2012 Sustainable Schools Summit

From left, RIC President Nancy Carriuolo and U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

From left, RIC President Nancy Carriuolo and U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse spoke at a gathering of approximately 200 people at the 2012 Sustainable Schools Summit, held Nov. 2 at Rhode Island College and offered in conjunction with the Apeiron Institute for Sustainable Living.

Whitehouse said that even in a place as sophisticated and well-informed as the U.S. Senate, some lawmakers deny science, dismissing global warming as a hoax. "That is why schools have to be places where the real story is told,” he said.

RIC plays a leading role in telling that story. Now in its fifth year, RIC’s Sustainable Schools Summit drew more attendees than ever from across the state, including educators, the business community, energy-related enterprises and representatives of state government, said Mark DeMoranville, interim executive director of Apeiron.

They came to the daylong summit to learn more about incorporating sustainable or green techniques into their businesses and into their homes. Topics covered included resources for teaching climate change, waste reduction in schools, energy efficiency, carbon cycle simulation and green building protocols in Rhode Island.

Attendees browse display tables.

Among businesses with exhibits on display were National Grid, People’s Power & Light, the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority and the R.I. Green Building Council. Hasbro, based in Pawtucket, exhibited redesigned cans of Play-Doh made of a cardboard-like, more sustainable material.

RIC President Nancy Carriuolo, who gave welcoming remarks, said that green initiatives on campus began before she became president, but she’s worked to strengthen and expand those efforts because she’s been a supporter of what is now known as recycling and sustainability since she was a child. She grew up on a farm in upstate New York where she said "nothing was thrown away," including "tin foil,” and the family raised most of its own food. 

Under her watch and under the direction of the college’s sustainability coordinator, James Murphy, RIC now has a community garden, two beehives for the production of honey and participates in a farmer’s market with the Fruit Hill Neighborhood Association.

Others who spoke at the summit were U.S. Reps. David Cicilline and ’90 James Langevin; Christopher Kearns, programming service officer for the state Office of Energy Resources; David Abbott, acting state commissioner of education; and Curt Spalding, New England administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.