Aimee Lemrise is SIU’s new sustainability director
CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s commitment to sustainability, one of the five pillars of the Imagine 2030 strategic plan, remains robust and is getting stronger with the recent hiring of Aimee Lemrise as the director of sustainability.
“My roots and commitment to sustainability go back to my childhood,” said Lemrise, a double alumna of SIU, “but they were really ignited in graduate school, working on local food systems research while also interning on an ecological farm. So I am excited to be in this role and look forward to the opportunities the Office of Sustainability can provide to the campus community.”
Lifelong commitment to sustainability
Lemrise earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in geography and environmental resources at SIU, and during that time, discovered she enjoyed working with students. After completing her graduate degree, she launched an academic advisement career. She served in that capacity for several units at SIU, including liberal arts, University College, aviation management and flight, and automotive technology. She also taught geography courses at John A. Logan College and student success courses at SIU and Logan. She also served as co-adviser for Phi Theta Kappa honor society.
Her love of the environment has remained with her. She served as president and board member for the nonprofit organization Food Works and was a member of the Southern Illinois Community Food Assessment for Jackson and Union counties.
She and her husband also manage six acres of land, and she considers herself a resourceful, inquisitive environmental steward.
“I like spending time with my dog Ollie, have backyard chickens and enjoy birding, hiking, cooking, gardening, landscaping and spending time with my family,” Lemrise said.
Lemrise said that she has a number of goals and plans in her new role. The office will continue to track campus sustainability efforts to obtain Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating (STARS) program recognition through the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).
“With the guidance of the Sustainability Council, I will assess our previous achievements and devise a viable strategy for the future,” she said. “And we will seek out additional funding sources to support our efforts. The Hub will be the center of innovation as we offer a collaborative space for sustainability research, education and partnerships.”
She is also working to encourage the Sustainability Council to be more active, hire graduate assistants for the sustainability team, work closely with Facilities and Energy Management, and connect and establish partnerships across campus and with the community.
She notes that SIU’s longstanding commitment to sustainability includes numerous initiatives such as:
- About 235 diverse sustainability projects have been awarded approximately $2.454 million in Green Fund grants since establishment of the student-paid Green Fee as the result of a student-led initiative in 2009.About 235 diverse sustainability projects have been awarded approximately $2.454 million in Green Fund grants since establishment of the student-paid Green Fee as the result of a student-led initiative in 2009
- SIU has signed the Second Nature Climate Commitment, pledging to address climate change through research and action on campus.
- A partnership led by SIU is one of just 22 groups across the country chosen by the U.S. Department of Energy to receive technical assistance to plan and lead transitions to clean energy at the community level. The Communities Local Energy Action Program (LEAP) Pilot Program assistance went to Growing Jackson County Through Clean Energy Development, a diverse, 16-member coalition.
These efforts have resulted in numerous sustainability and green campus accolades, including:
- Multiple-time winner of STARS recognition, and multiyear inclusion in the Princeton Review Guide to Green Colleges and Sierra Magazine’s “Cool Schools” list.
- Tree Campus Higher Education each year since 2015 and Tree Campus Higher Education each year since 2015. being the first university in the state to earn Level II Arboretum Accreditation from the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program. Morton Register of Arboreta
- Earning recognition multiple times as a Bicycle Friendly University from the League of American Bicyclists.