William and Mary announces new green initiative

  • Green initiativesThe biodiesel fuel plant is just one of many campus sustainability efforts started by William and Mary students and faculty members.

    Photo by Stephen Salpukas.

    Green initiatives
  • Green buildingsThe Jamestown Dorms, which opened in 2006, were the first buildings at William and Mary designed to achieve leadership in energy and environmental design (LEED) "green building" certification.

    Photo by Stephen Salpukas.

    Green buildings
  • Green challengeAt the 2008 Opening Convocation ceremony, William and Mary President W. Taylor Reveley III challenged the campus community to help the College set the bar in environmental sustainability efforts.

    Photo by Stephen Salpukas.

    Green challenge

The College of William and Mary is launching a new initiative to address the challenge of environmental sustainability in a more comprehensive way. As a first step, the College recently formed a steering committee of campus members to develop, plan and recommend strategies for implementing the College's new sustainability policy.

 "The campus environment is very important to our College community. While we have made some progress, there is much more work to do," William and Mary President W. Taylor Reveley III said. "This new committee, combined with our new sustainability policy, will focus this critical effort. William & Mary can lead the way for other small universities with limited financial resources. We want to show how much progress can be made when you have a dedicated community working together."

Co-chaired by Lynda Butler, interim dean of the Law School and Chancellor Professor of Law, and Dennis Taylor, professor of biological sciences at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, the new Committee on Sustainability, or COS, includes students, faculty and staff members who have passion for improving the campus environment, Reveley said.

The first task of the steering committee will be to set the agendas and priorities of its subcommittees. The committee will also administer funds generated from the College's new "green fee." Last year, students overwhelmingly voted in support of an annual $30 green fee in order to support sustainability projects and research. The administration endorsed the fee, and it was approved last spring by the William and Mary Board of Visitors. The College adopted a sustainability statement last spring.

The fee will raise more than $200,000 per year toward initiatives to improve environmental sustainability on campus. Each year, the fee will support three funding initiatives -- facility improvements, student research grants and a "Green Endowment."

Co-chairs Butler and Taylor are looking forward to the work of the Committee on Sustainability. "I'm pleased to have been part of a quiet, serious discussion that developed the proposal for COS, and I look forward to being part of the process that will bring it to fruition," said Taylor. "This is a unique and very challenging opportunity for the College to transform itself in order to meet the challenges and demands of a sustainable future in ways that educate as well as adapt."

In addition to its faculty co-chairs, the Committee on Sustainability includes a staff representative, Dave Shepard (deputy director of facilities management); one graduate student, Jessica Parent (representing the Graduate Council); and two undergraduate students: Lauren Edmonds, under secretary for environmental policy in the Student Assembly, and Phil Zapfel, a senior majoring in English and environmental science and policy. Additionally, three ex officio members serve on the committee: Anna Martin, vice president for administration; Samuel Jones, vice president for finance; and Ginger Ambler, interim vice president for student affairs. Finally, two faculty members and one administrator serve both on the steering committee and as chairs of the three subcommittees: the science and technical advisory subcommittee is chaired by John Swaddle (associate professor of biology and director of the undergraduate Environmental Science and Policy Program); the finance and operations subcommittee is chaired by Bob Dillman (the College’s building official); and the programs and education subcommittee is chaired by Rowan Lockwood (associate professor of geology).

The goal of the sustainability committee, according to the policy adopted earlier this year, is to develop and recommend a program "that is based on sound principles of environmental science and policy in a way that leverages the intellectual capital and actively promotes the educational mission of the College."

The organizational structure of COS is "designed to create an interactive management process that links science and policy-based working groups with operations and finance working groups and with participants from the academic programs, student body, and staff," according to the committee's charge. "By bringing the full complement of the university’s intellectual strengths to bear of the question of how to best achieve sustainability," the charge continues, "the College can develop a campus sustainability program that truly integrates teaching, research and service into the fabric of the program, creating a self-perpetuating model of sustainable learning."