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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University April 17, 2006 | Vol. 35 No. 30
University Names Steward for Sustainability Initiatives

Davis Bookhart will guide efforts at the Homewood, Eastern, Mt. Washington, Peabody and Washington campuses. Behind him here: Homewood's recycling center.

By Amy Lunday

Johns Hopkins has a new guide to all things green: Davis Bookhart, manager of Energy Management and Environmental Stewardship.

In his newly created position, Bookhart's charge is to develop sustainability initiatives that conserve electricity, curb water usage and encourage recycling, while creating a general level of excitement about ecological initiatives, at the Homewood, Eastern, Mt. Washington, Peabody and Washington campuses.

"We are thrilled that Davis accepted this position," said Larry Kilduff, executive director of the Office of Facilities Management. "His knowledge and experience will move us forward at a faster pace on a broad variety of initiatives related to greening and conservation."

The key to success, Bookhart said, will be the integrated involvement of faculty, staff and especially students, who are perhaps the most enthusiastic when it comes to embracing the changes necessary to reducing the university's environmental footprint. One of Bookhart's first strategies is to engage the students on the Homewood campus, where his office is located.

"Our undergraduates are our greatest resource, especially those with energy and ideas," Bookhart said. "After all, they were the ones who got the recycling program off the ground. My job is to foster that spirit and tap into the great brain power on our campuses."

Students in groups such as Students for Environmental Action and, more recently, Engineers for a Sustainable World have long been supporters of the "greening" of the campus, as have many faculty.

Faculty within the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering are particularly concerned with issues of sustainability in energy, public health and environmental degradation, and many say they are particularly pleased to see the university making a serious commitment to the sustainabilty issue.

William Ball and Alan Stone, professors of environmental engineering, have already met with Bookhart and offered to do what they can to help with promoting the activity and involving students and faculty. Possible ideas include engineering student design projects and student assistance with such projects as wash water reuse, campus energy audits, installation of battery recycling stations and perhaps even the creation of some "green" roofs. Ball, who is also faculty adviser for the Hopkins chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World, said that he was "simply delighted" to hear of Bookhart's hire. "More environmentally friendly operations on campus will not only reduce costs at JHU, but they should also reduce some additional, and unaccounted-for, environmental costs of our activities," said Ball. "In these and other regards, the academic campus should strive to be a model for society in general."

A cost-effective example of saving money while saving the planet, Bookhart said, would be modifying all the soda vending machines at Homewood so that their compressors aren't running 24 hours a day to keep all the cans inside icy cold when few people are buying soda, say at 3 a.m. in Gilman Hall. The machines could all be outfitted with a sensor that shifts its cooling mechanism to accommodate high-traffic times without wasting energy in the off-hours, Bookhart said.

"Something like that could save $75 to $100 per year," Bookhart said. "It doesn't sound like much when you are talking about just one machine, but there are close to 100 of those machines all over campus."

To spread the word about such simple good things, Bookhart is working to create a marketing campaign that would include stickers with a logo and slogan that would alert passersby when a fiscally and earth-friendly win-win is happening right under their noses.

"We need to highlight our successes to show that we are moving in the right direction and always looking to do things in a better way," Bookhart said. "I want people to come to me with their ideas because they know we are making progress."

A graduate of the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, Bookhart holds a master's degree in international affairs from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Before joining the Office of Facilities Management at Homewood last month, Bookhart was already active in local conservation efforts. He's president of Charm21--Clean and Healthy Air through Renewables in Maryland, a nonprofit group advocating the use of renewable fuels and resources in the Baltimore region. Bookhart also has worked with the Baltimore-based, which develops clean-emission fleet industry services, and East Coast Organics, also in Baltimore, which promotes organic gardening to nurseries and garden centers. On a national level, Bookhart was senior project director of the public interest group Consumer Energy Council of America.

Blake Hough, vice president of the Homewood-based Students for Environmental Action, said the group is "thrilled" that Bookhart will be putting his experience to work for Hopkins. Some projects on which Hough said SEA hopes to work with him are energy competitions between dorms and/or departments, more sustainable water management, energy production on campus and purchasing green power.

"We have been pushing for the creation of such a position for some time, and it is fantastic to have the university on board," Hough said. "Davis' energy and passion for facilitating the transition to a more sustainable Hopkins crashed head on with mine at our first introduction, and [he] continues to encourage new ideas with heartening speed."


Today: Dump on the Quad

In honor of Earth Day, April 22, Students for Environmental Action is hosting a series of activities to encourage campus sustainability. The events kick off today, April 17, with Dump on the Quad, scheduled for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the Keyser Quadrangle. Everyone is invited to watch or help sort through trash from the residence halls to separate recyclables, and also to drop off plastic grocery bags, old electronic devices, dead batteries and the like. For a complete list of events, go to


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