Annual Sustainability Progress Report for 2013-14 Prepared by the Sustainability Office
It’s been an invigorating year in the Sustainability Office, filled with the energy of students busily working on wide ranging sustainability projects. At the beginning of this year, we set a goal for the office to move from being opportunistic, to being strategically opportunistic. In the first years of the sustainability initiatives at Earlham, it felt as though we jumped at any opportunity, partnership, project, or connection that was related to sustainability in an effort to be visible and seen as an office creating change on campus. As the ways we conceptualize sustainability work in higher education have deepened and sharpened, it has made more and more sense to become strategic about the initiatives and work we engage in. An example of this shift has been the commitment of the office to creating the Richmond Sustainable Communities Initiative, which you’ll read more about in the following pages. We’re looking forward next year to increasing our capacity to serve students, the college, and the community with the launch of the Integrated Program in Sustainability. Thanks for joining us on this exhilarating and ever necessary journey to creating a sustainable Earlham College. -Sarah Waddle Sustainability Coordinator
This report is organized into sections based on the Comprehensive Sustainability Plan written for the college by the Sustainability Advisory Committee in 2011-2012 and updated in 2013. The Comprehensive Sustainability Plan contains 67 recommendations, to be taken as directives for action addressing sustainability through four sections: Coordination, Curriculum, Community, and Operations. Major activities of the Sustainability Office related to the Plan’s recommendations and four sections are explained on the following pages. We’ve highlighted the biggest accomplishment in each section first for easy perusal.
Coordination New Office and Staffing Model This year, the sustainability-focused activities of the Center for Environmental Action evolved to be the Sustainability Office, which is one of the integrated offices in Earlham’s new Center for Integrated Learning. The Sustainability Office employs a full time Sustainability Coordinator, a half time Sustainability Program Associate, and 16 student interns in the Student Sustainability Corps. As part of the change, the office is now located on the first floor of the Landrum Bolling Center.
Student Sustainability Corps 2013-14
Sustainability Liaisons Part of the work of the Sustainability Office is to infuse a sustainability focus campus wide. To further the spread of ownership of sustainability, the Sustainability Office has set up Sustainability Liaisons with the Admissions Office and the Athletics Department. These liaisons act as the point people for communication, ideas, and projects related to sustainability in their respective departments.
STARS and Recognitions In 2013, Earlham College earned a Bronze Rating in the Sustainability Tracking and Rating System, a comprehensive sustainability progress indicator system developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. Our STARS report is available online: stars.aashe.org/institutions/earlham-college-in/report/2013-05-24. Earlham was also featured in the Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Schools in 2013: princetonreview.com/green-guide. Sustainability Advisory Committee The committee organized itself into four committees this year to monitor progress on the four sections of the Sustainability Plan. The Committee focused on guiding the re-visioning process for Miller Farm and on pursuing the Wind Resource Assessment and initiating an Energy Services Contract.
Curriculum Richmond Sustainable Communities Initiative Launches The Richmond Sustainable Communities Initiative matches courses from across the curriculum at Earlham with sustainability research projects for the City of Richmond. This year, the program’s pilot year, matched three courses with city projects. A Social Media and Marketing course in the Business and Non-Profit Management program completed Strategic Social Media and Marketing plans for the City of Richmond Informational Technology Department. The Environmental Studies Senior Capstone course conducted research to assist the City of Richmond Parks and Recreation Department in using best practices and market based changes to the Richmond Farmer’s Market. Students in the Equilibrium and Analysis Chemistry course conducted sampling and nutrient testing on sites along the Whitewater River to assist the Sanitation Department in determining phosphorous levels in the river from point and non-point sources.
Environmental Studies Senior Capstone Course
Integrated Program in Sustainability Initiated The completion of the college’s Strategic Plan led to the creation of three Integrated Programs, one being the Integrated Program in Sustainability to launch in fall 2014. The Integrated Program in Sustainability will engage students in a collection of opportunities for internships, research, alumni networking, and career development in sustainability fields. The program will be organized by a Program Director, Jamey Pavey, who comes to the college from Lynchburg College in Virginia, where she was on the Environmental Studies faculty. SEED Grants Awarded Four Sustainability and Environmental Education Development Grants were awarded to faculty this year with generous funding from the Mellon Foundation. Ø Thor Hogan in Politics received a professional development grant to travel to Morocco and incorporate new perspectives into his Environmental Policy courses.
Ø Heather Lerner and Sarah Lee in Biology received funds to include sustainability-focused service learning opportunities in their May Term course to Hawaii. Ø Welling Hall received funds to bring consultants to campus to provide insight into developing the environmental sustainability entries in the Oxford Encyclopedia of Peace. Ø Deb Jackson used grant funds to provide experiential learning opportunities for students in her Ford/Knight Research Project titled Environmental Justice and Public Health: Thinking Globally Acting Locally.
Community Student Sustainability Corps For the first time ever, in the summer of 2013 the Sustainability Office expanded the popular Student Sustainability Corps internship model to include a Summer Internship session. The students completed a myriad of projects including preparing for sustainability in New Student Orientation, creating a map of Back Campus, building a bicycle that blends a smoothie as you pedal, working with the community to redesign the Richmond Bicycle Map, proposing the Earlham Free Store and much more. The program will be offered again in the summer of 2014. This year’s academic year Student Sustainability Corps included 16 student internships for students to work on everything from running the compost program to organizing the Energy Wars competition and many projects in between.
Mishel Mussali, Summer Student Sustainability Corps Intern at a Public Input session on the Richmond Bike Map
Student Action Research Grants With funding from the Mellon Foundation, the Sustainability Office funded 14 student projects this year, totaling more than $10000. Grants included providing funding for a community tool library at the Bike Coop, bringing artists from the Beehive Collective to campus, and student organized trips to conferences like PowerShift, the Mountain Justice Fall Summit, and the Fossil Fuel Divestment Convergence. SAR Grant funding also provided materials for an energy efficiency project in Wildman Science Library and the student organized Energy Wars. Free Store Summer Student Sustainability Corps interns proposed the creation of a campus Free Store in 2013. This fall the project came into fruition with a Free Store manager, a team of volunteer staff, and a room in the Runyan Center. The space facilitates the free sharing and reuse of goods and hosts events and workshops related to reducing waste. Miller Farm Planning Process The Sustainability Advisory Committee undertook an expansive review of the Miller Farm program in Fall 2013 at the request of President David Dawson. The resulting recommendations were reviewed by the college’s administration and a plan to create a revitalized sustainable agriculture and farming program was approved in Spring 2014. Design and implementation of the new Miller Farm for Sustainability Studies will begin in Fall 2014.
Alumni Sustainability Network Created Earlhamâ€™s alumni have amazing careers in a variety of sustainability fields spanning policy, advocacy, education, science, and more. The Sustainability Office initiated an Alumni Sustainability Network on LinkedIn this year that now connects over 40 alums with each other and with the college. Sustainability Blog, Website, and Social Media This year marked the launch of a new blog run by the Sustainability Office accessible at epress.earlham.edu/sustainability, as well as the continuation of our seasonal newsletter â€˜Taking Rootâ€™. These publicity efforts are reaching far and wide: Sustainability at Earlham Twitter has nearly 200 followers, Earlham College Sustainability on Facebook has over 300 likes on Facebook, and these numbers grow daily. Green Office Program Expands The Green Office Program is run by the Student Sustainability Corps and engages offices on campus in audits of their sustainability practices. Successful offices reach sustainability goals and are rewarded with a certificate celebrating their achievements. The program expanded this year to include 15 offices with offices in every academic building on campus participating.
Student Sustainability Corps member assists the Alumni Development Office with their Green Office Audit
Eco-Reps Program Launched This year marked the launch of a sustainability peer educator program to train dorm representatives in residence halls to educate their peers on sustainability in their living environments. The Eco-Reps program pilot included students in three dorms who engaged in trainings and then designed creative sustainability programming for their peers. The program will expand next year to include all residence halls on campus.
Eco-Reps at the program launch
Energy Wars Competition Student Sustainability Corps members organized the third annual Energy Wars Competition to reduce electricity usage in residence halls and college houses. The competition included a website designed and built by computer science students as well as fun events and energy saving study breaks organized by dorm captains in each of the residence halls. Over 100 students pledged to reduce energy usage during the competition and the winning dorm achieved nearly a 10% reduction in energy usage during the competition period.
Athletics Partnership Formed Earlham Athletics has a new focus on sustainability, aided by the creation of an Athletics Sustainability Specialist position in the Student Sustainability Corps. This partnership has spurred the installation of a water bottle filling station in the Wellness Center, participation in the Green Office Program, coordination of recycling services for athletic events and interest in reducing waste across the athletics program. A first step taken by the Athletics department has been to switch from disposable to reusable cups for athletes during games.
Operations Energy Services Performance Contract One of the strategic priorities of the Sustainability Plan is to engage in an energy services performance contract, a funding mechanism to install energy efficiency upgrades and energy systems improvements to the campus and pay for the projects using the savings they generate. Earlham selected Performance Services, an Indianapolis based energy services firm, to complete a proposal for the Energy Services Contract, which will be presented to the Board of Trustees at their May 2014 meeting. Pending approval, the projects will begin in summer 2014 and will result in substantial campus-wide energy cost savings. Wind Resource Assessment Another strategic priority of the Sustainability Plan is to invest in renewable energy to power the campus. The Sustainability Office has worked with Performance Services to complete a study of the feasibility of installing a high capacity wind turbine on college-owned land. Based on the study, installing a 1.5-2 megawatt turbine would provide around 40% of the campus annual electricity needs and would save the college over four million dollars in utility costs over its lifespan. There are several permitting and rate structure details to be determined, and pending their resolution, the proposal for the project will be presented to the Board of Trustees for their approval with potential installation sometime in 2015. Compost Program The Student Sustainability Corps Compost Specialists put in many hours this year improving the campus compost system. Students collect food waste from the dining hall and from campus houses and bring it to a three-bin pile system at Miller Farm. There, students monitor pile temperatures and turn the piles periodically. This year, over 16,000 lbs of food waste have been composted. Compost Specialists turning piles LEED Buildings Four in-progress renovation and building projects on campus are on their way to becoming Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certified. The Phase 1 renovation of Stanley Hall and the Visual and Performing Arts building project are both expected to receive LEED Gold certification. Highlights of the sustainable features of the buildings can be found at earlham.edu/sustainability/across-the-campus/green-buildings/
Real Food Calculator Sustainable Food Systems Specialists in the Student Sustainability Corps have spent the year inventorying the food purchases of Dining Services using a tool called the Real Food Calculator. After inputting data on each product, students researched the products to determine how sustainable they are based on a set of key indicators. After the project is finished this summer, the tool will provide information to the college on the percentage of sustainable food purchases and can be used to inform future food purchasing decisions. Tree Campus USA Earlham achieved official Tree Campus USA status this year through the Arbor Day foundation. The achievement represents our adherence to five standards of tree care on campus, including having a Tree Care Plan and hosting tree-related service projects on campus. Car Sharing Program In partnership with Enterprise CarShare, this year the College launched a car sharing program for students and community members. Two cars are available on campus for affordable, short-term rentals.