STILLPOINT Archive: last updated 07/24/2008
Caring for Creation
Our science faculty and students have long been engaged with environmental issues. Chemistry professor Irv Levy along with his colleagues Dwight Tshudy and Emily Jarvis are responsible for Gordon's reputation for being on the cutting edge of green chemistry, which is concerned with designing materials and processes safe for human health and the environment. Biology professor Dorothy Boorse and her colleagues Ming Zheng and Dan Johnson are currently on a student research committee studying sustainable agriculture in Honduras. Our location in New England also provides opportunities for research related to the marine environment, including the efforts of Chuck Blend and his students to better understand the deaths of Great Eiders (large seaducks) off the coast. Such projects will be enhanced by resources available in the KOSC such as the new ecology laboratory's geographic information system (GIS), which will aid the migratory songbird research of Greg Keller.
But being environmentally responsible is by no means limited to the classrooms or laboratories here at Gordon. Last year, for example, the student group Advocates for a Sustainable Future (ASF) took responsibility for a number of conservation and recycling initiatives (www.gordon.edu/asf). Our Physical Plant staff continue to take a leadership role in demonstrating environmental responsibility from a Christian perspective (www.gordon.edu/restorecreation). Such efforts, combined with the ongoing work of faculty and students in the natural sciences, are contributing to a comprehensive, campus-wide awareness of the importance of caring for creation.
Evangelicals have not always been in the forefront of environmental education or had a meaningful voice in environmental issues. Some of us, in fact, have been part of the problem. But this is changing--and for the better. In 2006 I was among the 85 evangelical leaders who signed the Statement of the Evangelical Climate Initiative (www.christiansandclimate.org/statement). This evangelical call to action was made in recognition of an opportunity and responsibility to offer a biblically based moral witness; a witness helping to shape public policy in this country and thereby contributing to the well-being of others beyond our borders. In particular, poor nations and individuals have few resources to cope with the major environmental challenges posed by climate change and other threats.
Taking environmentally responsible positions is part of every Christian's mandate from our Creator God, who commands us, like Adam, to tend and keep this garden that is the Earth; who, through Noah, preserved species destined for extinction; and who, through the Sabbath principles of Exodus and Leviticus, requires that land and livestock not be relentlessly pressed but given rest.
As John Calvin once said, "Let him who possesses a field, so partake of its yearly fruits, that he may not suffer the ground to be injured by his negligence; but let him endeavor to hand it down to posterity as he received it. . . . Let everyone regard himself as the steward of God in all things which he possesses." The new Ken Olsen Science Center will help us live out this mandate, which is not only our responsibility but our joy.
R. Judson Carlberg, Ph.D.
The Ken Olsen Center
Green features of the new science building include: roof slate made from recycled plastic products; window glass with a low-E coating and argon filled for energy efficiency; carpets and all interior paints, finishes and stains have low VOC's (volatile organic compounds) for better indoor air quality.
Chase Hall, at 58,000 square feet with housing for 166 students and three classrooms, uses about the same amount of energy as the much-smaller Sheppard Hall, with 18,000 square feet, housing 90 students.
Lighting projects have been completed in many existing campus buildings including the Bennett Center. The lights generally pay for themselves in a year, and their use will substantially reduce the amount of electricity we consume.