Plan Infuses Sustainable Practices Throughout Campus Academics, Operations, Planning
Western Washington University has released its Sustainability Action Plan, which will serve as the university’s roadmap for protecting local and global ecology, upholding social equity, creating economic vitality, and maintaining human health.
“The completion of the Sustainability Action Plan is a milestone in Western’s commitment to sustainability. It not only advances a vision for how all members of the Western community can embrace and implement sustainable practices, it expands our thinking about how sustainability is connected to other important Western values, including social justice,” said Western President Sabah Randhawa.
“I am grateful for the commitment, passion, and hope that so many invested in the creation of this document and look forward to the seeing the campus community work together to implement this aspirational vision,” Randhawa said.
The Sustainability Action Plan infuses sustainable practices throughout campus, including academics; campus and community engagement; operations; and planning and administration.
Steve Hollenhorst, dean of Huxley College of the Environment, and co-chair of the Sustainability Advisory Committee, which provided guidance on development of the plan, said the intent was to enhance the wellbeing of the campus and region. “This plan is going to create a more sustainable Western, and more sustainable Salish Sea,” Hollenhorst said.
John Furman, director of Facilities Management, the other co-chair of the committee, noted that Western already follows many sustainable practices in its operations and the plan will boost such efforts. "Sustainability is part of Western’s fabric,” Furman said.
In January 2014, then Western President Bruce Shepard instructed the Campus Sustainability Advisory Committee to critically review the Presidents’ Climate Commitment and 2010 Climate Action Plan and offer prioritized recommendations to fulfill Western’s obligations with regard to those commitments.
In early 2015, the Sustainability Advisory Committee recommended to university administration that it draft a comprehensive Sustainability Action Plan; a Sustainability Action Plan coordinator was hired and from November 2015 to October 2017, the plan was drafted with campus-wide input, including three public input sessions.
The effort on campus was extensive, with 10 committees including 150 members as well as feedback from 35 campus departments, committees, student clubs and off-campus partners. About 1,200 comments were received on the plan.
President Randhawa approved the plan in October 2017. The next step will involve implementation of the plan.
Western has been a leader in many areas of sustainability since it established the nation’s first College of the Environment, Huxley, in 1969. Western students voted to collectively fund the purchase of Renewable Energy Credits in 2005, making Western the first campus in the United States to offset 100 percent of its carbon emissions from electricity usage with a self-imposed student fee.
In 2007 Western became one of the first 50 signatories to the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment. In 2015 Western established the Institute for Energy Studies, an interdisciplinary program that brings together science, technology, public policy, business and economics to prepare graduates to address the complex issues in sustainable energy. This year, the Sierra Club recognized Western as one of the top 30 sustainable schools in the United States.
Western continues to innovate through its academic programs, student-led initiatives to bring in local food to the dining halls, and staff enterprises to create innovative solutions to antiquated practices.