JMU going, giving green for sustainability

From: Public Affairs


Oct. 23, 2008

It's one thing to preach about sustainability. But on Wednesday morning, October 22, James Madison University showed its commitment to environmental stewardship by putting its money—and its hands—where its mound is. Mound of garbage, that is.

Thirty representatives from health classes, JMU EARTH and the Institute for Stewardship of the Natural World braved stinging cold and stinky smells to do the school's dirty work in front of the Integrated Science and Technology complex. Students, with guidance from ISNW faculty and JMU Recycling personnel, sorted through three piles of trash, each representing one day's worth of waste from a residence hall, an office building and the University Recreation Center.

The results might surprise. In all, about half of the trash collected was recyclable. But who were the worst offenders? Was it the sweaty and exhausted patrons of UREC, students too busy studying in their rooms to recycle? Nope.

By a substantial margin, the office building had the most recyclable material wind up in their trash bins. But those faculty members and employees will get the chance to redeem themselves during the Recyclemania Waste Minimization Tournament, a contest matching colleges and universities around the nation head-to-head to see who can improve their waste reduction and recycling efforts the most over a 10-week period.

Wednesday's exercise was meant to raise awareness that everyone can improve his or her stewardship habits, said ISNW Executive Director Christie-Joy Brodrick Hartman.

"This is the kickoff to JMU's waste reduction effort, which is of one of three main areas of stewardship we're focusing on based on the American College and University President's Climate Commitment," Hartman said. " This only represents a fraction of all the trash produced on campus daily. Think of the large positive effect everyone can make by simply taking a few extra steps to use tap water instead of bottled water, use both sides of a paper and bring reusable bags instead of taking plastic bags. Finally, when it comes time to dispose of items, then use the recycling bins."

The other areas of the climate commitment are alternative transportation and energy conservation. JMU is working toward those goals as well, undertaking projects such as No Drive Day and constructing LEED-certified buildings.

It's with those values in mind that JMU Center for Entrepreneurship Director Dennis Tracz announced the biggest news of the morning.

Tracz introduced the JMU Sustainable Business Plan Competition, which is offering up to $100,000 in capital and in-kind services to a new, independent business venture in seed, start-up or early-growth stages whose business plan demonstrates a strong sustainability component.

"There's a huge opportunity in today's market for companies that emphasize sustainability in their products and business plans, and this is one of the biggest sustainable business plan competitions in the country," Tracz said. "Contestants who show a true commitment to sustainability will get a chance to share their ideas with some of the most prominent industry and economic leaders not only in the Shenandoah Valley, but in the nation."

Contest Details
A judging panel comprised of business leaders from several different sectors of the economy will select a winner and runner-up based on the viability of the venture and the strength of the sustainability component.

Each venture team must include at least one person associated with JMU as an enrolled student, an alumnus/alumna or a current employee. A JMU team member must play a major role and must own or be eligible to own equity in the venture.

Schedule and Deadlines

•Online registration deadline: Jan. 19, 2009.
•Executive summaries are due Feb. 2.
•Semifinalists announced Feb. 16.
•Business plans due March 30.
•Finalists announced April 13.
•Presentation slides due April 17.
•Competition held April 20.

To view complete competition rules and to register a team, visit the contest Web site.

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