The Office of Sustainability, recently announced by President Ann Weaver Hart, is the first step to new university-wide policies on making Temple’s campuses more environmentally friendly.
The function of the new office will be to “integrate sustainable principles into Temple’s operational, academic and service functions,” Hart said in the announcement.
In the past, efforts have been conducted on an individual basis without any general oversight or university guidelines. The office aims to provide a central location from which all efforts may be coordinated, said Vice President of Operations William Bergman.
A search is currently underway for someone to head the new office.
“This is a job that people want,” Bergman said. “This is an opportunity to come in and start an office from scratch and build it with the best methods you can.”
With applications coming both from within and outside of the university, a candidate should be chosen within the next few months.
Bergman also co-chaired the Sustainability Task Force formed by Hart last spring, which submitted its recommendations this past October. The task force was a collaborative effort between select administrators, professors and students to find the best initiatives to make the university more sustainable.
“One of the things as we look at sustainability is, how do we green the neighborhood? What Temple can do is act as a catalyst to get other people involved,” Bergman said.
At the beginning of winter, university students volunteered to winterize houses in nearby neighborhoods to reduce energy costs.
Another task force suggestion was the creation of a new sustainability sciences undergraduate track, a degree focus independent of a student’s major.
“I think that there were some people on the committee that thought ‘well maybe this is something we’d like to see as a major,’ ” Bergman said. “But obviously this is something that we’d have to take out of the long-term list.”
Students for Environmental Action is pushing for change, including the signing of the Presidents’ Climate Change Commitment. The commitment is a pledge by American college and university presidents recognizing the issue of global warming and working to prevent it.
“[Dr. Hart] definitely intends to sign it, and now it’s a matter of doing it so we can maximize the value of the activity of signing it,” said Vaughn Shinkus, the president’s communications manager. “We’re at a point where we’ve got ongoing conversations with [SEA] about shared interests and we’re moving forward together.”
Provisions of the commitment include creating an infrastructure within two months of signing, taking an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions within one year, and establishing an institutional plan for climate neutrality within two years.
“We want little gestures in the beginning, because the little gestures and the little savings become big savings at the end,” Bergman said.
Kriston Bethel can be reached at email@example.com.