Sustainability strategic plan on track

Photo by Liliana Varman.

Yale is on track to meet the goals outlined in its 2010-’13 Sustainability Strategic Plan, according to a progress report released Monday by the Office of Sustainability.

The report tracks the progress that the University made through the end of the 2011 fiscal year, the first year following the plan’s introduction in September 2010, said Julie Newman, director of the Office of Sustainability. The strategic plan sets out to accomplish “aggressive yet achievable” goals by the end of the 2013 fiscal year in categories including waste reduction, water distribution and recycling, she said. While the University has made progress toward achieving most of its goals, those related to reducing use of single-occupancy vehicles and paper consumption will require increased focus for the remainder of the plan’s duration, according to the report.

“For a large percentage of the goals, we’re really on track,” said Sustainability Project Manager Keri Enright-Kato, who compiled the relevant data and wrote the progress report.

Newman said Yale has made significant strides in reducing waste and energy use since 2010, which she attributed to ongoing partnerships and negotiations across various University departments to coordinate use of facilities, dining and transportation. According to the report, Yale has successfully increased its recycling rate by 25 percent, up from 21.2 percent at the end of the 2009 fiscal year.

Yale Waste and Recycling Manager Bob Ferretti said waste stream analyses and market research conducted since the release of the strategic plan determined that many materials discarded as trash could be recycled or composted into new products. Based on those results, he said, his department evaluated and adjusted Yale’s processes for collecting materials in order to minimize the University’s waste. Since 2010 pre- and post-consumer food waste from residential college dining halls has been diverted for composting, and “clean wood” — wood free of paints, laminates and varnishes — is now separated and collected for recycling, he said.

Over the next year, the University will focus on reducing the number of single-occupancy vehicles and the amount of paper consumed, said Enright-Kato. The Strategic Plan’s goal to reduce single-occupancy vehicles used for travel to and from campus by 1 to 3 percent by 2013 has not seen any significant progress so far, she added.

The primary targets of efforts to reduce single-occupancy vehicles are faculty and staff, said Holly Parker, Yale’s director of sustainable transportation systems. Still, the University has made improvements in increasing ridership on public transportation and participation in carpools and car-sharing organized by Yale, she added.

Although the progress report states that campus-wide paper consumption increased in the 2011 fiscal year, Enright-Kato said paper use increased by less than 1.5 percent. Based on preliminary data from the first two quarters of the current 2012 fiscal year, she said she is “confident” that paper consumption will have decreased by the end of June.

A paper committee consisting of members from departments across Yale — such as Information Technology Services, Procurement and Human Resources — is in the process of analyzing methods the University can use to minimize paper consumption, she added. The 19-person committee, Enright-Kato said, includes representatives from various departments to ensure that the initiatives are compatible with diverse areas of campus.

In the remaining year and a half of the plan’s implementation, Goodall said, the University will continue to pursue the remaining goals outlined in the plan, but will also begin thinking of ways to improve Yale’s sustainability on a more long-term scale.

“[The Strategic Plan] is a forward-thinking foundational plan which lays the groundwork for the next three to seven years and beyond,” Goodall said.

The 2011 fiscal year ended on June 30.


  • Yalie14

    Here’s a crazy idea: the YDN should cut its wasted paper production! It’s disgusting how many unread copies are left over at the end of the day.

  • Sara

    No matter how well you might do on your class participation or papers, you shouldn’t get a B in that class if you completely fail to meet the basic standards of the main assignment, such as a final exam.

    Similarly, how can Yale possibly give itself a satisfactory grade here? The campus is still an absolutely atrocious place in terms of getting to the train station, biking, or walking. Aside from a few Zipcars and better shuttles, very few meaningful steps have been taken to improve the campus transportation situation or rebuild streets near campus like has been done in Cambridge, MA or in parts of the East Rock neighborhood.

    Yale should get an F on sustainability, and will continue to damage surrounding neighborhoods, until it can improve its transportation system and stop placing so much burden on the city in terms of single occupancy vehicle use. They are even planning to build another 1,000 space car garage next to the existing 3,000 space car garage at the Medical Campus. That kind of policy literally kills people through pollution, and would never be allowed in other cities. Yale needs to stop greenwashing itself, and address the real problems of sustainability on its campus.