April 28, 2006

Environmental Center opens doors

The University of Chicago Environmental Center (UCEC) concluded Earth Week last week by hosting an open house on Thursday, April 20.

“The purpose of the open house is to introduce the University community to the environmental groups on campus and the resources of the Environmental Center,” said Katherine Michonski, a third-year in the College and the UCEC winter coordinator.

The open house provided information on the different environmental groups on campus, including the Green Campus Initiative and the Vegan Society. The Sustainability Council, a student group that has worked to improve recycling on campus, shared a presentation on conservation that the group also gave to officials from Residence Halls and Commons.

The presentation highlighted the feasibility of a more environmentally conscious campus, said third-year Dan Schnitzer.

“[The presentation showed] what the University can do to be more sustainable and showcased sustainability at other universities,” Schnitzer said. “We showed what they do, how they do it, and what the benefits are.”

In an effort to support renewable energy sources, the University equipped student housing with more energy-efficient compact florescent light bulbs, took over battery recycling from student groups, and signed a two-year contract in January agreeing to purchase wind power for use in dorms.

Sketches exhibited during the open house acknowledged previous environmental movements in Hyde Park. Entitled “Drawings from the ’60s and ’70s,” the sketches drawn by artist Vi Fogle Uretz promoted Lorna Fermi’s campaign to control pollution from coal in Hyde Park households. Fermi formed a neighborhood watch to report buildings that burned coal at night. The center, which received the art pieces as donations, hopes to preserve and display these historic ink and charcoal drawings.

Located in the basement of Reynolds Club, the UCEC offers various resources to promote the preservation of the environment. The center provides free scrap paper, internship and graduate school information, and a library with environmentally focused books and periodicals.