Announcement of the Campus Sustainability Task Force
Dec. 2, 2019
Dear Brandeis Community,
Since signing the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment as a charter member in 2007, Brandeis continues to work to steadily reduce our carbon footprint. In 2009, we developed our first Climate Action Plan, which we revised in 2016 to elevate our commitment to sustainability by setting more aggressive short-term goals. And while there is still more to be done, we have taken significant steps to improve sustainability at Brandeis, including:
- Creating a campus energy management policy
- Increasing our use of renewable energy, such as solar energy
- Instituting LEED building design guidelines
- Creating the Brandeis Sustainability Fund to support undergraduate projects that promote sustainability
- Signing the “We’re Still In” pledge, which commits us to supporting the climate action to meet the Paris Agreement
- Setting a short-term goal of achieving a 15 percent reduction in emissions by 2020, which we are steadfastly pursuing every day
Now, as part of our commitment to revising our plan after five years, and because we are seeing how quickly the climate is changing, it is time to revisit and update our Climate Action Plan with the goal of further reducing our daily impact on the environment. To that end, I have created a new President’s Task Force on Campus Sustainability. You can read the charge I have issued to the task force below.
I am grateful to our faculty and staff colleagues and to our student representatives who have agreed to take on this important responsibility. The list of participants, which is still in formation, includes:
Mary Fischer, Manager, Sustainability Programs
Sabine von Mering, Professor of German, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Oliver Price ’20, Brandeis Senate Sustainability Committee Chair
Joseph Kweku Assan, Assistant Professor of Political Economy of Sustainable Development, Heller School for Social Policy and Management
Rebecca Gieseking, Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Ben Gomes-Casseres ’76, P’15, Peter A. Petri Professor of Business and Society at Brandeis International Business School
Dan Perlman, Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies
Jamele Adams, Dean of Students
Eric Dunn, Event Logistics Manager, BUSAC Representative for District F: Campus Operations
Dan Feldman, Vice President for Planning and Institutional Research
Zachary Kasdin ’18, Special Assistant to the President
Lois Stanley, Vice President for Campus Operations
Hannah Brown ’19, Graduate Student, Brandeis International Business School
Lydia Casmier, Graduate Student, Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Student Assistant in the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Sabrina Chow ’21, Undergraduate Student, Co-Chair of the Senate Sustainability Committee
Noah Sperber ’22, Undergraduate Student
Ann Ward ’19, Graduate Student, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
We are grateful, too, to the members of the Brandeis community who will be serving on the four working groups that will advise the task force. We will keep you informed and updated as the task force pursues its important work.
The task force chairs welcome the insights, questions, and suggestions of anyone in the Brandeis community. Please visit the President’s Task Force on Campus Sustainability to learn more and submit your ideas.
Statement Establishing the President's Task Force on Campus Sustainability
The President’s Task Force on Campus Sustainability is responsible for:
- Updating Brandeis’ 2016 Climate Action Plan to set new, more aggressive carbon reduction targets, and a plan and timeline for achieving them.
- Broadening the scope of the plan to include climate resilience, which focuses on climate adaptation and community capacity-building to deal with a changing climate and resulting extremes, and which would allow Brandeis to sign the Climate Commitment, a broader-scope commitment than the Carbon Commitment (to which we are a current signatory).
- Including in the plan principles around if or when to use financial mechanisms such as renewable energy credits and carbon offsets.
- Updating our Energy Conservation and Management Policy, and include in it a new standard for design and construction of new buildings and renovations that incorporates best practices in sustainability.
- Making recommendations for additional campus sustainability initiatives and best practices in areas including but not limited to waste reduction, including a plastic reduction policy; dining services; diversity, equity, and inclusion; procurement; and incorporating climate change education in the classroom.
- Making recommendations with respect to the potential creation of formal mechanisms to address sustainability goals at Brandeis.
Four working groups will make recommendations to the task force.
A Working Group on Campus Operations will identify opportunities for reducing energy use on campus through such techniques as energy-efficient building upgrades and facilities maintenance, and adoption of forward-looking design standards for new construction.
A Working Group on Community Engagement will help ensure that a broad array of Brandeis community perspectives are represented in the work of the task force, and that the resulting Climate Action Plan presents equitable solutions. In addition, in light of the trustees’ announcement in November 2018 of a comprehensive policy on fossil fuel investment and their commitment to reviewing that policy three years thereafter, this working group will promote dialogue about the role that fossil fuels and alternative energy investments should play in the university’s investment portfolio after the end of that three-year period.
A Working Group on Incorporating Climate Change in the Classroom will make recommendations for ways to expand climate change teaching and research, including with respect to developing curriculum and other educational experiences for all students.
A Working Group on Climate Resilience will lead a resilience assessment to help us anticipate, prepare for, and respond to short-term events and long-term trends resulting from climate change. It will help identify risks and opportunities for planning to mitigate adverse impacts from these events and trends.
The task force should complete its work by the end of this academic year.