University pushes forward on sustainability


File photo

The Old Capitol is shown on Monday, July 25, 2016.

As a part of the Univeristy of Iowa’s 2020 sustainability goals, officials are looking to include representatives from other departments.

By Jacob Miller

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As the University of Iowa takes a step closer to its 2020 sustainability goals, it continues to expand and incorporate different departments into its decision-making.

The Athletics Department is among them. Liz Christiansen, the UI director of the Sustainability Office, said Tony Senio, the sports turf manager for Hawkeye athletics, is the first person to represent the Athletics Department on the UI Sustainability Charter Committee.

The university created a vision for sustainability in 2010 with seven goals to be achieved by 2020. The Sustainability Charter Committee brings together people around the school to make decisions on the goals.

Even though Senio is a new face in sustainability, he is not a new face at the UI.

Since 2008, Senio’s job for the Athletics Department has meant he takes care of everything green and growing for Hawkeye athletics.

“Sustainability can be a weird thing for people,” he said. “It almost comes off as a negative word, but it’s about perspective. I feel like it’s more about doing the right thing; it’s about simplicity.”

In his position, Senio has many fellow sports turf managers at other universities that he can reach out to for advice and ideas. He said he has friends in the NFL and in Major League Baseball who are good resources for him.

He wants to be a good steward of the land, he said, and is eager to start putting ideas into action.

Another new face in sustainability is Beth Mackenzie, the new recycling coordinator for the Sustainability Office.

She has worked in the recycling industry for 11 years, starting for the city of St. Louis in 2006. She worked there for six years.

She said she helped residences in St. Louis go from hardly having any accessibility to recycling to “dramatically increasing” the waste diversion rate for the city.

Mackenzie’s job experience comes from a city government and a nonprofit background, but she said she is excited for the opportunity to work in a university setting.

“It just has a more vibrant culture that I think will be a fun opportunity to work in,” she said. “Just being around young people; young people have really great ideas and a fresh perspective on things.”

Amanda Bittorf, a marketing specialist for University Housing & Dining, is also a new member of the Sustainability Charter Committee.

She has worked at the UI for two years. Christansen said Bittorf is the first person to represent Housing & Dining on the committee.

Bittorf said she has led a number of sustainable initiatives.

“With housing about 95 percent of the first-year class, I really do think we play an instrumental role in introducing students to sustainable practices and creating habits,” she said.

A common theme among the three is that they are ready to get things done and put their sustainability ideas into action.

“I think that recycling bins and low-watt light bulbs are a great thing,” Senio said. “But I think we should do more and be expected to do more than that.”

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