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Climate on Campus: Emmanuel’s Commitment to Sustainability Post-Paris Accord

In June 2017, President Trump announced his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord. The Accord intended to bind the world community into collectively combating climate change-inducing behaviors. However, the departure of the Earth’s second-largest polluter was a major blow to these concerted efforts.

In response to this decision, Emmanuel College took action to maintain climate-friendly behavior. In addition to numerous hospitals and colleges in the Fenway/Longwood area, President Sister Janet Eisner committed the College to an agreement to implement and maintain sustainable practices.

Emmanuel plans to uphold their commitment through on-campus initiatives, the school’s Sustainability Committee, as well as building upgrades and a new, sustainably-constructed dorm hall.

Greener on This Side

At Emmanuel College, green isn’t just the color of our grassy quad and tree-lined campus. Green is our commitment to the environment and to the students we educate, helping to ensure that we make the world a little bit better each day.

In recent years, Emmanuel implemented sustainability initiatives across campus in order to uphold their agreement.

Emmanuel introduced comprehensive single-stream recycling in 2014, then composting in the Marian Hall Dining Room the following year. In the 2015-2016 academic year alone, Emmanuel diverted 83,740 pounds of food waste, liquid, and napkins from landfills.

Emmanuel also promotes sustainability through EC Print services. In its first year, EC Print saved over 800,000 sheets of paper and reduced the College’s paper consumption by over 38%. In addition, Emmanuel partnered with Toshiba and Habitat for Humanity to recycle all toner cartridge. Instead of being disposed of, cartridge waste is used to build new homes and install benches in parks around the US.

Last year, Emmanuel announced the Cardinal Cushing Library’s switch to a Library Learning Commons. In this process, Emmanuel hopes to retrograde the library to more energy-efficient systems. New locally-sourced tables and environmentally-friendly carpeting are already ushering in a more sustainable era for the library.

Other buildings on campus have been retrograded as well. Installations such as new dorm hall bathrooms and sensor lighting systems recapture energy for reuse. In 2015 alone, the College upgraded approximately 2,000 lighting fixtures across campus to the latest LED technology, reducing annual energy usage by 60%.

Emmanuel’s Treasurer Sister Anne Donovan stated, “Certainly the college is totally committed to sustainability and to building and to make sure that we don’t participate in any way that tears down the earth. Whenever we have the opportunity to tear down and replace an inefficient system, we always make sure that those things are done with the environment in mind.”

Student-Led Commitment to Sustainability

Emmanuel College’s commitment to sustainable practices is due in large part to the school’s Sustainability Committee. Comprised primarily of students, with faculty leadership from Dr. Adam Silver, the Committee seeks to evaluate and increase the sustainable impact of existing programs across campus.

Currently, the Committee is considering the possibility of a reuse room and food pantry on campus, similar to MassArt’s ReStore, in order to promote recycling and reduce waste. The room would be a designated space where students could donate nonperishable food items, school supplies, clothes, and books for secondhand use.

The Sustainability Committee played an integral role in ensuring a sustainably constructed new dorm hall. They communicated with the construction team regarding the plans for environmentally-friendly materials and sustainable energy systems.

The Committee will also take on the initiative to design the proposal for maintaining the sustainable standards in the new dorm hall post-construction. With the help of the Facilities Department, they hope to create a proposal outlining the strategies student occupants can undertake in order to be more environmentally friendly.

For any questions or to get involved, contact

A Sustainable Centennial

For the newest dorm hall, Emmanuel is committed to building a green and energy efficient building. The new hall’s sustainability status is based on the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. The new dorm hall is a LEED-certified project, and Emmanuel hopes for gold league status upon completion.

In order to be certified gold, Emmanuel is locally resourcing materials for construction. All materials have been sourced from under 500 miles away. Emmanuel shipped materials such as granite and wood from northern New England and Canada, even though they are cheaper to source from China.

Sr. Donovan said that Emmanuel considered materials that will not only hold up, but that will also be environmentally friendly. The new dorm hall marks the school’s centennial, so it is important that Emmanuel not cut corners in construction.

“We’ve been very, very careful,” said Donovan.

Photo taken from EC New Residence Hall blog.

From design to on-going construction, the project conforms to all environmental codes. Erosion and sedimentation control prevent construction debris from dirtying nearby rivers. The project also conforms strictly to codes for air pollution prevention.

Energy efficiency is also central to the project’s design. Once built, each dorm hall suite unit will feature Energy Star appliances, energy efficient windows, water saving plumbing fixtures, and energy saving heating and cooling systems. The residence hall will also provide storage for 104 bikes inside the parking garage. Preferred parking will also be available for low-emitting and fuel-efficient vehicles.

The new building will not be powered by renewable energy directly. Emmanuel considered solar and wind power, but there is neither enough roof space nor turbulent air to make either feasible. However, Patricia Tower, Associate Treasurer at Emmanuel College, indicated to the Sustainability Committee that the College may sign a 2-year contract for sourcing 100% renewable energy.

“We’re building this building for the future, knowing certainly that climate change and sustainability are incredibly important for our world and for our tomorrow,” said Donovan.

Boston Goes Green

Emmanuel’s commitment to sustainability is part of a larger movement in Boston post-Paris Accord. Home to half the world’s population, cities contribute to two-thirds of energy use and emissions worldwide. Urban centers maintain an important role in combating climate change. Massachusetts is the 5th most energy-efficient state in the United States, and its largest city is dedicated to sustainable practices.

Mayor Marty Walsh’s Climate Ready Boston set Boston’s preparedness agenda by developing adaptation strategies to enable Boston to thrive in the face of climate change. It presents a thorough analysis of Boston’s climate risks and describes the initiatives the city should undertake to manage them.

Similarly, Greenovate Boston is the city’s initiative to involve citizens in the process of eliminating the climate change-inducing pollution.

In 2018, Boston will host an international climate summit to address emissions and warming on a global scale. Officials from cities around the world will discuss how to combat global warming on a local level.

These plans and policies are essential to combating climate change post-Paris Accord. The United States is no longer committed to this on the national level, so the responsibility for action falls to the local level.

Thankfully, Boston, and by extension Emmanuel College, are making strides to maintain healthy, innovative, and climate-friendly behavior. The future looks less bleak (and hopefully less warm) where local action inspires a sustainable future.

Emery Veilleux ’20 is the Assistant Managing Editor and a Staff Writer for the Hub. She can be contacted at and on Twitter @xuellievyreme.

Posted by on December 5, 2017. Filed under Around Boston,Around Campus. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.