainability coordinator. The application process will begin in the coming months, please contact me at if you are interested!

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