Swarthmore Creates New Position for Sustainability Director

by Alisa Giardinelli

To support strategic initiatives and to address a critical need, Swarthmore has created a new position for a sustainability director. The position, which will work out of the President's Office, was approved by the Board of Managers at its Feb. 23 meeting as part of the 2013-14 budget.

"This is a very welcome development and a further testament to the College's commitment to addressing the critical issue of climate change," says President Rebecca Chopp. "Our work is now to form a search committee so we can fill this crucial position."

Professor of Engineering E. Carr Everbach, a former co-chair of the College's Sustainability Committee, echoes Chopp's enthusiasm. "This is an absolutely huge step forward for the College," he says. "I'm proud of what we've accomplished so far, but until we have someone here on campus with the knowledge and experience to facilitate our efforts on sustainability, we won't make significant progress."

The sustainability director will be charged with implementing the College's sustainability policy and working with faculty, students, and staff members to mitigate the College's environmental impact. S/he will also help to establish Swarthmore as a recognized leader in integrating sustainability into all aspects of the College's educational mission, its operations, and its institutional and community life and culture.

One of the director's primary responsibilities will be to implement the College's nearly finished College's Climate Action Plan, which will guide the College's carbon neutrality efforts over the next two decades. Chopp's signing of the American Colleges and University Presidents Climate Commitment in 2010 propelled the development of this plan for the College.

Over the past several years, Swarthmore has steadily reduced its use of electricity and heating fuel. Some of this progress has come as a result of cutting out waste and managing use, while the College has also worked to make more responsible energy choices over time. Currently 100 percent of the College's greenhouse gas emmissions generated as a result of electricity are offset by Renewable Energy Credits. The College has also partnered with the Borough of Swarthmore to be recognized as a Green Power Community and are listed as a leader in the Green Power Partnership sponsored by the EPA.