By Erica Rakowicz

Madonna University’s Franciscan Center, Livonia’s first building certified in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), held its first ever Sustainability Conference.

Oct. 4 brought sustainable advocates and interested professionals together for a daylong conference.

“That Madonna is celebrating its 75th anniversary and Oct. 4 is the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology, made the choice of date and location all the more logical.  It also coincides with this year's Franciscan symposium at Madonna,” said Charles Morris, Co-chair of the Sustainability Task Force.

Many experienced professionals talked about their causes and distributed knowledge in the form of presentations, fliers, exhibition booths and workshops.

Organizations across Michigan met to educate each other about the new and old problems and solutions in regard to sustainable living. Representatives provided brochures and engaged on-lookers in discussion and some businesses had email lists available for interested guests to sign to receive more information in the future.

With the opening of the Franciscan Center in 2010, Madonna’s main goal was to become a more sustainable university that appealed to students.

In the 2012 release addressing the building’s gold LEED certification, Sister Rose Marie Kujawa, Madonna University President, said, ““When we developed plans for the Franciscan Center, we not only wanted to build a state-of-the-art facility for our students, we also wanted to do so in a way that was friendly to our environment and that testified to our seriousness of purpose regarding the Franciscan value of reverence for creation.”

With that idea still intact, Madonna pushes forward with sustainability ideas.

Initial plans for Madonna’s future in sustainability are still being vetted, said David Houle, Associate Vice President for Facilities Planning and Management.

One of the ideas being carefully tossed around deals with basic recycling with the help of new receptacles for disposal.

Houle says the proposed plan will require a group effort from Madonna staff and students.

Houle hopes to have different zones around campus, multiple in each building, where easy access to recycling bins and sorting areas are available.

He stresses that “we only have one home” and must keep it intact and work toward a greener future.

Eventually, more sustainable flooring, cleaning and general way of functioning throughout the university will be further addressed, but the recycling plan will soon reach a circulation before being put into effect what does reach a circulation mean?.

Additionally, there’s a growing Ecological Volunteer Organization (EVO) at Madonna.

With many realizing the necessity of a greener university, input throughout the university is necessary.

“Sustainability is not a new idea at MU, but some of the efforts are.  I’m looking forward to new recycling efforts being put in place this academic year by our facilities and operations folks.  It will give not only our faculty and staff, but our students, an opportunity to participate and make a difference for our university and our community,” said Dina DuBuis, Registrar.

Additionally, Mark Clevey from the State Energy Office proposed new developments and opportunities to those who attended his breakout session during the conference.

The conference reiterated the importance of an environmentally friendly school and offered information students and professionals alike could learn from to create more sustainable lives for themselves.

“My hope is that the faith community will go home energized, meet new friends, garner resources where they can take next steps and help make our voice heard with a bit more clarity in the public square,” Morris said.


Minds work together for greener future