Inside USD

Going Green, Big Time: Catanzaro Takes Over Sustainability Efforts

Thursday, July 9, 2009

catanzaro-photoMichael Catanzaro’s commitment to the University of San Diego is epic. The 30-year-old has a pair of degrees from USD — a bachelor’s in political science and a master’s in leadership studies — bringing his tenure as a member of the USD family to an impressive 13 years, including eight as an employee in various campus departments.

Now he’s taken on a new role: Catanzaro was named interim director of sustainability in June, a position that dovetails nicely with his job title as special projects coordinator for finance and administration in the Office of the Vice President.

The university’s commitment to sustainability — one of several strategic directions initiatives set forth by USD President Mary E. Lyons — was implemented in the 2007-08 school year. A sustainability task force, representing a wide cross-section of the campus, has already implemented on-campus programs and events as well as a newsletter to promote USD’s efforts.

Catanzaro is committed to guiding the university’s efforts toward building new, sustainable habits. He’s already spoken with other colleges about their sustainability efforts, has heard opinions from people on-campus is ready to start getting more  information out to the public about USD’s commitment to a sustainable campus.

“I want to find out what our niche is,” he said. “I want to see where we can be leaders, what we can do well and be excellent in and what will be most beneficial to (USD).”

Catanzaro cited three critical areas needed for any plan to work: “The three pillars of sustainability are environmental, financial and social.” He’s pleased with what he’s already learned about USD’s efforts, which include:

  • Retraining the amount of water used to beautify the numerous spaces on campus. Catanzaro credited Roger Manion, assistant vice president for facilities management, and his staff. “The campus doesn’t require an exorbitant amount of water. Other places are talking about learning that, but we’ve done it,” Catanzaro said.
  • Energy consumption hasn’t increased on campus in the last few years, all despite an influx of new buildings on campus. Catanzaro again credits Manion and his staff for their work.
  • The Student Life Pavilion, scheduled to have its grand opening in September, is USD’s first LEED-certified building, a recognizable symbol for green building techniques.

“We’re doing some great things,” Catanzaro said. The “doing” part is what matters most to Catanzaro, who said he plans to study for a test later this year and become a LEED-certified expert. “At USD, as a Catholic institution, we have a responsibility to teach and educate about (sustainability). It’s about awareness, but it’s also about doing. You can’t just teach something, you have to show it and do it. There’s no better way for people to learn than by experiencing and doing. We need to be leaders in terms of how we do things and then how we educate people about how we do them.” 

— Ryan T. Blystone

To learn more about USD’s commitment to sustainability, click here.

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