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  • AASHE-STARS

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 58.11
Liaison Melissa Tier
Submission Date April 19, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Swarthmore College
PA-2: Sustainability Planning

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.50 / 4.00 Aurora Winslade
Director of Sustainability
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have a published strategic plan or equivalent guiding document that includes sustainability at a high level? :
Yes

A brief description of how the institution’s strategic plan or equivalent guiding document addresses sustainability:

The Strategic Plan - "Strategic Directions for Swarthmore College 2011". The StratPlan is a comprehensive report that addresses sustainability at Swarthmore based off of responses from members throughout the campus community. The report addresses several faucets of sustainability including: financial sustainability so the College can provide for increasing numbers of students who are expected to need aid; sustainable education that prepares students adequately for changing technologies of our time while maintaining the recognition of the importance of liberal arts education; environmental stewardship in terms of both the Colleges practice of sustainable practices and features as well as further incorporation of sustainability in course content; and working on continuation of diversifying the campus community.


A copy of the strategic plan:
The website URL where the strategic plan is publicly available:
Does the institution have a published sustainability plan (apart from what is reported above)? :
Yes

A copy of the sustainability plan:
The website URL where the sustainability plan is publicly available:
Does the institution have a published climate action plan (apart from what is reported above)? :
Yes

A copy of the climate action plan:
The website URL where the climate action plan is publicly available:
Does the institution have other published plans that address sustainability or include measurable sustainability objectives (e.g. campus master plan, physical campus plan, diversity plan, human resources plan)? :
Yes

A list of other published plans that address sustainability, including public website URLs (if available):

Crum Woods Stewardship Plan: http://www.swarthmore.edu/Documents/administration/crumwoods/Conservation_and_Stewardship_Plan_2003.pdf

Crum Woods Vision, Created in 2016: please see document below in "Additional documentation to support the submission"

Sustainability Charrette:
http://www.swarthmore.edu/sites/default/files/assets/documents/sustainability/charrette.summary.03.19.15.pdf


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Curriculum?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Curriculum and the published plans in which each objective is included:

The Sustainability Charrette set goals to:
-Broaden the ENVS department to include more courses and minor or interdisciplinary programs
-Implement a first year seminar on sustainability
-Encourage faculty to increase topics around climate change in their courses
-Increase opportunities for faculty to learn about climate change themselves, and -Implement a "President's Seminar" focused on Climate Change.
The report provides cost projections for much of these projects and lists the objectives clearly. (Furthermore many have been acted on since this Charrette was held, for example, the recently implemented Presidents Sustainability Research Fellowship at Swarthmore largely fulfills objectives outlines in the President's Seminar proposal.)

The Strategic Directions document states these goals: "Through structures and incentives that encourage innovation, Swarthmore should foster a curriculum of intellectual rigor and creativity that combines disciplinary strength and flexibility." (pp. 12-16)


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Research?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Research and the published plans in which each objective is included:

Research
Objectives outlined in the Crum Woods Visioning Statement
-Work with the Office of Sustainability, PSRF fellows and others to create a database of research conducted in the Crum Woods.
-Develop an ecosystems services model for conservation in the Crum Woods
-Articulate the benefits of this model as well as kinds of understanding it discounts
-Address ethical concerns about the model’s underlying economic metaphor
-Work with CWSC and faculty to support new and ongoing research in the woods
-Facilitate the teaching of field techniques
-Ensure that all student and faculty research is responsibly completed and any impacts appropriately remediated


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Campus Engagement?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Campus Engagement and the published plans in which each objective is included:

-"With the addition of faculty and staff volunteers, the GA (Green Advisor) program will be expanded beyond the dorms into the academic and administrative buildings and the GAs will serve as resident experts to educate and facilitate sustainable living including energy conservation, waste reduction, recycling, and composting practices." (Climate Action Plan, p. 14) Note- GA program already in operation with the faculty and staff additions being planned currently.
-"Continue to recruit and support staff members whose contributions and devotion to the Swarthmore community make a profound impact on our students and others." (StratPlan, p. 21)
-"Develop a comprehensive diversity, inclusivity, and engagement plan that will transform the College into a model workplace and residential learning community in an increasingly complex global world." (StratPlan, p. 19)
-"Create study programs that engage students to follow the flows into and out of the campus of energy, water, food, waste, money, etc." (Sustainability Charrette, p. 8)


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Public Engagement?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Public Engagement and the published plans in which each objective is included:

-"Invest in the local community it ways that create green jobs." (Sustainability Charrette, p. 8) Example of success: Serenity Soular (See EN 10)
-"Leverage investments and purchasing power to support local communities as an anchor institution" (ibid, p. 9)       


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Air & Climate?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Air & Climate and the published plans in which each objective is included:

"Invest in sustainable environmental practices, including minimizing greenhouse gas emissions from the College’s own operation and preserving the Crum Woods." (StratPlan, p. 19)

Some key points from the Env. Sustainability Framework:
-Develop a carbon emission reduction implementation plan
-Develop a method for conducting life cycle analysis to account for the full costs of projects 
-Determine next steps for building metering and sub-metering
-Develop a timeline for phasing out campus steam, installing new heating systems, and reconfiguring the central plant
(See Executive Summary)

Note: since the Env. Sustainability Framework was published, the College has since designed and implemented a carbon charge and recently got approval to require all new construction to include life-cycle analysis on several building features.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Buildings?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Buildings and the published plans in which each objective is included:

Some of these targets include: 
• Energy: Target net-­‐zero carbon in all new building construction, design all new construction to 50% better than  ASHRAE 90.1-­‐2010 energy standards for buildings (before renewables), and achieve specific efficiency targets for all major projects.
• Indoor environmental quality and materials: Meet thermal comfort standards; provide access to quality lighting environments and utilize  efficient, long-­life fixtures; source 50% of materials from  sustainable sources; use low emitting  materials  where possible. 
• Operations and maintenance: Continue the existing preventative maintenance  program,  integrated pest management,  green cleaning, recycling, and educational programs; install  energy  and water meters in buildings; track utility use in a building-­‐by-­‐building basis; install educational (Sustainability Framework, Exec Summ)


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Energy?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Energy and the published plans in which each objective is included:

"Allocate $10 million annually for campus energy efficiency or establish a $25-­‐ to $50-­‐ million revolving fund" (Sustainability Charrette, p. 7)

"Achieve between 23% and 40% reduction over projected business as usual (growth adjusted) 2035 carbon emissions. Meter all buildings for electricity, steam, chilled water, and natural gas." (Env. Sustainability Framework, Exec. Summ)


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Food & Dining?:
No

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Food & Dining and the published plans in which each objective is included:
---

Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Grounds?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Grounds and the published plans in which each objective is included:

Landscape and stormwater management: Install a minimum of 45% native/adaptive vegetation and replace turf where possible with native/adaptive plantings; install LED exterior lighting  fixtures; reduce waste associated with projects. (Env. Sustainability Framework)


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Purchasing?:
No

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Purchasing and the published plans in which each objective is included:
---

Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Transportation?:
No

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Transportation and the published plans in which each objective is included:
---

Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Waste?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Waste and the published plans in which each objective is included:

The Sustainability Charrette suggests that the College needs to move towards zero waste. While this objective is broadly stated in the Charrette (p. 5), impactful actions towards zero waste have been pursued more aggressively in the last year, including waste audits and work on acquiring improved bin labeling; projects which are still in progress.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Water?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Water and the published plans in which each objective is included:

-Increase stormwater management techniques above those required by regulation 3 (to the 98% storm event) and improve the health of the Crum Creek watershed.

-Landscape and stormwater management: Install a minimum of 45% native/adaptive vegetation and replace turf where possible with native/adaptive plantings; install LED exterior lighting  fixtures; reduce waste associated with projects.

-Water conservation: Reduce potable water use by 35%; select efficient and low flow fixtures; offset  50% of irrigation with captured stormwater; utilize captured  stormwater for cooling towers  and other non-­‐potable uses (e.g. toilets).
(Sustainability Framework, Exec Summ)


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Diversity & Affordability?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Diversity & Affordability and the published plans in which each objective is included:

"Support teaching, learning, and research initiatives to cultivate traditional and new competencies and to support students who come to Swarthmore with a range of preparations" (StratPlan, p. 14)

"Swarthmore should recruit, admit, and support a varied and dynamic student body through its admissions and financial aid policies." (ibid, 24)

"Raise funds specifically for financial aid to secure restricted endowment support for the existing program, increase funds for future growth in aid, and expand aid for international students." (ibid, p. 26) See listings of particular objectives- pp. 24-28 in red.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Investment & Finance?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Investment & Finance and the published plans in which each objective is included:

"Invest heavily in improving energy efficiency and other environmental  functions of College-­‐owned facilities, including faculty housing." (Sustainability Charrette, p. 4) 

"Obtain the data needed to make informed investments:
a. Make the endowment portfolio transparent. 
b. Research actual performance of fossil fuel stocks.
c. Have all fund/financial managers respond to the question, How do you think about stranded assets risk?
d. Determine which of Swarthmore's financial managers, especially of the separately managed funds, are able to provide fossil-­‐free management." (ibid, pp. 4, 5) 


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Wellbeing & Work?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Wellbeing & Work and the published plans in which each objective is included:

"Develop a comprehensive wellness program for students and other members of the College community." (StratPlan, p. 20)

"We should expand or build a fitness center that will accommodate our entire community’s wellness and fitness efforts." (ibid, p. 21)


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address other areas (e.g. arts and culture or technology)?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address other areas and the published plans in which each objective is included:

"Recognize the value of faculty research and artistic production and support it vigorously." (StratPlan, p. 24)

"We should use technology to help students identify, understand, and converse with others about course content, study abroad, internships, and research experiences." (ibid, p. 15)  

"New or renovated academic facilities will support a number of key goals: encouraging collaboration across disciplines, expanding close mentoring relationships between students and faculty, and enlisting technology in the service of the most effective pedagogy and scholarship." (ibid, pp. 15, 16)


Does the institution have a formal statement in support of sustainability endorsed by its governing body (e.g. a mission statement that specifically includes sustainability and is endorsed by the Board of Trustees)? :
Yes

The formal statement in support of sustainability:

The Board formally approved both the Sustainability Framework and the Carbon Charge. Further, sustainability is included in the Strategic Directions Document.


The institution’s definition of sustainability (e.g. as included in a published statement or plan):
---

Is the institution an endorser or signatory of the following? :
Yes or No
The Earth Charter No
The Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI) No
ISCN-GULF Sustainable Campus Charter No
Second Nature’s Carbon Commitment (formerly known as the ACUPCC), Resilience Commitment, and/or integrated Climate Commitment Yes
The Talloires Declaration (TD) No
UN Global Compact No
Other multi-dimensional sustainability commitments (please specify below) ---

A brief description of the institution’s formal sustainability commitments, including the specific initiatives selected above:

Signed the ACUPCC (2010) and also a signatory of the White House Act on Climate Pledge (2015).


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
---

Additional documentation to support the submission:

Transportation: The Env. Sustainability Framework broadly addresses the need to conduct a campus Transportation emissions audit. Additionally, the Sustainability Charrette proposes several ideas for improving transportation sustainability. However, we feel that Swarthmore has not made significant efforts towards actually pursuing the ideas proposed, thus we shouldn't take credit for the broad ideas.

The College has formally adopted many of the outcomes of the Sustainability Charrette and is implementing them sequentially. Therefore, we consider this document of sort of planning document that has been used to forward sustainability at the College.

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.