Faculty attend ‘green’ summit

Whether it is going trayless, turning off lights or recycling, students are constantly reminded to make Yale campus more sustainable. But students are not the only ones helping to ‘green’ Yale.

More than 50 Yale faculty participated in a two-day conference held this past weekend with representatives from the Rocky Mountain Institute, a nonprofit research and consulting organization focused on resource issues. After a lengthy and rigorous application process, the RMI selected Yale, along with 11 other colleges and universities, earlier this school year to participate in their “Accelerate Campus Climate-Change Initiatives” project, Julie Newman, Director of the Office of Sustainability, said.

During the conference, participating faculty gave presentations and participated in discussions with the RMI team on Yale’s progress towards becoming a more sustainable campus. Yale is currently on target to meeting its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent below the 2005 levels by 2020, Tom Downing, Yale’s energy manager, said at the conference.

“RMI was certainly impressed with how far we’ve come in addressing campus climate change,” Keri Enright-Kato, sustainability project manager at the Office of Sustainability, said. “We are definitely leading the path when it comes to our peer institutions, but that’s not to say that we don’t still have a long way to go.”

The faculty presentations will enable RMI to compile research based on Yale’s best sustainable practices, as well as their barriers to reducing greenhouse emissions. The research will culminate in a workshop, which will be held at the RMI headquarters in Old Snowmass, Colorado scheduled for late spring, and attended by two to three representatives from each of the 12 participating institutions.

Yale’s participation the program makes them eligible to potentially garner funding — between $25,000 and $50,000 — for a substantial project combining the ideas generated from the campus visit and workshop, Sally Deleon, research fellow at RMI, said in a letter to the Office of Sustainability.

“We should have designed some kind of project come April or May,” Enright-Kato said.

Enright-Kato, who coordinated and facilitated the meetings between Yale faculty and the RMI team last week, said she was pleased with faculty participation in the event.

“Staff and other people across campus were willing to talk about the work that they’re doing,” she said. “They are proud to have been a part of Yale’s progressive movement to address campus climate change.”

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