Campus Sustainability Plan celebrates third year


Lehigh’s Office of Sustainability is hosting a series of workshops to celebrate the third anniversary of the Campus Sustainability Plan, which was instituted in 2012. The workshops are aimed at promoting environmental sustainability and green efforts on Lehigh’s campus.150414_Sustainability_Plan_02_WEB

The environmental initiative began at Lehigh in 2009 when the Climate Commitment was created and approved by former university President Alice P. Gast. The official document states the main purpose of the commitment is to ensure that the university creates policies to “protect and improve the environment through (Lehigh’s) teaching, research, faculty, student and staff service and administrative operations.”

This initiative continued with the Campus Sustainability Plan. According to the Sustainability at Lehigh website, the plan works to “advance the integration of environmental stewardship, social equity and economic responsibility into our intellectual footprint.”

Lehigh focuses on nine areas in which the institution can improve: built environment and land use; climate and energy; food and dining services; purchasing; academics and educational experience; community building and social equity; transportation; waste; and water.

Alex Derish, ’14, organized the first set of workshops, which occurred on Wednesday, to educate people about the definition of sustainability.

“A lot of people jump to (sustainability) being a biological science or something related to environmental sustainability,” he said. Sustainability can be generally defined as creating products and methods that fulfill today’s needs without sacrificing the power of future generations to do the same.

Katie Klaniecki, a sustainability program coordinator, said there have been sustainability projects before the initiative, but the project grew when the first series of workshops were held in February 2011. Delicia Nahman, a sustainability officer, organized these first workshops.

“It then became a more coordinated effort,” Klaniecki said. “It brought together staff, faculty and the students to talk about sustainability at our institution, what it means to us, what goals we should have, who should be involved and what should be prioritized. And from that, the first sustainability (plan) was written and published in 2012.”

Klaniecki also said the office reassesses its sustainability progress every three years.

“We come back and look at the progress we have made on the short term goals and then set new short term goals based on our results from the past,” she said. “And that’s what these workshops happening this spring are supposed to help with.”

The workshops are open to students, faculty and staff who want to voice their opinions about sustainability and help create a more sustainable campus.

To foster sustainability at Lehigh on a daily basis, students are participating in a national sustainability program called the “Real Food Challenge.”

Derish says the goal of the program at Lehigh is to have 20 percent of food consumed at the university to be “real food” by 2020.

“Real food is classified by being grown within 100 miles from where it is consumed,” Derish said.

To achieve this goal, there are nine facilities on campus that grow several types a vegetation for consumption.

Along with these small biological enhancements, Lehigh is looking to integrate many of its academic departments with sustainability plans and options.

Klaniecki said discussions about sustainability ethics will become a regular part of the College of Business and Economics. Although not every student may want to focus on sustainability, Klaniecki encourages those students to make decisions on a daily basis that are environmentally friendly.

Klaniecki also said if students want to help out in more passive ways, they should limit how much water they are using or cut down on the amount of waste they produce. Simple things, such as printing on both sides of a piece of paper, can also have a positive impact.

“What sustainability is doing is making Lehigh a great place now and making sure Lehigh is a great place in the future,” she said. “In that way, really everyone is interested in sustainability at Lehigh.”

The next workshop will take place April 23.

Comment policy

Comments posted to The Brown and White website are reviewed by a moderator before being approved. Incendiary speech or harassing language, including comments targeted at individuals, may be deemed unacceptable and not published. Spam and other soliciting will also be declined.

The Brown and White also reserves the right to not publish entirely anonymous comments.

Leave A Reply