FLC Sustainability Action Plan Audit

Did you know that Fort Lewis College has a Sustainability Action Plan?

It is a 5-year plan designed to make this campus more sustainable. A quick overview of the plan: it is divided into six sections: Stewardship, Consumption, Climate, Education and Engagement, Service to Region, and Coordination and Support. Under each section are goals and objectives, and within each objective are recommended actions that can be taken to help work towards the goals and objectives. Each of the actions has a responsible party or parties – departments on campus – listed beside them.

Auditing the Plan

I am on the Sustainability Team here at the Environmental Center.  Last semester my teammate, Drew Stuntz, and I completed an audit of the plan. For the audit, we went to the different departments listed as responsible parties in the plan and talked to them about the SAP, and how much progress they had made regarding it. We found that many of the departments had heard of the SAP, but did not know that they were listed as a responsible party for it. However, most of the departments were very supportive of the plan, and some had even taken the initiative to start sustainable practices in their offices, even ones who did not know much about the plan. It was encouraging to see the amount of support for the plan!

What did we find out?

We took the information gathered from our meetings with the responsible parties and assessed the progress of the plan, looking at which goals and objectives were being met and which needed to be worked on.

There are 225 actions identified in the plan, and only 32 percent have been completed. It is a five-year plan, and we are in the third year, so this percentage is not good news. The weakest sections in the plan are Climate and Stewardship, with only 4 percent of the actions having been completed in the latter!

Although seeing these disappointments, our team is still extremely optimistic about support shown for the plan once people actually knew that they were identified as a responsible party in it. This semester, our team is planning to work towards the goals in the plan within the EC. We want to help improve the sections of the plan that need improvement, as well as uphold the stronger sections.

Wait… What is sustainability?

A major flaw we found in the plan is that it does not even define sustainability! To help fix this problem, the Sustainability Team in the EC is collaborating with the EC Board of Directors to plan a Sustainability Summit where students, staff, and faculty can have input into defining what sustainability is for this school. We believe this will help raise awareness about the Sustainability Action Plan, as well as bring together with the same goals and interests together to create a working definition of sustainability for Fort Lewis College.

~ Jessica Smyke

Zach Conde: A Look at the NEW EC Intern and His Projects

My name is Zach Conde and I am doing an internship at the Environmental Center. I have joined the Zero Waste team, and I am working on auditing the Sustainability Action Plan. I started my internship at the beginning of the semester and I have jumped into many great projects and I am already having a blast doing them.

First of all I would like to comment on what a great group of people that are involved in all aspects of the EC. They have welcomed me with open arms and have been awesome in helping me transition to a new work environment. From the time Rebecca Schild told me I could do my internship at the EC until now, everyone has been very friendly and nice. So a big thanks to all my coworkers!

The Zero Waste team that I have joined is a group with many great ideas and we have some really cool projects going on. Our “Conservation Campaign” has multiple themes which change every month.

We have started out with “reuse” for the month of February. For this we have focused on trying make the campus community aware of how many things can and should be reused instead of just being thrown away. For this you may have seen our “free Store” which has been in and around the student union building every Thursday. Here students can drop off items to the EC, and they are showcased and given away for free on Thursdays to anyone who wants them. We also had a reusable bag decoration table set up in the student union building on Thursday February 17th, where we had free reusable bags for students to decorate and use for many years to come. We also are hosting a “get crafty” competition which invites students to send a picture of themselves and their reused item via email to ec_waste@fortlewis.edu. These pictures are due by Friday February 25th 2011, and we will be holding a table in or outside the student union building on Monday February 28th to have people vote for who they think has the most useful, most creative and most reused material. The winners will be awarded with gift certificates to local businesses. If you haven’t submitted anything yet, do so immediately because YOU could be a winner!

For the month of March we plan to have the theme of “recycle”. For this we will be focusing on making the campus community more aware of the impacts they can have on the planet by recycling or not. We will be having tables set up once a week with demonstrations on how to recycle properly. We will also be providing each residence hall with new recycle bins, and allow people from each hall decorate their bins as they see fit.

The month of April will be dedicated to “reduce”. Here we will be focusing on trying to make the campus community have a smaller impact on the environment by reducing the amount of consumption. We will be showing the movie “Tapped” to make people more aware of the impacts of bottled water. We will also be promoting reusable water bottles instead of single use plastic water bottles.

I am also working individually on auditing the Sustainability Action Plan. This is a Plan that has a goal to make Fort Lewis a more sustainable campus. It is a very comprehensive plan with many small goals within the big goals that have been set. Improving our sustainable performance, making the community more educated and engaged on becoming more sustainable, providing service, research and partnerships to the entire region, and getting coordination and support from the community are the main goals to the plan.

Stewardship is a goal within performance which strives to decrease and maximize our water use on campus, maximize our land use on campus, and make the surrounding environment as healthy as possible. Another goal within performance is consumption which strives to reduce our purchasing consumption, reduce our waste stream, and increase our recycling rates. The last big goal within performance is climate. This goal is to build more sustainable buildings, decrease our overall energy on campus, and reduce our impacts to the earth from transportation.

Education and Engagement is a big goal for the SAP. This goal specifically focuses on getting the community educated, trained and have there be a big public involvement with the goals for the plan. This goal is very important to the entire plan. We need the involvement of not only the Fort Lewis community, but also the entire community of La Plata County in order to gain the support we need to achieve all the goals.

All of these goals are imperative to the completion of the SAP. The plan is set to be complete by 2015 and was started in 2010. The reason for my auditing of the plan is to see that everything is being done that possibly can be done at this time. There are responsibilities that each department is involved with achieving these goals. Keeping each department on track is the focus of my audit and will provide future students with a stepping stone to use the next time the plan needs to be audited.

Working at the EC has been a great experience so far. The people that work there and the projects that we are taking on are awesome! Keep your ears and eyes open for these people and projects as the semester continues in order to recognize and get involved with the fun we are having!