Office of Sustainability takes cues from Nutter’s city plan

The mayor’s Greenworks 2015 plan mirrors environmentally-friendly changes at Temple.

Under Mayor Michael Nutter’s administration, energy efficiency has become a focus in Philadelphia, and Temple has followed suit.

One of the first objectives in Nutter’s plan to make Philadelphia the greenest city in the U.S., was to create a sustainability cabinet. Temple mimicked this by creating the Office of Sustainability.

Sandra McDade, the director of sustainability, sits in her office. The office was created in 2008 and McDade works with staff and students.

The office originated when President Ann Weaver Hart appointed a Sustainability Task Force comprised of faculty, students and staff in April 2007.  Members completed a report in October 2007 that suggested Hart create the office. It opened in July 2008 and is headed by Director Sandra McDade.

“I think that if the Temple community, particularly the students, speak out in support of greening Temple’s campus, and their interest and expectations are expressed, then the culture of the campus as a whole will change and greener principles will be enacted in the future,” McDade said.

Temple will focus on achieving three major objectives: advancing academic initiatives and research, creating sustainable campuses and improving outreach and engagement.

The Office of Sustainability is responsible for creating a Sustainability Pledge, part of a long-term plan to reduce the university’s greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2030.

“Changing [the] behavior of the Temple community, via the Sustainability Pledge, is one of the tools we are using to reduce our carbon footprint,” McDade said.

Students can take the two-to-three-minute pledge found on the website.

As of Jan. 4, 2011, the halfway mark of 3,000 signatures was reached months before the original goal of Earth Day, April 22.

Nutter’s plan for Philadelphia creates a surge in energy savings for the city. Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles, will save $60 million in energy appropriations during the next 20 years by installing wind turbines, solar panels and a biodiesel power plant.

PECO energy donated 1,300 new compact fluorescent light bulbs to City Hall. The initial cost of $25,000 is projected to save the city and taxpayers $11,000 every year. PECO also granted Temple $50,000 for Ambler Campus’ green roof in 2005.

By installing more energy efficient technology inside Temple Towers, the university saw a 27 percent reduction of energy use.

“If you take into account the ‘life cycle’ of these green initiatives, we see that even if there is an upfront cost differential for employing more green technology, over the life cycle of the product, we will save money,” McDade said.

The Office of Sustainability has installed water fountains designed to refill water bottles on the first floor of every campus building. These fountains digitally show the number of disposable bottles saved by using the fountain.

“It is easy for me to go through a lot of plastic water bottles and using the water fountain to fill up my bottles can save me a lot of money,” said Emma Briggs, a freshman university studies major.

The Office of Sustainability has made significant changes to Temple’s campus in its two-and-a-half years of operation and will continue to fight for a greener university.

During the annual residence hall recycling event, items discarded by students after the spring semester will be donated to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, an organization that runs programs to help those in need. Last year, the event recycled 11,451 pounds from undergraduate residence halls.

Haley Kmetz can be reached at

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