The Sustainability Committee will release a draft of the College-wide sustainability plan on Wednesday, Oct. 14 after Fall Break.
The plan addresses the issues, goals and recommends two, five and 10-year strategies to promote sustainability in the following aspects of campus life: the academic curriculum, buildings, campus landscape and watershed, water supply, energy and climate change, dining, purchasing and waste management and transportation.
The committee has also assessed how sustainable the College already is in these areas in the draft.
“The College has a commitment to engaging sustainability in all institutional decisions. So that means thinking about the things we buy, to how we heat our buildings, to how we structure our curriculum,” said Jay Turner, chair of the sustainability committee and associate professor of environmental studies.
Wellesley currently lacks guidelines for making sustainable purchasing and long term goals for reducing and capping greenhouse gas emissions.
To help readers understand the goals of the detailed sustainability plan, the committee will publish summaries of the goals and concerns of the plan on the Office of Sustainability website in addition to the draft on the Wednesday after Fall Break.
The advisory committee will host several feedback sessions the week after it releases the draft. The first meeting is on Monday, Oct. 19 at 9:30- a.m. in Pendle Atrium followed by a second meeting on Oct. 20 at 12:30 p.m. in Wang Campus Center 413, and a third meeting on Oct. 21 at 6 p.m.- in El Table. The final meeting occurs on Thursday, Oct. 22 at 12:30 p.m. in the Leaky Beaker of the Science Center.
Committee members hope to gather ideas and concerns that people from all communities on campus have. They will then revise the draft for submission to the the senior staff and Board of Trustees at the beginning of next semester for approval.
More specifically, the board will review a set of sustainability goals and principles that the plan will implement, according to Turner.
The 16-person committee began brainstorming the plan last winter with a community ideafest and drafted a plan after consulting related groups on campus. The advent of Campus Renewal also contributed to the creation of the sustainability plan because the committee created environmental guidelines for the building renovations.
The committee members aim to finalize the plan by the end of this academic year.
According to Turner, the College needs to be more sustainable in areas of waste management, energy management, and purchasing commodities.
“We buy a lot of stuff. Whether it’s vehicles and paper. There are definitely opportunities where we can prioritize purchasing recycled paper or high efficiency vehicles,” Turner said.
“A lot of these things in the long term will save the college money.”
Along with issues and objectives, the draft of the sustainability plan looks at areas in that Wellesley is already performing sustainably. These areas include water supply and landscaping.
“One thing that is highlight for me is how much good work we’re already doing but because we don’t have an umbrella for this, there are a lot of things that nobody knows about,” Turner said
Many other colleges have already instituted sustainability plans, which Wellesley’s Sustainability Committee have referred to throughout its own planning process. Smith College published its “Sustainability and Climate Change Management Plan” in 2010 while Babson’s plan was released in 2011.
Harvard University, Pomona College and Colby College, along with Wellesley, are among the colleges who have yet to publish a plan, according to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.
Jihelah Greenwald, one of two student representatives on the Sustainability Committee, believes that students have the opportunity to be major stakeholders in the sustainability plan for the future of the College, especially since many of the categories directly affect student life.
“The primary goals in each sector are succinct and within time frames. Students will only be impacted by three-year old but have the ability to influence 10-year goals. After engaging in the document, they can decide what goals they want insure will affect future Wellesley students,” she said.
Greenwald and her co-student representative hope to publicize the plan to the student body and ensure a dynamic revision process after receiving student input.
“The plan will continue to move forward in the future as technology improves or if there’s more literature on how to be more sustainable across college campuses,” Greenwald said.