UNCG Campus Weekly

Campus Weekly is published each Wednesday when classes are in session. In the summer, it is published biweekly.

Trey McDonald talks whales, sustainability, Climate Action Plan, and how he fared in those 5Ks

Trey McDonald moves fast. Those following the News and Record’s running blog knows he tied for first in the inaugural Greensboro Race Series. He explains that he lettered in swimming at Auburn, but running is so much simpler. “You throw on your shoes and your shirt,” head out the door, and you’re ready to train.

Being outdoors is good. As he finished his Auburn marine biology undergraduate work and headed to grad school, he envisioned becoming a research scientist, doing acoustic work with large whales. But after dealing with funding issues with one project after another, he took a break, working with an environmental consulting firm, and saw environmental laws up-close. “There has to be a better way,” he thought. And his graduate education and career took an entirely different trajectory.

McDonald is UNCG’s sustainability coordinator. He came to UNCG from the University of Richmond, where he held the same position.

At Richmond and now at UNCG, he sometimes breaks the ice at presentations by talking about his work with whales – “I have a lot of experience with large, slow-moving creatures” – and humorously notes the traditional university bureaucracy, which can sometimes be as slow-paced if not as awe-inspiring.

He and Jessica Trotman in the Sustainability office have groups of initiatives underway. The Green Office program. Green Teams. Spartan Sparks. The “vampire energy slayers” educating individuals in each building about small things that can save energy, like putting their computers in sleep or hibernate mode during the day when they’re not in use.

And of course a big news item of the semester was Chancellor Brady signing the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.

Work on the campus’ Climate Action Plan is beginning. “We want to get representatives across campus,” he says, as the plan is compiled. This spring will be a time for idea generation and investigating. The summer will be a time for rough drafts and for team reviews, and second drafts. If all goes ideally, they’ll present the plan to the chancellor and Executive Staff next winter.

Well, that’s pretty fast moving, for a large effort. “We need to carbon neutral by 2050,” McDonald says. There’s no time to waste.

More information is at http://www.uncg.edu/fac/sustainability/

By Mike Harris