Friday, January 25, 2008

Community unites to sustain Winona

By Sean O’Brien
News Editor

Conserving energy and becoming “sustainable” have become popular missions recently, especially for large corporations that can potentially earn greater social respect and energy cost savings.

What does not happen very often is an entire city deciding to become sustainable, but Winona collectively has decided to take up that challenge.
The city of Winona, Winona County, Minnesota State College - Southeast Technical, Winona State University, Saint Mary’s University, and the Winona School Board have all joined together to make Winona, and its respective institutions a more environmentally responsible.

The “Sustain Winona” joint mission seeks to implement current energy-saving techniques and invest money into new ones in order to make Winona a healthier, better city to live in. Their goal is to achieve a certification known as ISO 14001, an international standard for sustainable living that many large corporations and universities have begun to adopt.

Sustain Winona has nine core goals to adhere to in order to guide them through the process of becoming more sustainable. From researching and implementing renewable energy sources to new environmentally-friendly public transport systems, the program is far reaching and expansive. “These goals are all a bunch of little changes, and that’s the key. If everyone can just make little changes together, it will result in one big change. It’s an exciting process with a lot of possibilities,” said Chris Kendall, SMU vice president for student development.

The process of implementing these new standards is done through a joint committee with representatives from all the participants in the program as well as site-specific committees to implement respective changes. SMU has already begun this process with visible changes on campus. The new red maintenance trucks on campus are electric, and SMU has also invested in technologies to create and use the bio-diesel fuel. These changes are not only environmentally friendly, but fiscally responsible as well.

“All of the changes we have made so far will pay for themselves in 5 years or less, and that’s something we are looking forward to,” said Kendall. “If we can improve ourselves environmentally, but have it at a cost that can be reimbursed in a short time period, that’s ideal.

“We feel that this is a unique situation to make Winona, and therefore Saint Mary’s, a better place to live in. Becoming sustainable and spending less on energy costs not only saves money but is something that promotes our mission,” said Kendall.

Readers are encouraged to visit to learn more about the Sustain Winona program.

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