Celebrating new sustainability plan

By Suzanne Savanick Hanson

Having completed the final steps to formalize Macalester’s new Sustainability Plan, I would like to thank the members of the Sustainability Advisory Committee, the students in the 2008 and 2009 Environmental Studies Senior Seminar classes and the over 400 participants in the 2008-09 Sustainability Strategic Planning Process who helped shape this impressive plan. On Sep. 15, 2009, we submitted our sustainability plan to the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. The American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment is a network of 650 signatory schools that have agreed to address global warming through institutional commitments to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate the research and educational efforts of higher education to equip society to re-stabilize the earth’s climate.

Our plan incorporates our required climate action plan as part of a larger, comprehensive sustainability plan that includes the goals of achieving carbon neutrality by 2025; attaining zero waste by 2020; integrating sustainability into curriculum and student programs; adopting a green building policy to reduce emissions in facility construction and operations; decreasing carbon emissions from travel; and adopting a responsible purchasing policy.

For the past three decades, Macalester has proactively implemented numerous sustainable practices. However until now we have not set specific, measurable and tangible goals for sustainability that will impact every part of the institution. The plan, created through a yearlong, campus-wide process led by the Sustainability Office, reflects Macalester’s commitment to sustainability.

This plan underscores our college’s leadership among American colleges and universities. Only a few of those plans submitted to the ACUPCC are as ambitious and broad as Macalester’s, and our plan has piqued the interest of colleges across the country who will look to our plan and our participatory process as a model.

Hundreds of students, faculty and staff participated in the development of this plan, and it is through the commitment and vision of all of the campus community that the college will make meaningful changes to increase sustainability on our campus. I look forward to working with all parts of our community to implement this plan and make our vision a reality.

Suzanne Savanick Hansen is the Macalester College Sustainability Manager. She can be reached at [email protected]