Sustainability and Environment

“Sustainable development,” the United Nations articulated in its 2007 Brundtland Report, “is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” The College takes seriously the question of how we as an institution and as a community can integrate the principles of sustainability into our work and lives, and in particular how we can contribute to a reduction or mitigation of human-­induced climate change.

Haverford’s institutional footprint is modest in the face of global environmental challenges. We believe we can make the most meaningful impact through the many lives the College touches, in particular the lives of our graduates. Pursuant to that highest purpose, we are committed to fostering engagement with issues of sustainability in and out of the classroom and to modeling sustainable practices as an institution. We will concentrate our efforts across four categories:

  1. Academics. Most visibly embodied by the new Tri-Co environmental studies program, the Academic Plan calls for continued strengthening of areas of curriculum and scholarship that address issues of sustainability. Recent conversations about better utilizing the campus as a living laboratory hold promise for developing new resources and programming and enhancing collaborations among faculty, students, and administrative departments (see 1.B.4.).
  2. Engagement. It is our goal that every Haverford community member have the opportunity to engage ethical questions around sustainability and consider how we as individuals and groups can work toward a viable future for ourselves and our planet. The Committee on Environmental Responsibility (CER) is the campus community’s primary coordinating body for environmental issues. In addition to sponsoring a ‘green purchasing’ policy for campus operations, CER partners with departments in order to promote sustainable practices, ranging from local sourcing in the Dining Center to energy conservation strategies. We will increase the administration’s participation in CER in order to strengthen the group’s leadership role in promoting campus engagement, as well as support the continued engagement of the enterprising student groups pursuing other environmental goals, such as campus agriculture and the College’s provision of a “sin portfolio” of stocks that enables students to participate in shareholder activism with respect to companies that present particular social and environmental concerns.
  3. Operations. In our ongoing work to fulfill Haverford’s 2007 ACUPCC pledge to achieve carbon neutrality, and informed by the 2012 Climate Action Plan, the College currently buys 100% of its electricity from renewable sources and has made numerous other operational improvements to reduce energy consumption, mitigate our waste stream, and promote other sustainable practices. Under the leadership of the Sustainability Coordinator this work will continue as an integrated component of the College’s core operations. Immediate steps include:
    • All future buildings to meet or exceed LEED Gold standards or equivalent.
    • Electric Sub-­metering all major dorms, Dining Center and Magill Library to assess the performance of individual buildings and the energy use of their inhabitants, creating opportunities for energy savings and critical reflection on the implications of personal behavior on energy consumption.
    • Addition of building light sensors and automation systems.
    • Retro-­commissioning of GIAC to achieve new systems efficiencies.
  4. Planning & Administration. In 2013 the Board of Managers charged the College with a comprehensive review of its approach to environmental responsibility. Guided by a chief sustainability officer reporting directly to the president, Haverford will develop a more strategic institutional approach to sustainability and improve coordination and prioritization among its many ongoing activities. The first step of this work occurred in 2014 with the completion of the triennial AASHE/STARS survey to provide a new baseline of institutional activities. As an indicator of continued progress, our goal is to improve Haverford’s STARS rating from newly-­achieved silver to gold by 2020.