In March of 2012, undergraduate students presented a proposal to the Brown University Community Council encouraging the University to develop a Sustainability Strategic Plan. The Sustainability Strategic Planning and Advisory Committee (SSPAC) was convened by the Provost’s office in the Fall of 2012. The group was charged with creating a draft proposal, for consideration by the Provost and the President, for a Sustainability Strategic Plan for Brown University. This plan was built on past successes by expanding the scope of current sustainability efforts and setting new goals regarding resource management, academic integration, community coordination, and community outreach. The committee worked to identify and set practical goals in each of these areas. The committee was responsible for proposing an accountability mechanism to increase the likelihood that these new goals will be reached. The successful Sustainability Strategic Plan provided a framework for the evaluation and implementation of individual projects that aimed to decrease the University’s environmental impacts, promote community engagement, and create a Living Laboratory on campus to inspire increased innovation and excellence at Brown.

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In November 2013, the Office of Sustainable Energy and Environmental Initiatives (E&E) convened four SSPAC working groups: Food, Energy & Water, Transportation, and Waste & Recycling. The Food working group, led by Peter Rossi, Director of Dining Services, includes representatives from Facilities Management, Environmental Studies faculty, Campus Life & Student Services, and the undergraduate student body. The Waste & Recycling working group, led by Jessica Berry, Sustainability Manager – E&E Office, includes representatives from University Event and Conference Services, Environmental Health & Safety, Purchasing, and the undergraduate student body. The Transportation working group, led by Beth Gentry, Assistant Vice President, Business & Financial Services, includes representatives from the Anthropology faculty, Environmental Studies faculty, Purchasing, the City of Providence, Swearer Center for Public Service, and the Bikes@Brown student organization. The Energy & Water working group, led by Chris Powell, Assistant Vice President, Sustainable Energy and Environmental Initiatives, includes representatives from University Architects Office, Design and Construction, BioMed Facilities Planning & Operations, the School of Engineering, Computing & Information Services, and the undergraduate student body.


Members of each working group were carefully selected based on their experience in the group’s specific focus area. Teams convene regularly for facilitated meetings with specific, measured outcomes. In Phase I, each working group uses a framework of six criteria—academic integration, community inclusion, personal impact, metrics, communication, and structure and accountability—to develop high-level goals and recommend projects based on research into best practices.  Phase II recommends project goals and identifies the resources, support, and direction needed.

Supported projects include: bringing composting to six main dining facilities; stormwater assessment and planning; and two dedicated transportation internships, and an interactive website to focus on increasing use of alternative transportation. The SSPAC working groups continue to look at developing projects to support the mission. In the spring of 2016 SSPAC partnered with the School of Public Health. SSPAC Environment, Health, and Wellness working group will work throughout FY 2017 to establish areas for collaboration between researchers, students, and staff to identify best practices related to environmental health.