Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Get to Know the Sustainability Movers and Shakers On Campus: Jess Buckley

You may have heard about a thing called the Sustainability Advisory Committee, the group of students, faculty, administrators, and staff that discuss the role of sustainability at GU, and maybe you haven't. Either way, EcoAction is taking the month of April--Earth Month--to introduce you to the important folks from the Committee--the sustainability movers and shakers, as I'll call them.

First up is Jess Buckley, Hall Director for McCarthy and the Head of Project Hilltop, a group of RAs and students promoting sustainable practices in residence halls and apartments on campus!

So, Jess, tell us about an average day at the job. What does your position entail?

I wear many hats, so everyday is different! I supervise RAs, oversee the building budget, work with facilities and housekeeping on infrastructure issues, do some programming, and sit on lots of university and Residence Life committees. Because of my interest in sustainability, I advise Project Hilltop, which is the Residence Life sustainability committee made up of RAs from almost every residence hall on campus along with some residents.

How did you come to Georgetown?

My husband started a PhD program here, and I was finishing a Master's in Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration at the University of Vermont. I saw the Hall Director position open, and it seemed like a perfect fit. I've loved working here.

How does Georgetown compare to other institutions at which you've worked?

Georgetown is a great place. It's a bit smaller of a community than some other schools where I've worked, which means departments often work closely together on similar projects. While we're not quite as far along on sustainability as some schools (like Vermont), we are also ahead of the game in many aspects. Our physical plant is top notch, our administrators are committed to sustainability, the Jesuit values go hand in hand with the work for sustainability, we have a great recycling and composting program, and we have devoted students. The working environment here is designed for collaboration, which is what real sustainable initiatives require. Georgetown is already doing so much around sustainability, our goals now need to be to educate the campus community and encourage faculty, staff, and students alike to participate in the effort so our behaviors match the efforts from our physical plant, recycling manager, and others. It takes the entire community to live lightly.

If you had three wishes for how to change campus, what would they be?

1. Cohesive info around campus for more community knowledge about what the campus is already doing.
2. Greater awareness around why and how sustainability is an issue of social justice. Sustainable decisions (like using less energy, buying fewer things, and producing less trash) make the most impact on the poor and oppressed both in our neighborhood and around the globe. Consider the St. Francis Pledge:
3. Re-work buildings like the Village C's and Leavey so that they do not become heat traps in certain times of the year.

What's a really common myth about sustainability at GU that needs to be debunked?

I hear all the time that the solar panels don't work. Xavier Rivera, our Director of Energy and Utilities, can tell us differently! While they do not produce as much energy as when they were installed, the panels do still work. Any new panels have to be specially made, so we do not always replace broken panels with new panels. But the total capacity is still 2/3 of what is was when installed many years ago.

What's the most important thing for Hoyas to do as individuals?

Become aware of consequences of each action, and ensure actions result in the consequences that are of best service to themselves and the community.

And now for a fun question: If you could be an animal (any one at all), which would you be?

A koala. Then maybe I'd eat more greens and less sweets!

Stay tuned over the next few weeks for more interviews!

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