If you happen to be in the Williamsburg area tomorrow morning, try to stop by the Sadler Center’s Tidewater B room at 12 noon for a panel discussion on the environmental impact of bottled water and the bottled water industry. Speakers will include a representative from Coca-Cola and College faculty from Geology, Philosophy, Business and VIMS, moderated by yours truly!
We’re taking a big step forward in sustainable food procurement here at W&M this month. Partnering with Aramark and W&M Dining Services, the Committee on Sustainability’s Food Services working group has created a food purchasing survey that seeks to compile the College’s opinions on local, organic, seasonal, fair trade, and humanely treated food, and the priorities that College community members set on these characteristics. The survey will be used to create a Sustainable Procurement Guide for Dining Services at the College, and will help Aramark prioritize their food purchasing to meet the desires of the College community.
So whether you’re faculty, staff, or a student, please, take the survey and tell us what you think! It will close this Friday at 10:00PM. We’re hoping to have the Procurement Guide done by the end of the semester.
If you happen to have some free time tomorrow (Wednesday the 20th) at 1:30 PM, consider tuning into the Sustainable Endowments Institute’s Beyond Grades webinar series. They’ll be covering successes in the Administration category of SEI’s latest Green Report Card. William and Mary received an A in Administration this year, and the webinar will feature our very own Lynda Butler and Dennis Taylor, the co-chairs of the Committee on Sustainability. They’ll be discussing how we at W&M have been able to do so much in so little time. This is a great sign that our progress isn’t only visible here on campus, but around the nation!
Great news, folks! The Sustainable Endowments Institute (SEI) released their 2010 College Sustainability Report Card at 12:00AM today (Wednesday), and W&M received a B this year! This is a HUGE gain for us. Two years ago, SEI awarded us a D-minus, and that grade was the first of the many report cards we’ve seen since, all of which featured W&M gains. But this report card’s results in particular are worth restating: W&M has risen 2 and a half grades in two years. That’s fantastic progress, in my opinion.
First, our breakdown by category (followed by 2009 and 2008 scores):
Overall: B (C, D-)
Administration: A (C, F)
Climate Change & Energy: C (C, F)
Food & Recycling: B (B, C)
Green Building: B (B, C)
Student Involvement: A (B, –)
Transportation: B (C, F)
Endowment Transparency: D (F, F)
Investment Priorities: A (C, C)
Shareholder Engagement: – (F, F)
Our largest gains were in Administration, Student Involvement, and Investment Priorities, all of which received A’s. This highlights our improved strengths over the past year or so. The addition of my position and a more detailed outline of COS and the student Green Fees helped us significantly in Administration (SEI also points us out under Categories — Administration as “Leading by Example“). Better reporting of our student initiatives helped our grade in Student Involvement, as anyone who’s been involved with sustainability at W&M over the past years could tell you that that was one of our core strengths from the beginning! In regards to Investment Priorities, it’s obvious that the structure & transparency of the Green Endowment is very important, as it not only significantly improved our grade but put us in the top tier of the category (You’ll be seeing more interactive data on the Green Fund on the Sustainability @ W&M site in the near future).
All in all, fantastic news for sustainability at W&M. I want to thank all of the student, staff, faculty, administration, alum, and community volunteers that have contributed to sustainability at W&M over the past few years for all of your dedicated work. We couldn’t have done it without you, and we won’t continue to improve without your help. Keep up the good work!
From the past few days…
- The Mason School of Business’s Undergraduate program’s Do One Thing (DOT) Campaign on Facebook has reached over 500 fans and over 200 DOTs posted, according to Undergraduate program director Chris Adkins. Add yours today!
- COS launched the Eco-Ambassador program on Saturday with a marathon kickoff & training event, graciously hosted by Larry Smith in the Commons Cafeteria. 7 departments & offices across campus are hosting students working to create their own sustainability projects and implement them in each office. From Modern Languages to Landscape & Grounds, you’ll be seeing new ideas in daily sustainability practices popping up all over campus!
- COS also has announced its request for proposals for the Fall 2009 Green Fee projects! Anyone on campus can submit a proposal for improving any aspect of campus sustainability, funded by the student green fee. Look over the requirements and start working on a proposal of your own!
My apologies for the radio silence over the past few days — the requisite early-fall illness creeping across campus hit me early in the week. No flu, though, thankfully!
What’s been happening this week? Well, we had our first Steering Committee meeting for the Committee on Sustainability, and we welcomed our two new student representatives to Steering: Caroline Cress ’10 will be representing undergraduates and co-chairing the Programs and Education Subcommittee, and Dan Conant of the School of Education will be representing graduate students and co-chairing the Operations Subcommittee. Among the numerous topics of the Steering meeting were a reorganization (we’ve eliminated the Finance working group, split Physical Plant into Energy and Waste/Recycling, and added a Procurement group into STAC), the large outpouring of student volunteers for COS (over 40 applications!), and the numerous projects coming down the pipes (releasing a sustainability academic audit, launching the Eco Ambassador Program, etc.).
Last week also saw the first official days of work for the Sustainability Interns hired by Dining Services & Aramark! Christy Ottinger ’10, Sarah Will ’10, and Ian Fuller ’11 will be working in the numerous dining facilities across campus to improve recycling practices in both dining and preparation areas, create a composting program, support increased purchasing of local, seasonal, organic, fair trade, and cage-free foods, and promote awareness of food sustainability issues on campus. Students, keep an eye out for them in your dining halls! I’ll be working with them mostly in regards to the creation of a composting program for Dining Services. Hopefully, with the help of the College and Aramark, we can get a large-scale composting program going by the end of the year!
The College also saw the release of the state’s budget expectations for next year — with poor news for anyone involved. As the year continues, you’ll see some information from me and COS about how much money our recent sustainability efforts have saved the College; preliminary estimates have us breaking $100,000 in savings each year, with more surely to come!
Great news from two of the Committee on Sustainability’s summer research grant recipients: Tyler Koontz and Judi Sclafani’s work on restructuring our recycling & waste contracts will save the College at least $40,000 a year! Read more here at W&M News.
This is the biggest of a few excellent signs that our recycling program is moving in the right direction. Those of you on the Williamsburg campus will be seeing recycling bins in academic buildings and on Old Campus soon, as SEAC and Alpha Phi Omega get ready to start their semester of volunteer recycling. We’re also working on an alternative recyclables program, where students will have more access to recycling for batteries, light bulbs, electronics, and the like. I’ll make sure to keep you updated!