Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 66.74
Liaison Cathy Liebowitz
Submission Date March 30, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Emerson College
PA-2: Sustainability Planning

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.50 / 4.00 Amy Elvidge
Sustainability Coordinator
Campus Services
"---" 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? :
No

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

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)? :
No

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):

INCLUSIVE EXCELLENCE ACTION PLAN
The Office of Diversity & Inclusion has created an Inclusive Excellence (IE) Action Plan to help departments assess current strengths and opportunities for growth in key areas of Inclusive Excellence and campus climate, and then set goals for the academic year. For 2015-16 the goals will be based on the results of Emerson360: Community Climate Survey. This year’s new action plan is attached below. Action planning and goal setting can be completed in many ways, such as office retreats, staff meetings, leadership team discussions, or establishing a task force within the department, using the Emerson360 results for each department to guide your planning.

http://www.emerson.edu/sites/default/files/Files/Emerson360%20Department%20Action%20Plan.pdf
Result of our Campus Climate Survey.


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:

"iii. Actions to make climate neutrality and sustainability a part of the curriculum and other educational experience for all students." Climate Action Plan


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:

"iv. Actions to expand research or other efforts necessary to achieve climate neutrality." Climate Action Plan


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:

"iii. Actions to make climate neutrality and sustainability a part of the curriculum and other educational experience for all students." Climate Action Plan

The Sustainability Coordinator position and the student Eco Reps were created by way of the Climate Action Plan. These positions work to engage the campus community.


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:

Civic and Global Engagement are two tenets of the Five Strategies.

Civic Engagement: Emerson College therefore has as its major goals for this initiative:
To develop a culture of civic-mindedness, civic action, and civic education at Emerson;
To establish deep and meaningful engagement with Boston urban communities through a robust program of civic engagement that is intentionally integrated into the curriculum and co-curriculum of the College, and that further develops our commitment to diversity and inclusion; To provide a platform for civil discourse about issues of social consequence.

Global Engagement: As an institution of higher education, we are committed to mutually beneficial engagement with the global society in which we participate, and to ensuring that all members of our community are prepared to thrive in that society. Our over-arching aims in this work are: To be known as an institution that attracts and welcomes students and faculty from around the world; To be known as an institution that values and actively fosters intercultural knowledge and competence in faculty, staff, and students; To be known as an institution that understands itself in a global context, and that actively engages with international communities, organizations and institutions at home and around the world.


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:

Climate Action Plan:

Emerson College has established 2030 as its target year for climate neutrality. The College has identified several measures that can be implemented in the short- and medium-term that will reduce energy usage and GHG emissions.
____

It is clear that while there are several opportunities to reduce direct and indirect emissions
associated with the College there is no way to eliminate them entirely short of purchasing
renewable energy and emissions offsets. As part of its commitment under the ACUPCC, the College must achieve climate neutrality; i.e. net zero emissions. Therefore the College must
purchase Renewable Energy Credits and Carbon Offsets to achieve that goal.

Renewable Energy Credits – The College currently purchases Green-e certified Renewable
Energy Credits (RECs) from Community Wind for 20% of its campus electricity usage. In
accordance with the ACUPCC commitment, the college will incrementally increase its REC
purchase percentage by 8% every 2 years up to 100% of its electricity consumption by 2029.
The purchased volume for each REC contract will be based on the previous year’s electricity
consumption times the percentage of RECs for the contract year. E.g. in 2011 the REC purchase
volume will be 28% of the 2010 electricity usage of the College. The increase is incremental to
limit the budget impact in any given year. Covering 100% of the College’s current electric load
at current prices will cost anywhere from $30,000-$60,000 per year in today’s dollars. This
purchase will eliminate (via offset) all of the emissions associated with the College’s electricity
usage.

Carbon Offsets – The College will purchase Carbon Offsets to offset emissions from direct
combustion, district steam usage, vehicle fleet, and commuting. The College will only purchase
offsets that have been verified by a third party to be in accordance with either the Voluntary
Carbon Standard or the Gold Standard for Carbon Offsets. There are many project types that can
generate Carbon Offsets, ranging from forestry to renewable energy to industrial process
improvement. The College will aim to purchase offsets from projects that are consistent with its
overall values and mission. This purchase will increase incrementally at a similar schedule to the
REC purchase, reaching 100% of emissions in 2029. Offset pricing can vary substantially
depending on what type of project is generating the offsets, but at $5/metric ton (which is
expensive for voluntary offsets) the annual offset cost in 2029 will be an estimated $37,000 in
today’s dollars.

While REC and Offset purchase volumes will correlate to the schedule in Table 5, they may be
purchased more strategically than the simple escalation laid out in the schedule. REC and Offset
prices are subject to market volatility, and the College is considering a strategic purchasing
approach in which it purchases partial volumes for future years at different advance dates. This
will help to smooth out market volatility and at the same time allow the College to take
advantage of purchase opportunities when they arise.

The carbon neutrality year for the College is 2029 according to the offset and REC purchase
schedule. The official goal of the college is carbon neutrality by 2030. There is a buffer year
built into the schedule to take into account schedule slippage for projects and REC/Offset
purchases.

Carbon Offsets and RECs are very inexpensive compared to the overall operations budget of the
College. However it is important to prioritize on-campus reductions over offset projects as they
will usually produce a tangible cost benefit as well as other local benefits (e.g. elimination of
cafeteria trays saves energy and also reduces food waste). REC and Offset purchases do not
provide any direct physical or financial benefit to the College.
___

As required by the ACUPCC, the College will update its emissions inventory every other year
and issue a report to the ACUPCC summarizing the emissions trends of the school. This report
will contain emissions data on all College GHG sources and comment on trends that are
observed.

The College will form a small Climate Change Committee that will meet on a quarterly basis to
monitor emissions and manage the measurement and reporting process. This committee will also
be tasked with finding additional Energy Conservation Measures that may be implemented to
further reduce campus emissions. The Climate Change Committee will also be responsible for
identifying legitimate verified offset opportunities to ensure the College is actually reducing its
emissions.


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:

Climate Action Plan:

As is the case with most colleges and universities, the bulk of Emerson’s GHG emissions come
from electricity and fossil fuel usage in buildings. While electricity and thermal products will
always need to be utilized in buildings, several measures both large and small have been
identified that would help to mitigate these emissions.

80 Boylston Steam Switch – The College will cease to burn natural gas in two boilers to meet the thermal loads of the 80 Boylston St. building. The college will instead purchase its steam for the building from the Trigen district steam system. District steam has a lower emissions factor than self-generated steam, so the overall emissions impact will be negative. The College will keep one boiler connected as a backup and then remove it once the steam service has been fully established. The estimated annual GHG reduction from this measure is 363
metric tons. The Trigen steam company has been putting forth a concerted effort to increase the efficiency of its steam generation and distribution systems. As this effort continues, the
emissions reductions associated with the ‘greening’ of the steam distribution should become
apparent.

Dishwasher Upgrade– The College has purchased a Stero ER-66S EnergyStar rated dishwashers for use in its dining hall as an upgrade from its previous unit. This dishwasher will provide the
college with efficient cleaning and energy saving capabilities. When compared with non-Energy
Star dishwashers with similar characteristics, like the Jackson A-J 66, the ER-66S consumes
23% less energy annually. Using broad assumptions of operating characteristics, the dishwasher
upgrade will reduce GHG emissions by approximately 3 metric tons. Although a very minor
reduction, this project is a good example of taking advantage of equipment upgrade opportunities
at the end of useful life when substantial energy savings can be realized for only a small
incremental cost.

216 Tremont St. Boiler Upgrade – The boilers at 216 Tremont St. are nearing the end of their
useful life and are due to be replaced. Installing new high-efficiency equipment will conservatively save 10% of the annual natural gas usage at the building. The estimated GHG
reduction from this measure will be 25 metric tons per year.
Shut-Down Procedures for High-Energy Rooms – With its curricular emphasis on the arts and
communications, the College has several studios, theaters, and other energy intensive multimedia
spaces. These spaces have energy-intensive equipment that is often left turned on
unnecessarily. Room shut-down checklists will be posted in all energy-intensive rooms to
encourage people to turn off equipment when they leave the rooms. The estimated GHG
reduction from this measure will be 10 metric tons per year.


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:

From Climate Action Plan:

Dorm Energy Competitions – Inter-dorm energy competitions have grown increasingly popular in recent years and have been shown to be effective in reducing dorm energy usage by up to 20% during competitions. Long-term reductions resulting from the competitions are less easily defined. For the sake of this analysis, we assume a lasting 5% reduction for each of the first 2 years and then a 2% annual reduction thereafter. This is anticipated to be the most effective
mitigation measure in the long-term because it will permeate a culture of sustainability practices. The estimated GHG reduction from this measure will be 161 metric tons in the first year, 314 metric tons in the second year, 372 metric tons in the third year, increasing up to 1,075 metric tons below baseline in the 12th year.

Computer Lab Power Settings – The College has several computer labs with computer that are left turned on continuously. The College will coordinate with its IT department to actively manage the power settings in campus computing resources to ensure that they are only turned on when necessary. It is difficult to accurately predict the GHG emissions reductions that will be achieved by this measure because the ultimate result is unknown. However, a conservative estimated GHG reduction from this measure is 10 metric tons per year.

Renewable Energy and Carbon Offsets
It is clear that while there are several opportunities to reduce direct and indirect emissions
associated with the College there is no way to eliminate them entirely short of purchasing
renewable energy and emissions offsets. As part of its commitment under the ACUPCC, the College must achieve climate neutrality; i.e. net zero emissions. Therefore the College must
purchase Renewable Energy Credits and Carbon Offsets to achieve that goal.
Renewable Energy Credits – The College currently purchases Green-e certified Renewable
Energy Credits (RECs) from Community Wind for 20% of its campus electricity usage. In
accordance with the ACUPCC commitment, the college will incrementally increase its REC
purchase percentage by 8% every 2 years up to 100% of its electricity consumption by 2029.
The purchased volume for each REC contract will be based on the previous year’s electricity
consumption times the percentage of RECs for the contract year. E.g. in 2011 the REC purchase volume will be 28% of the 2010 electricity usage of the College. The increase is incremental to limit the budget impact in any given year. Covering 100% of the College’s current electric load at current prices will cost anywhere from $30,000-$60,000 per year in today’s dollars. This purchase will eliminate (via offset) all of the emissions associated with the College’s electricity usage.
Carbon Offsets – The College will purchase Carbon Offsets to offset emissions from direct
combustion, district steam usage, vehicle fleet, and commuting. The College will only purchase offsets that have been verified by a third party to be in accordance with either the Voluntary Carbon Standard or the Gold Standard for Carbon Offsets. There are many project types that can generate Carbon Offsets, ranging from forestry to renewable energy to industrial process improvement. The College will aim to purchase offsets from projects that are consistent with its overall values and mission. This purchase will increase incrementally at a similar schedule to the REC purchase, reaching 100% of emissions in 2029. Offset pricing can vary substantially depending on what type of project is generating the offsets, but at $5/metric ton (which is expensive for voluntary offsets) the annual offset cost in 2029 will be an estimated $37,000 in today’s dollars.
While REC and Offset purchase volumes will correlate to the schedule in Table 5, they may be purchased more strategically than the simple escalation laid out in the schedule. REC and Offset prices are subject to market volatility, and the College is considering a strategic purchasing approach in which it purchases partial volumes for future years at different advance dates. This will help to smooth out market volatility and at the same time allow the College to take advantage of purchase opportunities when they arise.


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

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

Eliminate Dining Hall Trays – Reduce GHG emissions through eliminating trays on campus. Included in CAP and completed in 2012. Original measurable ojective GHG estimation to be accomplished through completing the initiative is 8 MTCDEs.


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

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

NA, no grounds on our campus


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

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

From Climate Action Plan:
As is the case with most colleges and universities, the bulk of Emerson’s GHG emissions come from electricity and fossil fuel usage in buildings. While electricity and thermal products will always need to be utilized in buildings, several measures both large and small have been identified that would help to mitigate these emissions.

EnergyStar Purchasing Policy – The College will establish an EnergyStar purchasing policy for all appliances, lighting, and other plug-loads. Simply put, this policy will state that the school must purchase EnergyStar products whenever it is possible, and document the reason for any exceptions. The emissions reductions achieved from this measure are very difficult to forecast, but this analysis estimates that this policy will have a continuously increasing effect on campus energy usage. The ultimate GHG emissions reduction from this measure is anticipated to be 25 metric tons.

Additionally the new Climate Action Plan, being drafted by 2019, will include recommendations for recycled paper content and EPEAT certification.


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

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

Climate Action Plan:

The GHG emissions from staff commuting are already very low for the commuting population due to high utilization of public transport. However, there is still room for improvement. If half of the people who drive alone to work could be incentivized to utilize an alternative form of transportation, the emissions reduction would be an estimated 79 metric tons CO2-e. While this is not a large number in itself, it would represent almost a 1% reduction in overall campus emissions.

The College is considering multiple strategies to encourage drivers to find alternative modes of transportation. These include scaling back the subsidized parking that some staff members receive and redirecting the money towards subsidizing public transportation passes. Another option being considered is increasing the flexibility of the hours

An additional reduction in commuting emissions will be achieved by the addition of ~600 beds of on-campus dorm capacity as per current build-out plans. This is part of the College’s larger goal of reaching housing capacity for 70% of its students, which would make Emerson a true residential campus. While this will increase the direct and indirect emissions of the campus by adding square feet of built area, the increase will be somewhat offset by the increase in students that are able to walk to campus. The actual reduction will be difficult to estimate until students actually move in and new commuting patterns are established, but for the sake of this analysis, the GHG emissions reductions from increased on-campus housing is estimated to be 100 metric tons CO2-e.


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:

College-wide goal: 30% diversion rate by 2020 (http://www.emerson.edu/sustainability/recyclemania)

Waste Management Action Plan (2017, see attached at bottom)
Proposed changes for FY18

General Management:

Organize and coordinate recycling and compost waste storage bins. Bins in Allen’s Alley are currently scattered and recycling and compost bins contain construction debris. Make cardboard compactor more accessible for dining hall staff by clearing a path through the loading area. Provide compost and recycling waste storage bins for Piano Row Alley.

Work with Dining Services and Custodial staff to increase bin awareness and waste management knowledge.

Student Residence Hall Management:

Coordinate and enlarge signage in waste rooms, including stream signage and bag signage. Develop consistency in bin color and size in waste rooms. In private spaces, provide one blue 23-gallon recycling bin and one black or grey 23-gallon trash bin for every suite, triple or double. Provide one blue 13-5/8-quart recycling bin and one black or grey 13-5/8-quart trash bin for all singles.

Remove grey composite dual and single stream bins from all lobbies, hallways, common rooms and kitchens. provide one blue 23-gallon recycling bin and one black or grey 23-gallon trash bin for every elevator lobby, common room and kitchen.

Academic Space Management:

Coordinate signage throughout campus. Remove classroom trash and recycling bins and create waste hubs in hallways using one blue 23-gallon recycling bin and one black or grey 23-gallon trash bin with corresponding signage. Remove all grey composite dual and single stream bins and keep built-in and elevator lobby bins.

Administrative Space Management:

Increase the number of offices that participate in bin consolidation and increase the recycling pick up for all offices to at least twice per week. Require all offices with K-cup machines that spend College funds on K-cups to participate in K-cup recycling.

Dining Space Management:

All food preparation areas should have one 23-gallon recycling and one 23-gallon trash bin per separate area (i.e. per station in the Dining Hall and per kitchen in Cafes), as well as small 5 gallon bucks for compost collection. The Dining Hall should have larger centralized recycling and compost bins for more convenient disposal than Allen’s Alley.

The dining services team should break down all cardboard boxes and dispose of them in the cardboard compactor using a clear and easily navigable walking route in Allen’s Alley.


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

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

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:

INCLUSIVE EXCELLENCE ACTION PLAN:
The Office of Diversity & Inclusion has created an Inclusive Excellence (IE) Action Plan to help departments assess current strengths and opportunities for growth in key areas of Inclusive Excellence and campus climate, and then set goals for the academic year. For 2015-16 the goals will be based on the results of Emerson360: Community Climate Survey. This year’s new action plan is attached below. Action planning and goal setting can be completed in many ways, such as office retreats, staff meetings, leadership team discussions, or establishing a task force within the department, using the Emerson360 results for each department to guide your planning.

The action planning process includes these steps:

1. Review the survey results for your department and Emerson College (results are only available if 5 or more people within a department or unit took the survey. If less than five responded their results are rolled up into your overall department results).
2. Hold department meetings with all staff and faculty to review the results and develop action plans with specific goals and outcomes to reinforce high positive results and improve low positive results. Include as many department members as possible in establishing goals. Action planning worksheets are provided in this packet. The Office of Diversity & Inclusion (ODI) is available to facilitate these meetings.
3. Submit action plans and goals to department head and ODI for review and approval by August 30, 2018.
4. Communicate finalized action plans throughout your department.
5. Monitor and communicate goal progress to your department and ODI throughout the academic year.
http://www.emerson.edu/sites/default/files/Files/Emerson360%20Department%20Action%20Plan.pdf


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:

The Five Strategies address investment and finance objectives, with one tenet being Financial Strength.

"Our ability to implement all of the plans above is contingent on our financial health, and our ability to plan our work in a realistic and sustainable way. We are committed to:

Responsible use of resources (human, financial, and physical facilities);
Increasing financial resources through revenue-generating activities and enhanced fund-raising;
Attracting and retaining faculty and staff.
Developing long-term plans for the renewal and replacement of our physical plant and technology infrastructure.
We are achieving these goals by balancing our annual and multi-year budgets, creating faculty and staff professional development programs, studying the compensation plans for faculty and staff, and engaging in ongoing planning—and implementation of plans for—the renewal and replacement of our buildings and technology."


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:

The Five Strategies' tenet of Academic Excellence includes the relevance of student, staff and faculty wellbeing and work.

"The first of our strategic goals is academic excellence, and it is a goal that is central to all of our work. At Emerson, academic excellence is rooted in a college culture that supports the development of a diverse, creative, and intellectual community, providing the resources that faculty need in order to do their work well and to ensure that students learn at the highest possible level.

One set of goals focuses on the composition of and support for the faculty. We will hire 40 new full-time faculty members from 2013-2018, and continue to strengthen support for all faculty across the college through faculty development, internal grants, support for external grants, teaching support, and other means.
Another set of goals focuses on curriculum development, and fostering and supporting research and creative work. Actions to realize these goals include:
A major effort to re-imagine teaching and learning in the communications disciplines at Emerson;
A plan for better integrating the liberal arts with arts and communications fields;
A plan to develop multi-disciplinary Centers for research and creative expression across the disciplines that we support.
Additional work will focus on defining the optimal administrative structure to support the undergraduate and graduate experience at all of our campus sites."


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address other areas (e.g. arts and culture or technology)?:
No

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

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)? :
No

The formal statement in support of sustainability:
---

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) Yes

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

Emerson signed the ACUPCC Carbon Commitment in 2009 and the Climate Commitment in 2016.
Emerson helped draft the initial higher education Paris Accord support statement "We are Still In" and signed onto the published statement.
Emerson signed onto the Our Climate Higher Education Carbon Pricing endorsement letter, in support of carbon pricing legislation at the state and national levels.


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

We Are Still In: https://www.wearestillin.com/colleges-universities
Our Climate Carbon Pricing: http://www.ourclimate.us/higher_ed_initiative

Additional attachment: draft Waste Management Action Plan

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.