Swarthmore’s Board of Managers today committed $12 million toward making the planned Biology, Engineering, Psychology (BEP) building a model for environmentally intelligent construction practices. Chair Gil Kemp ’72 announced the news on behalf of the Board in a message to the campus community this morning.
Motivated by and building on momentum already generated this semester by discussion around the College’s efforts to stem climate change, Kemp said the revised building plan will take the BEP from the previously planned LEED Silver equivalent standard to the equivalent of LEED Platinum with maximum energy savings, the highest standard of sustainable construction ever applied on campus.
“Significantly," he added, "the BEP will then provide a true living laboratory to educate future leaders in issues such as energy efficiency, water quality and pollution control, green construction, and climate change."
Kemp cited recent open forums held by on-campus leaders of climate change issues as clearly demonstrating the College community’s desire to implement a diverse array of strategies. He also noted that, following Interim President Hungerford’s call for action earlier this semester, “there was an outpouring of over 160 proposals from the campus community,” including programs to heighten campus awareness of environmental issues, new curricular approaches, and for the development of a higher quality sustainable building standard, referred to by some as “GARNET” standard. “We are eager to enable this idea through this new financial commitment,” Kemp said.
In addition, the Board’s Investment Committee recently acted to include the College’s investment managers in the ongoing conversation. The investment managers of the College’s endowment have been asked to detail their methods of evaluating direct costs of climate change, the effects of greenhouse gas emission and related regulatory policies on future returns, and how they consider carbon footprint when making investments.
“The progress made this semester is exciting and promising,” Kemp concluded. “I promise there will be still more progress made in 2015.”