Sustainability Action Plan Submitted to President Oxtoby

Pomona College Sustainability Coordinator Bowen Close submitted a draft of the college’s first-ever Sustainability Action Plan to President David Oxtoby yesterday.

With Oxtoby’s approval, the plan will be brought before the Board of Trustees in May. Pending their endorsement, it will become official school policy.

The plan explicitly lays out Pomona’s sustainability objectives over the next ten years, also including context and vision, guiding principles, history and methodology. It contains chapters on administration, education, energy, facilities, food and agriculture, pollution, purchasing, transportation, waste and water. The recommended actions are ranked by expense, time-frame and priority, and the plan sets specific goals and responsibilities for different Pomona facilities such as the Treasurer’s Office, the Sagehen Café, and Duplicating Services.

At approximately 100 pages, it is described by Close as an “Owner’s Manual” to sustainability at Pomona.

The text of the plan says that “Pomona College is committed to the principles of sustainability and to an active role in addressing and solving the environmental, social, and economic challenges and crises facing the planet,” and that “Pomona College aspires to be a leader of sustainable practices among educational institutions” as well as “to prepare its students and alumni to carry those practices into the world.”

The Sustainability Action Plan is based on the core assumption that, “as the College is a leader in education, it should be a leader in sustainability.”

The submission of the plan represents one of the last remaining steps in a lengthy process of forming and adopting a comprehensive school policy on sustainability.

The process began with President Oxtoby’s formal recognition of Pomona’s need to focus on sustainability issues in his 2006 Convocation speech. The next steps were the creation of a Pomona College chapter of the national Campus Climate Challenge initiative and President Oxtoby’s April 2007 signature of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.

This commitment required Pomona to complete a public emissions inventory and create a comprehensive action plan designed to help Pomona “achieve climate neutrality as soon as possible.”

The plan builds upon a 900-page audit conducted by CTG Energetics and Pomona College students in the summer of 2008, and on work done in 2008 and 2009 by a group of 29 students who researched and assessed potential steps in the action plan as part of the Sustainability Action Fellowship.

This year, Close revised and refined the plan with the help of the President’s Advisory Committee on Sustainability (PACS), a body of staff, students and faculty formed in 2006 to develop sustainability recommendations.

“This plan will set a framework for action,” said Close. “It’s a hugely significant move in the College’s sustainability efforts.”

She said the Sustainability Integration Office and PACS would be responsible for following up with all of the proposed actions during the appropriate time period, though other offices would have their own responsibilities under the plan. She hopes to reinstate the Sustainability Action Fellowship next year to get students involved in implementing the one- and two-year, high-priority projects as soon as possible.

The Plan will also require yearly progress reports that will “help us gauge process and will communicate to the campus community our successes and areas where we still need their help to improve our impacts,” according to Close.

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