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University Hires Sustainability Director

Priorities include recycling, eco-efficiency


Architect Dennis Carlberg (above), a former Arrowstreet senior designer and project manager, is Boston University’s new sustainability director. Photo by Shelly Harrison. (Below) Facilities Management recently installed recycling bins behind the brownstones on Bay State Road.

In an ongoing effort to make Boston University more eco-friendly, University leaders have hired the school’s first director of sustainability. Dennis Carlberg, an architect and a former senior designer and project manager at the Somerville, Mass., architectural firm Arrowstreet, started his new job two weeks ago.

“Dennis launched a career in sustainable design long before it was fashionable,” says Gary Nicksa, the University’s vice president for operations. “He is committed both personally and professionally to bringing together BU’s sustainability efforts in the areas of academics, research, and administration.”

As sustainability director, Carlberg is responsible for the development, implementation, and promotion of sustainability strategies. He will provide outreach to local and national organizations and funding agencies and will oversee the BU Sustainability Committee, established by President Robert A. Brown last fall. Made up of faculty members, staff, and students, the committee works to reduce energy consumption and decrease waste across campus by concentrating on four crucial areas: recycling and waste management, energy efficiency, sustainable building development and operations, and communications, education, and outreach. Carlberg will serve on all four steering committees and will cochair the communications group.

“BU has already made impressive strides toward achieving a sustainable campus,” he says. “But too few people know about it. A large portion of my job entails putting out the word and alerting students, faculty, and staff of different ways they can contribute toward the University’s endeavors. For example, Facilities Management recently installed four recycling bins behind the brownstones on Bay State Road, an area where recycling was previously unavailable. Because recycling is not available campus-wide, it is crucial that we get out the message when it becomes available in new places.”

In the coming weeks, says Carlberg, the University will participate in Recycle Mania, a nationwide recycling contest among colleges and universities. “We’ll track ourselves against the other schools in the benchmark division this year,” he says. “That way we’ll have a solid place from which to launch ourselves next year.”

With energy consumption and costs on the rise, the new director says, investing in sustainable technologies makes sense both environmentally and fiscally. “Ultimately,” he says, “we have to ensure that whatever decisions we make today will not adversely affect future generations.”

At Arrowstreet, Carlberg’s designs ranged from retail centers and housing projects to hotels, theaters, and concert halls. He also established the firm’s sustainable design committee, which educates and promotes the use of sustainable design strategies company-wide. He is accredited by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System, a third-party certification program that provides standards for environmentally sustainable construction. He holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in architecture from MIT.

Vicky Waltz can be reached at vwaltz@bu.edu.


8 Comments on University Hires Sustainability Director

  • recycling enthusiast on 01.27.2009 at 9:38 am

    email address?

    Great to have Dennis on campus. Could you share an email address on campus so that people can be in touch? Thank you.

  • Anonymous on 01.27.2009 at 10:30 am

    Good news

    Hooray! I am looking forward to having recycling facilities in every building on campus as soon as possible. Then I can stop lugging my recyclables home and we can empty the large bin of beverage bottles that have been accumulating in the lobby of our lab for the past year.

  • Anonymous on 01.27.2009 at 12:50 pm


    I thought there was a hiring freeze?

  • Patty Mac (Michaelyan) on 01.27.2009 at 12:55 pm

    This is a step in the right direction, but it’s ultimately about benchmarks and comparing BU to the top dogs in the Boston area (i.e. Harvard and MIT).

    I look forward to speaking the the new director of sustainability myself, and I’ll pick his brain like it’s my job, then we’ll see where this University is really headed in terms of approaching “sustainability.”

    In the meantime, recycle, use energy efficiently in your own lives, compost, spread the “good word” and always think of the consequences to your actions.

  • John J. Aslanian on 01.27.2009 at 9:19 pm

    A Tangible Commitment...

    I applaud the decision to create and fill this position and consider it a ‘sneak peak’ at the BU of the future.

    With a hiring freeze (excluding positions of vital importance- such as this) and fiscal responsibility at the top of any university-wide discussion, the addition of a dedicated sustainability coordinator will allow the university to reexamine its purchases and practices and, as a result, provide an improved environmental experience on campus while promoting affordable, responsible alternatives to ‘the way things have always been done’.

    Combined with the edification of the new geothermal International Programs building at 888 Commonwealth Ave. (http://www.bu.edu/today/2009/01/13/bu-goes-center-earth), the increased prominence of the BU Energy Club (http://people.bu.edu/buenergy/), and the creation of bike lanes and safer sidewalks (http://www.bu.edu/green/), our university is showing how an urban environment can healthy, vigorous and sustainable.

    Great step forward!

  • Anonymous on 01.27.2009 at 11:05 pm

    Re: Hiring?

    From what I heard during Environmental Student Organization meetings, this hiring has been in the works for quite some time – it’s not as thought this came out the blue just yesterday. It was a matter of time until someone was hired, it was just a problem of figuring out who.

    So, maybe the proper way of looking at the hiring freeze is that there are no more “searches” for new hires.

  • Abhishék on 03.05.2009 at 11:21 am

    I am glad...

    I am impressed with BU’s initiative to become “greener”.

    I hope BU will become an epitome of college campuses, surpassing the current green rankings and fulfilling the role of the “Ideal Sustainable College”.

    (In the interim of this ambitious goal, I believe we should become a role model, at least for the 76 other colleges in Boston, and in the surrounding areas.)


  • Climatarians on 05.03.2009 at 10:44 am


    with mr. Dennis Carlberg coordinating sustainable efforts at your university.

    Kind regards,
    Joost Hoogstrate / http://climatarians.org

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