Sustainable Practices at Saint Joseph University of Beirut

Monday, November 16, 2020

Several sustainable practice initiatives have been launched at Saint Joseph University of Beirut to implement climate action plans. These practices focus on energy saving, greenhouse gas reduction, but also include topics such as waste management, which can all have an impact on climate change.

Electric Car, Bicycles and Carpooling

Practical and innovative approaches to sustainability have been launched by the Faculty of Medicine (FM) of USJ in collaboration with the Chair “Diane Foundation” in Education for Eco-citizenship and Sustainable Development (CEEDD). The first, explains Professor Fadi Geara, Vice-Rector for Administration, “consists of banning cars on the Campus of Medical Sciences (CSM) on Damascus Road; but in order to be able to get around, especially for the elderly and people with reduced mobility who regularly visit the campus for medical tests, an electric car has been provided between the parking lots, now located in the basements of the new FM simulation building and the various laboratories.”

The second initiative of FM was the purchase of bicycles and making them available to students, so that they could travel between the CSM and the Hôtel-Dieu de France Hospital, while saving a large amount of CO2 for every kilometer traveled. 

The third initiative consists of encouraging carpooling across all campuses. In Lebanon, public transportation is scarce, which compels students to buy a car. The University, through the administration and clubs, has encouraged the use of a single car for the same trip by several drivers, taking turns to use one car.

Energy Efficiency

When a new construction site is launched at the University, says the Vice-Rector for Administration, “a study of energy supply by solar panels is required: the FM simulation center, the new Faculty of Medicine and the renovated Rectorate are equipped with photovoltaic solar panels, the Campus of Innovation and Sports and the USJ Residence are equipped with thermal solar panels”, which will provide a large and much-needed quantity of the University's annual needs in thermal and electrical energy. “Throughout the summer,” says Geara, “the diesel boiler was not used to heat the swimming pool, significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Waste Management and “Green USJ”

Since its foundation in October 2015, the Chair “Diane Foundation” in Education for Eco-citizenship and Sustainable Development (CEEDD) at USJ has been implementing the “USJ Verte” project (Green USJ). This project aims to raise awareness among the university community - students, teachers and staff - about the principles and issues of eco-citizenship and sustainable development, in order to promote good environmental practices within the University's various institutions, to carry out sustainable actions and to work towards an environmentally friendly infrastructure on campus: i. e. promoting biodiversity, sorting and recycling waste, increasing the planting rate, etc. A “Green USJ” Committee has been established by the University Council to lead an in-depth discussion on these issues. In terms of waste management, the CEEDD Chair has equipped all the University's campuses with sorting bins (clean paper and cardboard, clean metals and glass, organic waste and non-recyclable waste). The Chair collects the sorted waste and transports it to facilities involved in waste management. Several awareness-raising tools are elaborated by the Chair: videos, research projects, posters, lectures, interactive awareness-raising via social networks, etc.