Administration and Finance Focus

 

                                                                                                               

LEADING THE SUSTAINABILITY CHARGE

UH is serious about sustainability, and its initiative shows with the addition of two sustainability coordinators to the staff this year. Paul Brokhin and Leah Wolfthal joined the mission to make our campus more sustainable and minimize our carbon footprint. With two bright individuals focused on the cause, the university is taking its green initiatives to the next level.

Paul Brokhin, a UH graduate, joined Plant Operations in January 2011 as the Utility and Sustainability Coordinator. In his position, Brokhin acts as the plant operations liaison for utilities, sustainability and outside vendors. He is also in charge of managing utilities for the campus and preparing and carrying out sustainability projects involving energy, gas, water, recycling and others. He first got involved with the university’s sustainability initiatives when he helped determine its carbon footprint calculation as a student and was encouraged to apply for the plant operations position once it became available. Brokhin said he plans to increase our recycling rate and prepare a plan that will decrease utility usage, our carbon footprint and financial expenditures.

“We have been very diligent in involving this campus in recycling and conservation,” Brokhin said. “As everyone knows there is always room for improvement. If we truly want to achieve our goals, then we should never be satisfied with our results.”

In July, Leah Wolfthal, who received her Master’s degree in Public Administration at UH last May, joined the University Services team as Program Coordinator for Sustainability. Wolfthal has worked with the department since September 2009, starting out as the campus garden coordinator. She then took charge of the Community Learning Agricultural Sustainability Program (C.L.A.S.P.) in January 2010. In her new position, Wolfthal will step up to coordinate the direction for the university’s sustainability initiatives and the implementation of the plans to support that direction including budgeting, fundraising, workshop and volunteer program development, as well as marketing and education strategies.

Wolfthal is currently developing strategies to change the campus-wide culture and educate our students using theater, drama, poetry and social networking. She will also evaluate our progress as a campus using the Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System (STARS) from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. She said she feels sustainability is an issue that everyone should think about.

“If you care about future generations or even preserving your own way of life, you should get involved in the cause. Lifestyles are going to change drastically if we don’t curb global warming and other environmental problems,” Wolfthal said.

She said the university has made progress in setting the structures for its mission, such as the establishment of the Sustainability Task Force and the implementation of green policies. Her long term goal is to make the University of Houston a center for problem solving for sustainability, regionally to globally.

The addition of Wolfthal and Brokhin to the UH staff demonstrates the university’s commitment to sustainability and its desire to continue to make progress. Brokhin said he wants people to realize the seriousness of environmental issues and get on board.

“The time for ‘important’ when speaking of sustainability has passed,” Brokhin said. “It is now a must. With today’s technology it is easy to calculate the human impact on the environment. Thus, we must act responsibly and minimize our negative effect and preserve everything we can in order to pass it on to later generations.”

To get involved and learn more about living green on campus, visit www.uh.edu/green.