Summer Sustainability at W&M

It’s been quite a while, hasn’t it? Some technical difficulties and the rigors of finishing up the first year of the Sustainability Fellowship can keep a man from his blog for some time. That said, I’d like to get back in the swing of things with a quick update as to what’s going on here on campus during the summer months.

Our annual summer research grants were awarded for the second time in April, and the students should be starting their work in the coming week or two. We usually only fund four students for summer research through the Green Fees, but this year’s applicant pool was so strong that we decided to fund an extra research project. I’m very excited to see what the students can create during their weeks here this summer.

The students (and their research topics) are:

  • Amanda Anderson ’11: green roof design
  • Max Cunningham ’13: a comprehensive transportation plan for W&M
  • Jane Gray Morris ’13: public space construction in the W&M sustainable gardens
  • Jamison Shabanowitz ’12: an e-recycling program
  • Alexandra Volpert ’11: reducing nutrient loading in Lake Matoaka

We’ll also be welcoming our new Sustainability Fellow in July. Before I take my leave, however, I hope to help the interns get started on their great research, finalize my sustainable procurement guidelines, and put together a final report on W&M’s great progress over the past year. I’ll be back soon with more posts on what’s new in sustainability at W&M.

Until then!

June 2nd, 2010

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

Weekend Update

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!

September 21st, 2009

The week in summary

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!

September 12th, 2009

COS Recycling interns save thousands of dollars!

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!

September 4th, 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/.

Archives

Tags

RSS WM_GreenisGold