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Sustainability Charrette

February 11th and 12th, 2015

Swarthmore College hosted a Sustainability Charrette* on February 11th and 12th, 2015. This unique event combined inspiring and thought-provoking talks from leaders in sustainable design, engineering, policy, and economics with a collaborative, facilitated process to bring forth our best ideas for a sustainable campus, starting with and building upon the 160+ sustainability proposals generated this fall. The Board’s recent commitment to make the planned Biology, Engineering, Psychology (BEP) building a model for environmentally intelligent construction practices is just the beginning. The Managers have already made it clear that they are willing to commit substantial resources to help Swarthmore become a leader in the efforts to combat climate change.

Expert facilitator, Sandy Wiggins, guided students, faculty and staff through a refinement of ideas into a concrete list at the end of the two days. These facilitated sessions were enhanced by presentations from sustainability experts David Orr, Nikki Silvestri, Hunter Lovins, Bill Browning, John Fullerton, Greg Kats, and Kevin Hydes. Their collective insights throughout the intensive two-day process helped shape the conversation and sharpen our vision of the College’s future. Please click here for biographies for these invited guests.

This collaborative two-day event was a rare opportunity to learn from experts while simultaneously formulating the College’s efforts to address the challenges of climate change as a community. The challenges posed by climate change are unprecedented, but the opportunities those challenges present—opportunities to recreate our society on a more just, equitable, and humane basis—are also unparalleled.  Please click here for a summary of the charrette outcomes and next steps [PDF]. Please also stay tuned for invitations for further conversation.

The links below also provide more information on this unique event:

* A charrette is an intensive, collaborative effort to complete a solution to a complex problem before a given deadline.  The deadline provides a sense of urgency that heightens creativity and teamwork.  Charrettes are often used in urban planning and building design to bring together citizens, government officials, and experts to gather input and create joint ownership of a project.