Behind the scenes with the Office of Sustainability

Image caption: Tour members climbed a ladder in Homewood’s Cordish Lacrosse Center for a visit to the green roof that insulates the building and cleans rainwater before it flows to the Chesapeake Bay.


Johns Hopkins University is getting more eco-smart every year, but much of the work is invisible. This month, the Office of Sustainability provided a behind-the-scenes look at sustainable infrastructure on two campuses. Three tours, one at Homewood and two in East Baltimore, offered Green Team staff, students, and faculty the opportunity to learn about some of the planning, engineering, and operations that make Hopkins a sustainable institution.

Andrew Cary, environmental systems specialist for the Bloomberg School of Public Health, showed off the systems that have helped the school decrease its greenhouse gas emissions by 29 percent since 2008—the equivalent to the carbon captured by a forest 10 times the size of New York's Central Park. The school also cut its domestic water consumption nearly in half compared to the all-time high in 2010. On this tour, participants learned about the lab air handlers and exhaust systems, the rain water harvesting system, and lighting upgrades that have made these reductions possible.

At Homewood, tour members traveled to the roof of the O'Connor Recreation Center, which is home to a photovoltaic solar installation that has already saved more than 1,401 tons of CO2. They also climbed a ladder in the Cordish Lacrosse Center for a visit to the green roof that insulates the building, conserving energy, and cleans rainwater before it flows to the Chesapeake Bay.

Green Team members visited another green roof in East Baltimore, at a building occupied by the Bloomberg School of Public Health. The building's owner and its property manager rely on this green roof for significant insulation, stormwater management, reduced energy and maintenance costs, prolonged roof life, beautification, and more.

These tours were part of the Eco-Smart Outing series for Green Team members. Campus sustainability is a collaborative effort that relies on allies and advocates to cultivate an eco-smart culture. The Green Team Network connects those allies and advocates through a listserv and events, empowering them with resources and connections to make incremental sustainable changes that add up to significant ones.

Via the listserv, the Office of Sustainability challenges members each month to make an incremental change for a more sustainable work or home life (for example, bringing reusable utensils when going out to eat). Those who participate are entered to win a gift card to a local business. Green Team members also are invited to bimonthly opportunities; Eco-Smart Outings, such as sustainability infrastructure tours (green roof, power plant); volunteer activities; and happy hours, which offer valuable personal and professional experiences.

Join the listserv to step up your sustainability game, supported by a community of fellow advocates.

For more Eco-Smart tips and news, connect with the Office of Sustainability on Facebook and Instagram.