Miller Worley responds to report on MHC sustainability

BY  MERYL PHAIR ’21

Nancy Apple, Associate Director of Sustainability for the Miller Worley Center for the Environment, and Shannon Seigal ’19, Miller Worley Center for the Environment’s fellow and task force member, met with Mount Holyoke students on Friday, Oct. 27, to discuss draft recommendations in light of a report released by the Sustainability Task Force earlier this month which evaluated Mount Holyoke’s current level of sustainability. 

The draft report was available online for review and comments by members of the Mount Holyoke community through Oct. 29. Recommendations from the campus community will help the Sustainability Task Force evaluate previous and current campus initiatives and develop sustainability goals and strategies. 

After reviewing peer institutions, the task force made recommendations for advancing sustainability on campus. These include an increase in the availability of environmental education, use of alternate fuel sources in transportation, improvement in energy efficiency, increase in local agricultural providers in the dining halls and the elimination of food waste and food packaging. 

After collecting feedback on their draft, the final Sustainability Plan will be written up by 2018. “We want to set realistic times and budgets,” Apple said. The plan will provide a campus-wide road map for moving sustainability forward at Mount Holyoke over the next five years and beyond. 

Sustainability features are already being incorporated into campus life through the four core areas outlined by the Sustainability Draft: education and awareness; buildings, energy use and transportation; sustainable-food purchasing and dining operations; and grounds and campus field research. 

The education and awareness of the Mount Holyoke community is of utmost importance to the 28-member Task Force, which is made up of faculty, staff and students. “It’s all about those conversations that are actively being sought out,” said Seigel. The Task Force is already in the process of putting up a kiosk in front of Clapp Laboratory as well as one outside of the Willits-Hallowell Conference Center that will serve as an information booth. The task force hopes that this is only the beginning of a culture of sustainability on campus that they’ve been actively cultivating.

For buildings, energy use and transportation, the Task Force has recommendations for retrofitting, including the addition of new sustainability features on already existing buildings and incorporating energy efficient materials in all new constructions.

Sustainable food purchasing and dining operations will be seen in the opening of the new Blanchard Campus Center in the Spring. A new standard for food will be set, including the incorporation of local food providers. 

In grounds and campus research, the Task Force is reaching out to the community for feedback as well as student-run sustainability organizations such as Zero Waste. They are committed to improving sustainability and reaching carbon neutrality by 2037. An online feedback form that can be found under the Miller Worley Center for the Environment on the Mount Holyoke College website. 

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