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Gov. Quinn expresses gratitude to UI for efforts in sustainability

Gov. Pat Quinn spoke about sustainability issues Friday at the University Sustainability Symposium. The symposium, held by University’s Office of Sustainability, serves as a forum to discuss green technology and concerns about energy.

After Quinn’s speech, the University agreed to the terms in the new Campus Sustainability Compact and became the first institution in Illinois to sign it.

“There is no better place to start going green than at the university level,” Quinn said. “When people come to our universities we want them to find the greenest campuses in the country.”

The new compact, which holds the signatures of Chancellor Robert Easter, President Michael Hogan and Gov. Quinn, is a renewal of a 2005 initiative signed by 81 schools statewide. It holds the University responsible for areas of sustainability including operations, research and academics.

“Our goal is to integrate sustainability into all areas of campus life,” Hogan said.

Quinn stressed the importance of investment in the green economy.

“We need to commit ourselves to the green way because it is the way to create jobs that last a lifetime,” Quinn said.

Both Quinn and Easter gave accolades to students that voted in favor of a referendum to increase the fee for sustainability spending.

“In the 2010 student elections, the students passed a referendum on campus sustainability that raised the fee from $5 to $14,” Easter said.

Seventy-seven percent of the student vote supported the increase, which followed a referendum passed back in 2003, Easter added.

Rebecca Rossi, the Director of the Green Institute at Heartland Community College, said Quinn’s speech left uncertainty about what measures he would take to push for a green economy.

“[Quinn] is right in that we can lead the way and that we face significant challenges,” Rossi said. “But I would like to hear more about how exactly he is going to create a friendlier business climate to push renewables and the green economy.”

Quinn reiterated his previous discussions about going green.

“Last year at the University of Illinois’ Chicago campus I signed a law that commits the state to having 6% of its energy come from solar power,” Quinn said. “We really do believe in the green economy because jobs in the green economy do not get exported.”

Grace Kenney, a junior in Fine and Applied Arts, said she was impressed with Quinn’s speech.

“I was quite impressed because he had quite a few impactful statements,” Kenney said. “I’m happy he wants a green campus, but those are words. I want to see action.”

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