I participated in the Second Annual Lasell College Strategic Planning Meeting over the weekend. I knew I was invited to participate because of my involvement in environmental efforts on campus. I arrived at the meeting ready to advocate that sustainability goals should be added to the Vision 2012. While there is general consensus across campus that we need to make Lasell College a greener place to live, work, and study, I knew sustainability goals would have to be specific and measurable to make the Vision 2012.
I suggested in my breakout group that Lasell College should set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 10% by 2012. I also advocated that we should reach at least a 30% recycling rate in that time. I chose 10% as it slightly more aggressive than the 2% per year we are going to need to reach our goal of an 80% reduction by 2050. A 30% recycling rate is moderate. Highly successful college campuses are now recycling at rates of about 50% waste and 50% recycling.
The sustainability goals I suggested did make the short list and were seriously considered by all the participants in the meeting. However in the end the goals did not make the Vision 2012. Failing to make the Vision 2012 list does not mean that we will not reach these goals but it does mean that we won't have the support of the entire institution visibly behind us. Setting and meeting sustainability goals is going to rely on the work of the Environmental Sustainability Committee as well as other motivated faculty, staff, and students across campus.
I understand the factors meeting participants had to consider in voting for items to be added to the Vision 2012. While it is disappointing, it is not devastating to not make the list. Sustainability at Lasell College will still happen. Early steps towards reaching our greenhouse gas reduction goal can be made through changes to the culture and behavior on campus. To make those changes, we do not need sustainability to be positioned on the strategic plan. However we will reach a point where investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency will have to occur if we want to continue to make progress towards our reduction goals. At that point it will be essential to make sustainability goals part of strategic plan.