President Reveley’s State of the University

Earlier today, W&M President Taylor Reveley sent out his “State of the University” address to the College community. He makes a strong case for why, even in the current economic climate, W&M is still deserving of its high national standing, and in fact is poised to reach new peaks in the years to come.

Of course, I was reading with a more specific thought in mind: what does he think of our recent strides in sustainability? I wasn’t disappointed: President Reveley generously praised the sustainability efforts here at W&M in his “final thoughts.” He states that “The College’s “Green Grade” in the Princeton evaluation improved from 84 to 90,” and highlights a few notable initiatives that have taken place over the past year or two:

Last fall, we marshaled a Committee on Sustainability, to administer the “Green Fee” (the $30 annual levy that the students voted to impose on themselves – or their parents). The Green Fee raises more than $200,000 each year. Today, the committee includes more than 120 staff, faculty, students and administrators in three subcommittees and 10 working groups. Examples of their efforts to date include an audit of sustainability in the College’s curriculum, improved environmental procurement standards, the funding of HVAC upgrades in Washington and Tyler Halls, and undergraduate research in solar cell production. Last summer, two sustainability interns researched the College’s recycling program and identified over $40,000 in savings. And a recent report showed that W&M has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions size by almost 16 percent.

I want to thank President Reveley for his continued support of me, the Committee on Sustainability, and all of the great work happening here at W&M, sustainability-related and otherwise. We’re in very capable and supportive hands.

October 14th, 2009

Student Volunteers: Recycling

In light of the College receiving an A for student involvement in the latest College Sustainability Report Card, over the next few days I would like to highlight a few of the student volunteer efforts that make W&M so successful and unique among universities making strides in sustainability. There are quite a few student organizations and individuals who have put their hard work into making W&M a more environmentally friendly campus, and we owe them enormously for their efforts!

One of the most visible environmental issues on this or any campus is recycling. Accepted as one of the basic institutional commitments to sustainability, most every campus in the nation has some sort of recycling program. Here at W&M, our system is a bit unique in that it relies on the effort of student and staff volunteers. Cash-strapped as we are, it is up to individuals in offices or buildings across campus to collect their own recycling and take it to one of the large blue 8-cubic-yard Tidewater Fiber dumpsters located around campus.

As such, a few student organizations have grouped together in order to provide a more streamlined and efficient recycling program for many areas of campus. The Student Environmental Action Coalition, the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, and the Student Assembly have partnered on a volunteer recycling program that services much of old campus, both in academic buildings and outdoors. Those of you walking around campus should have noticed the new blue receptacles on the Sunken Garden and around the Sadler Center terrace. Provided by the Student Assembly & Facilities Management, and emptied by Alpha Phi Omega, these bins allow members of the College community to recycle on the go.

Emptying recycling bins is a never-ending (and sometimes thankless) process, and the students in APO, SEAC, and the SA who do it are often invisible to those walking by the bins each day. Their efforts, however, do not go unnoticed, and we thank them all for their great work!

October 14th, 2009

W&M earns a B on the 2010 College Sustainability Report Card!

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!

October 7th, 2009


About:

Welcome to Hark Upon the Green! This blog is a shared space for members of the sustainability community at William & Mary to write about sustainability topics on and beyond. If you would like to contribute to the blog, contact Madeleine Boel, Committee on Sustainability Web Assistant, at mgboel@email.wm.edu.
Make sure to visit Sustainability at W&M for all of W&M's progress on sustainability efforts. Catch up with William & Mary Sustainability on Twitter at WM_GreenisGold
To learn what William & Mary's Environmental Law Society is up to, visit their blog at http://envirols.blogs.wm.edu/.

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