The University is currently pursuing its 2013–2016 Strategic Plan, but planning in the Office of Sustainability for future initiatives is already under way.
“We are starting the planning process for the next Yale Sustainability Strategic Plan,” Director of the Office of Sustainability Virginia Chapman said. “We are very excited for the possibilities for this new plan, as it will expand on past plans to include input and initiatives that will engage the full Yale community in the process — faculty, staff and students — in addition to the New Haven community.”
In keeping with the office’s willingness to engage the University and New Haven communities at large, the Office of Sustainability is considering recommendations from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, the University’s faculty-led Sustainability Advisory Council as well as students and other faculty. According to Chapman, recommendations from the Sustainability Advisory Council are currently under review by University President Peter Salovey.
Meanwhile, students and faculty in Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Sciences are working on sustainability initiatives of their own, said Amber Garrard, manager of education and outreach at the Office of Sustainability. The Sustainability Advisory Council intends to take into account the students’ assessment in future discussions of campus sustainability, she said.
This past fall, Brad Gentry, professor in the practice and co-director of the Center for Business & the Environment, coordinated a course-project designed to connect Yale’s sustainability initiatives more closely to teaching and research. Gentry said the course, called “Yale’s Sustainability Plan: Deepening the Connections and Impact,” gives students an opportunity to put theory into practice.
Gentry also pointed to the course’s practical necessity for campus life.
“What could be a better vehicle than sustainability projects to better Yale?” he said.
Gentry’s course involved students forming teams and working with groups of faculty, staff, alumni and outside experts. Together, they focused on energy production, fuels, transportation, land and water usage, materials and well-being. Each team corresponded with a category of sustainability initiatives that are currently being worked on as a part of Yale’s ongoing 2013–2016 Strategic Plan.
At the end of the semester, the teams presented their findings and recommendations to the Office of Sustainability in the plan for 2016–2019.
Lindsay Toland FES ’15 took Gentry’s course and was a member of the “materials team,” which was tasked with assessing both the material products Yale uses and the wastes produced. Toland said the materials team recommended that the University streamline communication within its procurement and disposal facilities to optimize their acquisition of materials.
“The University has done a great job of putting energy behind waste diversion, but there are opportunities for greater overall reductions,” Toland said. “Our team believed that closing the loop between procurement and disposal could achieve these reductions.”
Other recommendations from students in the course included transportation system reform as a way to address issues of social and climate justice. The “transportation team” released a report proposing that the University alter its current New Haven Homebuyer program in order to incentivize employee home ownership within walking and biking distance of campus.
According to Toland, the teams’ proposals were well-received, but the office’s immediate reactions were not known to students.
“The Office of Sustainability was very supportive of the materials team and of the class overall, though we’re not sure which recommendations are being pursued or implemented,” Toland said.