Submitted on September 14, 2009; last updated on November 23, 2009
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Because no GHG inventory exists prior to 2008 (and data on many areas goes back only 2-3 years) we are still in the early stages of determining where our liabilities and opportunities for improvement lie. Consequently our mitigation strategy at this point is to create a process for identifying those areas, rather than produce a list of specific targets or actions we will pursue in the short term. During 2009-2010 the College Sustainability Council will request each operating area produce a list of liabilities and opportunities along with a variety of options for action that note costs, barriers, and potential results in GHG reduction and other sustainability improvements. The recommendations from each area will be delivered to the Council in spring 2010, which will then prioritize a list for implementation and begin work on identifying funding to support that work.
It is the best judgment of the Council that potential reductions in GHG emissions will break down along the lines displayed in the accompanying chart. The process outlined in this plan will help identify the areas of opportunity for the ~50% of emissions we believe may actually be eliminated and establish a process by which funding for any remaining unavoidable offsets can be identified and planned into budgets for the out years of 2030 and beyond. It was the Councils intention in setting a preliminary goal of 10% reduction by 2015 to encourage immediate action in areas where obvious opportunities for savings exist, such as conservation and demand management. Over time the estimates attached to each segment of the chart below will be refined, costs attached, and projects initiated; at the same time the Council will have to develop a policy for identifying and funding appropriate offsets for those emissions deemed unavoidable in the out years of the plan.
Currently students are most directly engaged in learning about sustainability though the environmental studies major and minor. For 2010-2011 a faculty-led effort to more fully incorporate sustainability into the curriculum is being developed to attract faculty outside the environmental studies department. As part of this initiative we hope to create an academic focus on sustainability throughout the year, starting with the annual Fall Faculty Workshop, incorporating several endowed lectureships, and culminating in a faculty development project based on the well-known Piedmont/Ponderosa model which Derek Larson, chair of the Environmental Studies Department, will facilitate in May 2011. It is the conclusion of the faculty members of the College Sustainability Council that their colleagues would not support a campus-wide academic requirement in sustainability at this time, so the strategy of building sustainability concepts into as many courses as possible will be applied instead.
Since The College of St. Benedict is a liberal arts college the general research requirement of the ACUPCC does not directly apply. Nonetheless we have taken significant steps to increase faculty and student research in sustainability areas and climate issues in particular. A new tenure-track faculty member specializing in climate research was hired in 2009 and began offering courses on climate science open to all students in the fall; he will build a research program on climate around the resources available in our bioregion that will inform his classes and provide opportunities for participation by students and collaboration with colleagues in other fields. Our longstanding emphasis on undergraduate research also provides opportunities for students to participate in sustainability research ranging from the senior thesis project required in the environmental studies major to faculty-led projects supported by several research endowments that enable students to conduct formal research full time during the summer months.
In addition to courses and other traditional academic opportunities offered through Academic Affairs, we are in the early stages of developing sustainability education and outreach programs in other areasmost notably Student Development, which is responsible primarily for our residential life programs. Educational outreach to reach all students will take place in many forms: campus-wide events, residence-based initiatives, community outreach, and focused campaigns. Annual events on campus, coordinated by the sustainability fellow in collaboration from student environmental groups, will include Recyclemania, the Campus Energy Competition, and an entire week of events devoted to the environment (Earth Week). The goal of these events is to reach all students and shape lifestyle choices enduring long after graduation. Campaigns will focus on the impact of personal decisions, such as encouraging students to recycle, shop at the local farmers market, and question their role in consumer culture. These campaigns will be combined with educational opportunities like touring the St. Bens recycling center and learning more about the waste management. We will take full advantage of the educational potential of both the process and product of several new construction projects, all of which will meet a minimum LEED-silver standard. Campus orientation for new students and employees will also incorporate sustainability information intended to raise awareness of our communitys values and highlight opportunities to make positive impacts when one first arrives on campus.
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