Built around a broad base of sus­tain­ability research and an over­ar­ching com­mit­ment to cre­ating a “greener” campus, North­eastern Uni­ver­sity this week marked the first Sus­tain­ability Week with pro­grams, lec­tures and a pres­ti­gious award for the Dockser Hall renovation.

The Uni­ver­sity has been making strong strides in this area: Last summer, North­eastern was one of 15 edu­ca­tional insti­tu­tions out of 697 to earn a place on the 2010 Green Rating Honor Roll com­piled by Princeton Review.

This week’s effort, designed to accel­erate the momentum and increase aware­ness of sus­tain­ability issues, got under way Monday with infor­ma­tion ses­sions around campus. Orga­nizers will be high­lighting the large and small efforts that people can make to create a greener lifestyle.

On Tuesday, trees on Forsyth Street were retro­fitted with per­me­able asphalt bases to help mit­i­gate storm-​​water runoff, a major envi­ron­mental issue in urban areas.

Eigh­teen Zelkova trees and recently planted red maples in Forsyth Circle had their bases cov­ered with mate­rial com­prised of recy­cled tires and stone, a per­me­able mate­rial that allows rain water to pen­e­trate and sink into the ground, rather than being wasted as runoff, explained Chuck Doughty, director of land­scape services.

Instead of winding up in the sewer system, the rain­water can soak through and recharge the ground­water,” he said.

In the research realm, North­eastern fac­ulty are engaged in a variety of spon­sored projects: mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary research aimed at devel­oping alter­na­tive fuels and improving energy storage and use; designing more effi­cient health-​​care sys­tems; devel­oping lower-​​cost methods for cleaning pol­luted bodies of water; and shep­herding marine resources.

The week also offered a timely back­drop for the recog­ni­tion of the Dockser Hall ren­o­va­tion as an award-​​winning “green” project.

The Lead­er­ship in Energy and Envi­ron­mental Design (LEED) of the U.S. Green Building Council recently announced the exten­sive ren­o­va­tion received a “gold star” honor for water and energy effi­ciency, air-​​quality stan­dards, and mate­rials use.

Frank Mahoney, director of spe­cial projects for facil­i­ties, explained that inno­va­tions like low-​​flow lava­to­ries and a new irri­ga­tion were incor­po­rated into the project, which ran from July 2008 to August 2009. He noted that 96 per­cent of the waste gen­er­ated by the project was sent to recy­cling plants.

The Uni­ver­sity has been com­mitted to sus­tain­able con­struc­tion on pre­vious projects,” Mahoney said. North­eastern has fur­thered this effort with a com­mit­ment to pursue LEED cer­ti­fi­ca­tion on all new cap­ital projects, he added. The University’s newest building, Inter­na­tional Vil­lage, is in the midst of the LEED cer­ti­fi­ca­tion process.

Northeastern’s com­mit­ment to becoming a greener insti­tu­tion was rec­og­nized in 2007 by the Sus­tain­able Endow­ments Insti­tute, which tracks envi­ron­men­tally friendly poli­cies and prac­tices on U.S. and Cana­dian cam­puses. The orga­ni­za­tion lauded North­eastern as one of five schools showing the most improve­ment in envi­ron­mental prac­tices and polices over a year.

Pres­i­dent Joseph Aoun signed the Amer­ican Col­lege & Uni­ver­sity Pres­i­dents Cli­mate Com­mit­ment, a nation­wide ini­tia­tive to neu­tralize green­house gas emis­sions among insti­tu­tions of higher learning.

Events this week include a “green busi­ness” net­working event at the Cabral Center on Wednesday, and a keynote by Howard Lyman, a so-​​called vegan cowboy who authored “Mad Cowboy: Plain Truth from the Cattle Rancher Who Won’t Eat Meat” and “No More Bull: The Mad Cowboy Tar­gets America’s Worst Enemy — Our Diet.” Lyman will speak from 7 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday at the Raytheon Amphitheater.

For a com­plete list of events, please visit www​.north​eastern​.edu/​s​u​s​t​a​i​n​a​b​i​l​i​t​y​/​e​v​e​n​t​s​/​i​n​d​e​x​.​h​tml.