Sustainability Office Update

February 24, 2016

To the members of the CSB community:

The Rule of Saint Benedict is filled with references to today's understanding of sustainability: stewardship, moderation, and awareness of God in the ordinary events of every day. Dating back to our founding, sustainability has long been a part of the College of Saint Benedict.

In 2007, the college became a charter member of the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment Leadership Circle. In 2010, CSB hired Judy Purman as the college's director of sustainability, opening an Office of Sustainability on campus and naming a Sustainability Council.

The Sustainability Council, under Judy's leadership, developed and implemented a Sustainability Master Plan which includes aggressive-but-attainable goals. From the outset, the goal of the Office of Sustainability was to embed the value and practices of sustainability into all areas of our community.

As a result of this effort, our community has achieved new standards and accomplishments, including:

  • CSB consumes over 45 percent less energy than similar institutions through a combination of conservation and careful business management, led by our facilities office.
  • CSB has eliminated trays in Gorecki Center, reducing food waste by 40 percent, led by culinary services.
  • CSB recognizes water as a human right and does not purchase or sell bottled water, a truly communal effort.
  • We have launched several student-led initiatives, including Eco-Reps, Cut the Current, Stash It, Don't Trash It! and the BIG Sale, composting and the Full-Circle Greenhouse.
  • New construction at CSB has been built to LEED standards, and our recent decision to repurpose existing buildings instead of building new supports both environmental and financial sustainability.

Throughout her time here, Judy has encouraged us to embrace our heritage of sustainability and we have worked to make sustainability a campus-wide initiative, embedded into all of our work.  With Judy's leadership, and her mentorship of students and alumnae in this area, we have achieved our goal of a campus-wide sustainability focus. Therefore, after much careful deliberation, we will discontinue the director of sustainability position as of June 30, 2016.  Please join me in thanking Judy for her years of valuable service.

Today, Judy and I spoke about her biggest hope for CSB and sustainability moving forward and how best to honor her service.  She said that the most important thing we can do is harness the energy of our students by providing guidance and mentoring as they make the world a better place.  Saint Ben's is committed to doing so.

The College of Saint Benedict will continue to implement ecologically sound, socially just, and economically viable practices, and to educating students about the principles of sustainability. The Office of Sustainability will continue to be an important presence in moving us forward.

  • The office will continue to report to Sue Palmer, vice president of finance and administration, as it has since its inception.
  • CSB's plans, policies, commitments to sustainability (such as the water bottle policy, our Greenhouse Gas Inventory and reduction strategies, and our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint) and student-led initiatives will continue. The CSB President's Office will maintain the college's national commitments to carbon neutrality and sustainability.
  • The CSB Sustainability Council will continue its work, with increased visibility, to ensure the values and practices of sustainability are embedded throughout the institution.
  • Departments including Facilities, Custodial, Grounds, Transportation, Culinary Services, Academic Affairs, Purchasing, and Residential Life will continue to serve on the Sustainability Council and to be held accountable to annual goals related to sustainability.
  • The CSB Sustainability Fellow will oversee the many actively engaged students and campus organizations who feel strongly about our continued progress, with the support and close supervision of the vice president of finance and administration.
  • Student internships related to sustainability will continue, as will student employment positions in the Office of Sustainability.

Last night, I met with students interested in future sustainability efforts on campus, and their thoughtful feedback will also inform our plans to ensure that CSB's ongoing commitment to sustainability remains visible in plans and in actions.  

Mary Dana Hinton, Ph.D.