One year after University President Peter Salovey announced the launch of a nine-year sustainability plan, the Office of Sustainability released a progress report on Oct. 9 detailing the headway Yale has made in its first year implementing the Sustainability Plan 2025.
The Yale Sustainability Plan 2025 focuses on climate action, technology, and health and well-being, among other objectives. The Project Report evaluates the progress made on these goals.
“We have eight years to reach our vision of a campus where sustainability is seamlessly integrated into life at Yale and are positioned to be successful based on the progress to date,” said Virginia Chapman, director of the Office of Sustainability.
According to the report, Yale has already achieved one of its goals — to establish a set of interdisciplinary working groups focused on teaching, research and service. Others, like the overarching plan to increase city-University collaboration on sustainability efforts, have seen significant progress, most notably with a recent conference entitled “Forging University-Municipality Partnerships Toward Urban Sustainability.” The conference, which took place on Oct. 13, was co-hosted by Yale and the city of New Haven at the Hixon Center for Urban Ecology.
In an email to the News, Chapman said the Sustainability Plan 2025 was developed over an 18-month period and incorporated the internal and external reviews of past sustainability plans as well as interviews with University officials.
“The goals reflect the priorities expressed by the Yale community to our team,” she said.
One long-term aspiration of the plan is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Dean of the Yale School of Nursing and Co-chair of the Yale Sustainability Committee Ann Kurth said Yale is taking a leadership role in reaching carbon neutrality.
“Yale is the first university to really engage in a carbon-pricing model,” she said, adding that current initiatives include launching an energy survey in University buildings to ensure that water and electricity use are minimized.
Chapman said the University is also looking to make existing building more efficient by increasing renewable energy capacity and incorporating design standards in pursuit of efficient campus growth.
“The most sustainable building is the one that is not built,” she said.
Both Chapman and Kurth noted an initiative to make New Haven transportation more environmentally friendly. Kurth explained that the effort is multidirectional: It involves establishing safe biking lanes, effective shuttles, rail and busing systems and additional charging stations for electric vehicles.
Recognizing the scope of this project, Yale has enlisted the help of engineering consultant firm VHB to create a Sustainable Transportation Framework Study that considers local and regional transportation networks to identify appropriate strategies and infrastructure needs, Chapman said. The next step, she added, will be to use the study to inform projects for future campus planning.
“Encouraging and providing alternatives to single-occupancy vehicles to move to, from and around campus will reduce congestion and air pollutions — and in most cases promote more active and healthy lifestyles,” Chapman said.
Notably, the report leaves out the extent to which Yale’s administration has come together to work toward the 2025 goals, Chapman said.
Media Chair for the Yale Student Environmental Coalition Dani Schulman ’20 said her undergraduate organization has not yet been included in the efforts surrounding the Sustainability Plan.
“We’re not all speaking the same messages right now, but we should,” she said. “We want to understand exactly how we can be part of that plan because currently we’re being left out of the conversation.”
The Yale Office of Sustainability was established in 2005 following the publication of a Yale Student Environmental Coalition report titled “The Yale Green Plan.”
Josh Purtell | firstname.lastname@example.org