So can others.
The Partnership for a Green City, a collaboration among Louisville city government, Jefferson County Public Schools and UofL, recognized Owsley with the first Joan Riehm Environmental Leadership Award April 22 at a ceremony in downtown Louisville. Riehm, a former Louisville deputy mayor and a lifelong advocate of environmental and public partnership initiatives, died of cancer in 2008.
Owsley oversees the university’s business, construction and renovation, physical plant, police, parking, transportation, food services and vending operations. The size and scope of his work in sustainability has been “immense,” nominators said.
He “walks the walk,” they said, when it comes to environmental sustainability, one of UofL’s goals in its 2020 Plan.
“The University of Louisville is proud of its innovative approaches to improving sustainability on our campuses,” said UofL President James Ramsey. Larry Owsley has been a tremendous force in driving and overseeing these ‘green’ initiatives.”
Owsley came to UofL in 1983. Since then, he has overseen revitalization of hundreds of acres of brownfields into environmentally safe properties. Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, Jim Patterson Baseball Stadium and a new student housing complex on the former American Standard property now occupy those sites.
Nominators also credited Owsley with:
- Negotiating a contract with TARC that allows UofL students and employees to ride the bus free with a valid university ID, a step that has encouraged thousands of people to use alternative transportation
Anchoring efforts at UofL to adopt more sustainable practices in a wide range of university operations from purchasing to food services to single-stream recycling
Playing a key part in UofL’s receiving a Gold LEED rating for its new Clinical and Translational Research Building in February
Taking a lead role in securing a $21.7 million, 13 ½-year performance contract to make Belknap Campus more energy efficient. The project is expected to reduce UofL’s annual greenhouse gas emissions by 55.5 million pounds, an amount equal to removing 4,000 cars from the road for a year.
“I am certainly pleased with the personal recognition,” Owsley said of receiving the award, “but I am much more pleased that the university’s stewardship commitment and accomplishments are being recognized. It truly has been — and will continue to be — a team effort.”
Owsley also noted that of all the sustainability efforts he has been involved with, the one he is most proud of is “how well our Sustainable Operations Committee has improved in its effectiveness over the past three years. Individuals from across the university — students, faculty and staff — are engaged and are making progress on a monthly basis.”
The Sustainable Operations Committee is one of three committees under UofL’s Sustainability Council charged with improving sustainability on campus. Other committees address incorporating the topic into curriculum and research and the university’s business practices.
The Riehm Award will be presented yearly on Earth Day and includes a $500 cash award. It recognizes a person or group that leads environmental sustainability efforts in the community.