'What Sustainability Means to Me' ...

Grace BellWe have talked about the LEED certification and what it means to this university, what it means for University Circle, and what it means to this city, but it also means a great deal to the 800 student residents who have the honor and privilege of calling these buildings home. So, welcome to our home. As a student resident myself I can assure you that this will probably be the nicest apartment I will live in for quite some time. A full kitchen, including a dishwasher (because we all know college students do not do their own dishes), private bedrooms, a spacious living room. But in addition to these first-class amenities the buildings have also proven to be first class for our environment and for our mission.

As residents of Cleveland, we are all working to make this "a green city on a blue lake." President Snyder and the CWRU administration have identified sustainability as one of our university's most important issues moving forward in our strategic plan. And as student residents, we have aided in this effort by "using less, recycling the rest." We recently completed our participation in Recyclemania, an eight-week challenge between universities to see who could recycle and reduce waste the most. During this time, CWRU students became active members of their University Circle, city, and world community by pro-actively recycling. One floor (approximately 30 first-year men) recycled 212 pounds during three weeks of Recyclemania.

In addition to this active participation, CWRU students live a sustainable lifestyle – even when they do not realize it. CWRU's dining partner, Bon Appétit, is actively working to reduce their carbon footprint by purchasing local products. Now, proven by this award, our upperclass residents are also living sustainably. The famous lake-effect precipitation is collected off the residence hall roofs and the water is re-used to irrigate the university grounds. Special materials on the north and east walls keep the village cool during the hot summer months, while keeping the air conditioning costs low – and yes, there is air conditioning in the Village. And, yes, it is more effective than your window box fan.

The most noticeable difference for the Village buildings is the bathrooms. Not only do we have "environmentally friendly" low-flush toilets, but we also have automatic lights. Now for the LEED certifiers, this means that the lights cannot be left on if the room is not in use. But for the students who live in the Village, it means two things: first, no more searching for the light switch; and second, if you are in the shower for more than seven minutes you will find yourself showering in the dark. Yes, this may be a way to keep showers shorter for water conservation, but don’t worry; all you need to do is wave an arm by the sensor and you'll be in the light again.

These automatic lights, water collection roofs, and sun-reflecting walls are just three of the 27 ways CWRU has built the first LEED sustainable residence hall in the city of Cleveland and also the first LEED-certified sustainable building in University Circle. This is the first step in a new generation of design for CWRU housing, as well as for the Cleveland community. With 40 percent less energy consumption than the average building, CWRU upperclass residence halls are proof that we can all "do good and live well." When I was in high school, my father made my brothers and I switch from paper bags to lunch boxes because using one paper bag a day was not good for the environment. Now as a college student, as I have made my own choices, I am proud to say that I continue to live sustainably through my lunch boxes, but I also live sustainably in my dining choice and my apartment selection. As a resident of the Village at 115, the President of the Residence Hall Association, and a representative of this student body, I am proud to receive this award for our choice to be environmental LEEDers in many facets of our life.

- Presented by Grace Bell, 2008-2009 President, Case Resident Hall Association