Last April, I announced that the Lawrence Campus would be developing a comprehensive sustainability plan, setting measurable goals toward minimizing our negative environmental and social impacts. Today I'm pleased to share an update on that process, along with opportunities for you to get involved with sustainability initiatives in our community.
I also want to thank the more than 150 students, faculty, and staff who over the past six months have been involved in discussions to help set a more sustainable course for the University of Kansas. With guidance from a Sustainability Advisory Council, ten working groups have focused on setting goals and developing strategies to address a range of topics, including energy use, campus grounds, and waste reduction.
Throughout the process, these groups have also been discussing new opportunities for research and education that can help support future sustainability initiatives in Lawrence and on all of our campuses.
An update on the sustainability plan will be provided on Earth Day, April 22, so that we can receive additional community feedback. I want to invite you to attend the Earth Day celebration where members of the planning team will discuss key elements of the plan.
In the weeks following this event, we will be soliciting your input to ensure the plan reflects the needs and values of the entire campus community. In the meantime, you can learn more about this initiative on the Campus Sustainability Plan website. This site is being used to provide regular updates on the process, and will host the draft plan and feedback form following the draft release.
Working groups are on track to present a final draft by the end of June, incorporating feedback from the community. When complete, the plan will prioritize specific actions we should take as an institution over the next five years as part of our ongoing efforts to make sustainability an important part of our education, research, operations, and campus life.
The work on the Lawrence plan can help guide future efforts that build on what's already being done throughout the university. At the KU Medical Center, for example, campus recycling efforts are led by students, while the Edwards Campus promotes the use of video conferencing to reduce the need to drive to meetings.
As we take this important step as an institution, we must also consider our individual roles in both mitigating and adapting to environmental change. One opportunity to reduce personal impacts is by participating in the Take Charge! Challenge, which involves 16 Kansas communities.
Lawrence is currently matched against Manhattan, Kansas, in this friendly competition to save energy and money, with an energy efficiency or renewable energy community project worth up to $100,000 on the line for the winning community.
I encourage you to learn more about the steps you can take – which include attending Take Charge! events, installing compact florescent light bulbs (CFLs), and participating in local and state efficiency programs – by visiting our Take Charge! website. You also have an opportunity to have your questions about the challenge answered at a Take Charge! brownbag later this week.
Whether on campus or in the community, we all have a role to play in creating a more sustainable future. The University of Kansas is playing its part through innovative research, service-learning, and more efficient operations, and I encourage you to continue to participate in these initiatives as together we build a better tomorrow.