Hopkins shuttles that run on biodiesel fuels, "green"
roofs, the use of recycled storm water and training in the
use of organic fertilizers are just some of the practices
that will be proposed and championed by the new Johns
Hopkins University Sustainability Committee.
The 16-member committee, which was officially convened
in September by President William R. Brody and had its
first meeting in November, will head a universitywide
effort to greatly improve Johns Hopkins' environmental
Davis Bookhart, manager of Energy Management and
Environmental Stewardship in the Office of
Facilities Management, will chair the
presidential-level committee that contains members from the
nine academic divisions, the Applied Physics Laboratory and
the Sheridan Libraries. Bookhart was hired last March 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, Mount
Washington, Peabody and Washington, D.C., campuses.
The hire of Bookhart and the creation of this
committee are part of the overall JHU
Sustainability Initiative that seeks to make Johns
Hopkins a showpiece of environmental leadership by
demonstrating smart, sensible and creative actions that
promote the vision of sustainability.
Bookhart said that with the JHU Sustainability
Committee, the university now has a unifying voice for
environmentally conscious and clean energy-focused
"This is a very important step for us to take. With
the committee's charge coming directly from the president,
it shows how truly committed this university is to
addressing sustainability and making it a top priority,"
Bookhart said. "The creation of this universitywide
committee also makes a lot of practical sense. We are a
decentralized institution, and this committee will bring us
together as one as we seek to reduce our energy costs and
decrease our environmental footprint."
The main goal of the committee, which meets bimonthly,
will be to identify areas of sustainability success in each
division that can be replicated in others. The committee
will also develop projects that can provide savings and
improved environmental performance; secure volunteers for
special events, such as conferences; and raise awareness of
environmental improvements under way or already
Some areas of focus for the committee will be energy
efficiency measures, water conservation, recycling, storm
water management, transportation fuels, alternative
commuting options, and outreach and training efforts, such
as workshops and seminars on green practices.
Larry Kilduff, executive director of the Office of
Facilities Management and a committee member, said an
important role of the committee will be involving community
members and educating them on sustainability issues.
"For one, we are looking at more ways to solicit and
involve the student body," Kilduff said.
Bookhart said that the university has already taken
significant steps toward its sustainability goals, such as
implementing some green grounds keeping and pest management
practices and adopting green designs for renovations or new
buildings, notably some of the newer research buildings
within the School of Medicine. On a larger front, the
university is looking into adopting LEED (Leadership in
Energy and Environmental Design) building standards for
some new and existing buildings. Common features of
LEED-certified buildings are the abundant use of natural
lighting and solar energy, automated systems that conserve
energy, excellent indoor air quality, green roofs that
reduce and filter storm water runoff, recycled building
materials and the use of products such as paint and
cleaning supplies that are environmentally friendly.
Kilduff said that buildings of this nature may result
in some features that represent premiums, but those costs
are typically recouped many times over in long-term
savings. The committee will need to collect more
information to determine when and where such projects make
economic sense, taking into account the entire "life cycle"
of the building.
The university is also nearing an agreement to bring
the national Flexcar program to Baltimore by hosting a
number of cars on the Homewood campus. The program, which
allows members to share vehicles, will feature
environmentally friendly hybrid cars. Johns Hopkins'
Flexcar program would begin in February and be open to all
JHU affiliates and members of the surrounding
Bookhart said that the university is also working on a
partnership with a dairy farm in Westminster, Md., that
will allow Johns Hopkins to purchase significant chunks of
renewable energy from manure-produced methane. The project
also will be used as a learning tool for members of the
university and will include ways for students to assess
related engineering, public health and business issues.
"All of these efforts are based on sustainability, but
they are also smart business moves," Bookhart said. "Energy
costs are increasing at a significant rate, and by looking
into these alternative water and energy resources, we can
position ourselves to save a lot of money and help protect
the environment at the same time."
Ultimately, Bookhart said, the committee hopes to
present Johns Hopkins as a national model for
energy-efficient and green practices.
"By sharing ideas and implanting what works, we can
develop standards that other institutions can strive
toward," Bookhart said. "Every little bit contributes.
There's no silver bullet that will bring us more in line
with our vision of sustainability. It's a whole portfolio
of approaches and practices that will get us there."
For more information about the initiative, including a
list of committee members, go to