Sunday, December 4, 2016

Progress on the 2014 BSOS Sustainability Plan

In 2014, the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences (BSOS) published the BSOS Sustainability Plan in an effort to “advance campus sustainability and complement the University’s Climate Action Plan” from 2009. The BSOS plan outlines ten main objectives and ten metrics to measure progress. This semester, the BSOS Sustainability Task Force decided to evaluate the metrics to see if the College is on track to meet its goals. Identifying lagging metrics would help the Sustainability Task Force to choose future projects so that our projects more optimally meet the goals and needs of the College. The end goal of the metrics evaluation is to publish a report of our findings that will offer analysis and recommendations, such as what specific goals to set for each metric and how often the metrics should be reevaluated.
BSOS Sustainability Plan
The BSOS Sustainability Plan includes 10 metrics of progress that the STF has been working to evaluate this semester.

This semester, we were able to completely evaluate four of the metrics and begin the process of evaluating the other eight. Of those four, first there was the “Number of BSOS offices with GO certification at each level”, with a goal of having all BSOS offices bronze certified by January 2016. The Green Office Program “supports and promotes offices that are taking steps toward reducing their environmental footprint” through a series of checklists and tools that guide offices through three levels of certification. In 2014, there were no BSOS offices participating. Currently, 12 BSOS offices are participating and 8 are certified Green Offices. Although this does not meet the January 2016 goal, it is still great progress.

One of the plan's metrics involves the number of BSOS offices participating in the Green Office Program.

The second metric was: “Number of faculty, instructors, and lecturers who have participated in Chesapeake Project”. The Chesapeake Bay Project is “a two-day program run by the Office of Sustainability where faculty from various disciplines explore ways to integrate sustainability into their existing courses”. The goal for December 2016 was to at least one faculty member per department participate. Since 2010, 15 faculty members have participated, but, in order to meet this goal, faculty from African-American Studies, Hearing and Speech Sciences, and Sociology need to participate.

The third metric was: “Number of BSOS courses on the Sustainability Minor approved list”. There was no goal for this metric, but in 2014, there were 22 BSOS courses available for the Sustainability Minor. However, in 2016, there are still only 22 courses, although the courses have shifted due to a decrease in Geographical Sciences courses and increase in Anthropology courses offered for the minor.

Finally, the fourth metric we were able to evaluate was: “Energy and water consumption by building in BSOS”. We used the University of Maryland, College Park Utility Dashboard to collect this data. We focused on Tydings, Taliaferro, Woods, LeFrak, Bio/Psych, and Art/Soc, with a special emphasis on Tydings and LeFrak, due to the high volume of BSOS departments located in those buildings. Overall, these buildings are on a downwards trajectory regarding electricity (except for Art/Soc). It will take additional efforts to analyze how this fits in with the University’s energy usage goals.

An important component of the Sustainability Plan’s metrics were commuting habits and sustainability-related events held by the College. The task force plans on administering a commuting survey to all BSOS faculty and staff next semester to determine how many are carpooling, using public transportation, or biking to work, and if they aren’t, what prevents them from doing so. We aim to have the final report released mid-Spring 2017, so keep an eye on the BSOS Sustainability Task Force’s blog!

Author: Jane Lyons