Promoting a culture of urban environmental sustainability is a central goal of the college’s Summit Strategic Plan, and it’s pretty much the job description for Rosangelica Rodriguez ’15, M’18.

Hired this summer as Trinity’s first sustainability coordinator, Rodriguez says her main goal is to galvanize the energy and interest among students, faculty, and staff and the administration in taking on sustainability initiatives.

Being visible and accessible to all those campus constituents is a big part of her job, so Rodriguez spends her mornings in the facilities building and her afternoons in the Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement. “I want people to know I’m here, and that I’m taking their ideas seriously,” she says.

Though she’s been on the job less than two months, Rodriguez is busy setting up a large-scale composting program to augment smaller composting efforts and working on a sustainability calendar for October that will include information on farmer’s markets, local cleanups, and second-hand shops. For the future, she plans to add more stations for filling water bottles and charging electric cars, and, on a broader scale, she will develop a campus-wide sustainability plan.

“Trinity and Hartford have given me so much, I want to stay and give back,” says Rodriguez, who holds a B.S. in environmental science and an M.A. in American studies from Trinity. Before accepting her current position, she was program coordinator at the college’s Trinfo Café, a cyber café and community center that connects Hartford residents with Trinity students, faculty, and staff for the benefit of all.

It is her “unique toolbox” that makes Rodriguez the right candidate for the position, says Tom Wickman, associate professor of history and American studies and a member of the sustainability committee that led the coordinator search. “She has a proven track record of building relationships,” says Wickman.

And building relationships is exactly what is needed to achieve the college’s sustainability goals, says Trinna Larsen ’20, SGA sustainability liaison, member of the sustainability committee, and co-president of TREEhouse, a campus environmental group. “Without a shift in Trinity’s culture among all constituents, we won’t be impactful.”

Though there is much to do, Rodriguez is quick to point out the work that has been done. “Many sustainability initiatives aren’t pretty to look at, easy to explain, or apparent,” she says.

One significant sign of progress was the installation in February of a 1.4 megawatt fuel-cell plant on campus as an example. Located adjacent to Ferris Athletic Center, the plant is now up and running, and it generates 40 percent of the college’s electricity and steam heat using an electrochemical reaction for power generation.

This process is cleaner than normal generation on the national grid, says Assistant Vice President, Construction, Facilities and Operations Tom Fusciello (who led the project), and is substantially reducing the emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants. It’s also saving the college several hundred thousand dollars in energy costs.

And recently, the Crescent Street Townhouses, built in 2012-14 to house 350 students, were recertified as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum, the highest verification of green building given by the U.S. Green Building Council.

“That’s a lot to be proud of,” says Rodriguez.

 

Written by Mary Howard