Did you know that the classroom floors in St. Agnes Hall are made out of quality, decomposable plant material? Next time you are on the West side of campus, I encourage you to check out the beautiful blue tiles that make up the classrooms! These floors are just one example of what Lourdes University and the surrounding communities are doing to enhance environmental sustainability in the Toledo area. Events and projects on Lourdes campus and in the Toledo/Lucas County area, such as the Sylvania Franciscan Village Green Fund, Earth Day celebrations, the Village Wellness Fair, and the Toledo Lucas County Sustainability Commission are working to create a better environment for all residents and students in the area.

Sylvania Franciscan Village Green Fund
The Sylvania Franciscan Village Green Fund is a revolving fund that was initially donated to allow projects to be completed that would help the environment. This donated money was invested to gain interest, with a small amount being withdrawn each year to complete projects. Then, the fund will be replenished by paying back a little bit more than 100% of the cost of the finished project. Dr. Jim Minesky, Lourdes faculty member on the Sylvania/Franciscan Village Green Fund board, stated that "The hope is that the fund will never decrease."

So how do you make a proposal? And how do you know if you even have a good idea? According to Minesky, "You don't need to be an expert to make a proposal. Anyone can do it." Information can be found on the Green Fund home page, which includes information on how to submit a proposal. Furthermore, if you don't have a group to help you, the Green Fund Board and student representatives will help you find one.

What does your proposal need to include? Your proposal will include, but is not limited to, the following information: Can your project be carried out by your team? Does your project include external costs that must be contracted out? How much will the completed project save in energy, money, greenhouse gases, etc.? How fast will the project pay back the borrowed funds?

Minesky would like readers to understand that the Green Fund is not all about saving money; reducing our environmental footprint is just as important. Your proposal will be assessed by the Village Green Fund Board, which includes board members, student representatives, faculty, staff, and Sisters of St. Francis. Further information, forms, and the Village Green Fund Charter can be found at the above website. If you wish to donate to the Green Fund, additional information can also be found at the above link.

Currently, one project has been completed to date. After a proposal by the Maintenance and Facilities Departments at Lourdes University, energy efficient LED lights were installed outside of St. Francis Hall. At least two to three projects are being worked on at the moment and are expected to be submitted soon. It is undoubtedly the desire of the Sisters here at Lourdes to protect the environment. The Green Fund is just one possible tool to allow us to live up to our values. Again, the Sylvania Franciscan Village Green Fund wants anyone with an idea to come forward. The Green Fund is a good way to get involved and help your community at the same time!

Second Annual Village Wellness Fair & Earth Day
A comprehensive, holistic wellness fair will be held on April 9th from 3 to 6 PM in the Franciscan Center. This wellness fair will look at all types of sustainability: spiritual, emotional, physical, social, and environmental. The Village Wellness Committee, led by Sister Janet Doyle, will be putting on the Wellness Fair. There will be different activities and presentations for each type of sustaina-bility which aim to expose attendees to holistic health and wellness.

Keynote speaker at the Village Wellness Fair will be Dr. Victor J. Strecher. Strecher has worked for the University of Michigan, School of Public Health as a professor since 1995. He is a professor of Health Behavior and Health Education, as well as a Director for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship. 

Stay tuned to The Vitruvian for more information about Earth Day coming up in April.

Toledo Lucas County Sustainability Commission
The Toledo Lucas County Sustainability Commission works to promote sustainability in the Toledo and Lucas County areas. The Commission is chaired by Melissa Greene and includes employees of the city and county government, non-profit organizations, educational organizations, and concerned citizens. All volunteers make up the commission, which aims to develop a sustainability plan for the area. The sustainability plan looks at where the city is currently, where it wants to be, and the steps it will take to get there. Furthermore, the plan works to implement a bigger picture that leaves room for smaller and more specific ideas to be suggested and carried out.

The commission and accompanying sustainability plan stresses the three-pronged approach of the triple bottom line which includes looking at environmental, economical, and societal sustainability. The plan is not set in stone and can change as the needs of the Toledo Lucas County area change. Just like the Sylvania Franciscan Village Green Fund, the Toledo Lucas County Sustainability Commission is looking for community members to volunteer. According to Minesky, who is also a Village volunteer at the Commission, "Every major at Lourdes can get plugged into sustainability. It's a great opportunity to get involved whether that is a class project or a capstone. We're working on real world issues that are great for a portfolio."

For additional information about the Toledo Lucas County Sustainability Commission, please visit lucascountygreen.com.

Furthermore, if you wish to contact Jim Minesky, who is involved with the Sylvania Franciscan Village Green Fund, Toledo Lucas County Sustainability Commission, and the Village Wellness Fair on campus, please send him an email at jminesky@lourdes.edu.