Office of Sustainability, TU Bio Society and TU SEEDS host first Earth Day Expo

Temple’s Office of Sustainability debuted its 2024 Sustainability Action Plan while climate action student organizations tabled.

Held in the Science Education and Research Center, the Office of Sustainability and other environmental groups held the first Earth Day Sustainability Expo. | FERNANDO GAXIOLA / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple’s Office of Sustainability, TU Bio Society and TU SEEDS held the university’s first Earth Day Sustainability Expo in the lobby of the Science, Education and Research Center on Monday. 

Participants, who passed through between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., learned about sustainability efforts through departmental research, individual club sustainability objectives and action plan development.

The Office of Sustainability used the event to debut an early version of its 2024 Sustainability Action Plan. The plan remains in development, so the Office asked for feedback from the Temple community, allowing them to place sticky notes with suggestions on the presentation boards. 

The next plan approaches climate action holistically, split into three main themes: conservation and stewardship, discovery and governance and justice and culture. It aims to address climate action by acknowledging the interconnectedness of human and ecological health, racial equity and economic and social justice. 

“So in a broad sense, we’re hoping to cover everything from are you learning about sustainability in the classroom to how are you engaging with it, all the way to how do we improve sustainable transportation for students,” said Bryce Forys, the sustainability coordinator at the Office of Sustainability. 

The next iteration of the action plan comes five years after the Office of Sustainability’s most recent 2019 Climate Action Plan and its initial 2010 Climate Action Plan, which set a path to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 on campus. 

The Office of Sustainability noticed various areas of the recent plan that could be improved, including separating the emissions reduction plan from the holistic definition of sustainability, Forys said. 

The Sustainability Action Plan won’t specifically address lowering carbon emissions because the Office is also developing an emissions reduction plan, which will focus on the path to carbon neutrality. Instead, it will focus on things like food insecurity on campus, sustainable transportation and connecting with community members.

The plan addresses energy, emissions and design with objectives like decreasing energy use intensity per square foot on Temple campuses and growing Temple’s Green Revolving Fund, which holds rebates from energy efficiency projects, among other objectives. 

One of the new milestones related to teaching and learning sustainability on the 2024 action plan includes increasing the number of academic departments with sustainability course offerings from the 2023 baseline by 30% by 2030, which has 44% progress so far.

The plan also addresses carbon emissions from commuter students with its goal of having 75% of commuters utilize sustainable transportation to Main Campus by 2030. 

The last section of the plan highlights engagement and awareness, aiming to lead education and advocacy initiatives, forge events fostering dialogue and connections surrounding sustainability and a commitment to climate action and policy.

Students left feedback asking for more events relating to transfer students and for departments to release guidelines for purchasing sustainable academic materials, like textbooks and lab equipment.

One note suggested, “more options to take sustainability classes outside of your own college,” and another read, “encouragement of collaboration between colleges on sustainable initiatives and course offerings.”

Besides the presentation of the 2024 Sustainability Action Plan, various clubs, like TU SEEDS, or Temple Strategies for Ecology, Education, Diversity and Sustainability, and Temple Climate Action, held booths at the expo to educate students about their own organization.

“Everyone has come up to us and has been really engaged and wanting to learn more about our organization and a lot of people have started to come through on our GroupMe and started to put down their names and emails and they really seem to want to get involved,” said Morgan Dey, a senior natural sciences major and vice president of TU SEEDS. 

Other groups, like the federal organization Climate Action Pennsylvania, were advocating for signatures on various petitions, like support for the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which is designed to ensure minority voters are able to equally participate in the electoral process. 

The non-partisan group was also holding petitions for other causes that generally support climate action and environmental consciousness. 
If any student or member of the Temple community who was not present at the event would like to submit feedback regarding the 2024 Sustainability Action Plan, an online feedback form has been made available.

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