“Green Speakeasy” Lectures Begin on Sustainability

Issue Date: 
March 16, 2015

The University of Pittsburgh’s Office of the Provost is launching a lecture series called “Green Speakeasy” as part of Pitt’s Year of Sustainability agenda. The lectures are free and geared toward Pitt faculty and graduate students. 

March 16, 4:30-6 p.m., University Club Library

The series’ first lecture will feature Bernard Goldstein, professor emeritus of environmental and occupational health and former dean of Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health. His talk, “Marcellus Shale, Sustainability Science, and the PA Supreme Court,” will focus on a National Academies of Science report that provided a framework for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to incorporate sustainability into the agency’s principles and decision-making, including decisions made on Marcellus Shale drilling. Goldstein said that new scientific tools need to be developed to facilitate decision-making regarding economic, environmental, and social/health factors of sustainability in Marcellus Shale drilling. The process needs to be transparent and involve public input, he added.

April 14, 4:30-6 p.m., University Club Library

Eric J. Beckman will deliver the second lecture, “Why Is It So Hard to Find Truly Green Products, Yet So Easy to Find Green-Washed Products?” Beckman is the Bevier Professor of Engineering at Pitt and codirector of the University’s Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation. Green-washed products are those that make false claims about their environmental footprint. Such claims aren’t necessarily made with an intent to defraud consumers, Beckman said. Instead, a murky method of grading such products can sometimes be at fault. Beckman noted that green-washed-product report cards are often generalized and confusing. The information, he said, should be calculated by assessing everything that is used to make the products as well as the waste they generate.

The lecture series program will include light snacks and a complimentary beverage, said Gena Kovalcik, codirector of the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation in the Swanson School of Engineering. 

“It’s an opportunity for faculty to learn more about research across the University with the goal to encourage future cross-disciplinary research and educational programs,” Kovalcik said, adding that organizers hope to expand the speaker series in the fall.

People interested in attending are asked to RSVP to engineering.pitt.edu/greenspeakeasy