iBerkshires.com Columnist SectionSue Bush
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Williams Takes Historic Step, Pledges Milestone Greenhouse Emissions Reduction12:00AM / Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Williamstown- Williams College today announced that a Board of Trustees vote unanimously approved establishing a goal to reduce the college's greenhouse gas emissions to a level of 10 percent below the college emissions of the 1990-91 academic year.
The goal target date is 2020. Below is a letter sent to the Williams College faculty, staff and students from college president Morton O. Schapiro.
The letter includes a link to a college Climate Action Committee report, which contains information about strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and additional information.
To the Williams Community,
Williams today commits to help lead the effort to reverse climate change induced by greenhouse gas emissions.
Last spring I formed a Climate Action Committee and asked its
members to recommend to the College a goal for reducing its emissions and the strategies to attain it. The Committee has worked commendably hard on this important task and issued a thoughtful report, which can be seen at http://www.williams.edu/go/cac/
I am pleased to say that President's Staff enthusiastically endorsed the report and that the Board of Trustees, in what someday may be
considered a historic vote, unanimously passed this resolution:
"WHEREAS, The President and Trustees of Williams College believe that the principles and practices of environmental sustainability in general, and greenhouse gas emissions reductions specifically, are institutional priorities,
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT:
As recommended by the President's Staff acting on the report of the
Climate Action Committee, Williams College hereby adopts as a goal the
reduction of its greenhouse gas emissions by ten percent below the College's 1990-91 emissions level by the year 2020."
This goal presents a considerable challenge but one that with strong,
continuing effort we can make.
Williams has long worked on issues of sustainability-in fact our
Center for Environmental Studies is the oldest in the country. Now we must make these considerations more central to how the college operates. Sustainability thus becomes for Williams a guiding principle, like those of accessibility and diversity.
We need to honor that principle in all that we do. Faculty in all
divisions will want to think of how to incorporate issues of sustainability into their courses. As you can see in the report, we will have to alter as a college what we buy and how we build, along with how we heat, cool, and light our buildings.
The report points out the importance of energy conservation, an
effort that must engage all of us on campus. We will need to limit our building growth. And we will have to adjust to working within budgets, for individual projects and for the College as a whole, that include significant investments in sustainability. Since resources are finite difficult decisions on tradeoffs lie ahead.
To coordinate this widespread campaign we are thinking about the best
way to develop a sustainability office. For now these efforts will be
centered in the office of Vice President for Operations Steve Klass, where it will be a prime responsibility for Manager of Special
Projects Stephanie Boyd. Devising mechanisms for the ongoing
involvement of faculty, staff, and students in this planning and implementation will be important.
Reversing the growth in greenhouse gas emissions will require a
worldwide effort, in which Williams should play a leading role. We do that, perhaps most effectively, by example in pursuing a goal that
is among the most ambitious of any college or university. We are
able at the same time to contribute significantly to the emissions reduction efforts of Williamstown and the region, both of which the
College is an important part. As an educational institution, our
greatest influence derives from our students, who, in this case, will be involved in multiple ways with an engaging and important effort, the lessons from which they will take with them as they enter the wider world.
We all owe thanks to the members of the Climate Action Committee for the hard intellectual work they have put into leading Williams to the
brink of this vital commitment.
[Williams College President Morton O. Schapiro]