New Sustainability Manager will drive coming climate work

Daniel Greenman, News Editor

With Union’s many developing sustainability goals, a Sustainability Manager will be hired to replace the currently empty Sustainability Coordinator position. The Manager will supervise Union’s sustainability efforts and execution of its Climate Action Plan, and will join a team of six managers in Facilities Services who report to Marc Donovan, Director of Facilities and Campus Development.

In the next two years, Donovan hopes the Manager will be able to handle many projects with improvement over the previous Sustainability Coordinator positions. 

“We’ve had three different Coordinators that have come along since I’ve started at the college, and they’ve all done a tremendous job. But, for us, one of the things that we felt the recalibration was needed [for] was simply the level of management, the level of the position. We wanted to get it elevated so that there is more capacity for the more challenging topics that we’re up against. The college is going to have a lot of challenges in the future with climate change and it’s going to be very important to the college to have a leader in a high-level position in Facilities to be able to combat and manage those challenges.”

One of the main goals is the Climate Action Plan, which includes proposals for improving campus sustainability efforts and lowering carbon emissions. According to Donovan, the plan “hasn’t been really touched since the pandemic” and “really needs to be addressed and updated”.

The new Manager will “be responsible for [the Plan] day one” in “a massive undertaking for them.” Donovan also says Union “has put forth a lot of money to hire a consultant to help us along with the Climate Action planning process, and the Sustainability Manager position will be integral in building that up [and] implementing it.” 

Implementing the plan will be a “really long process,” and “once we’re done with the plan” the Manager will be key 

to answering questions like “How do we keep improving the plan?” and “How do we keep bettering ourselves?” 

According to Donovan, “[t]here will be announcements forthcoming for the kickoff of the Climate Action Planning process” including “a very active student engagement process led by our consultant and working directly with all constituents on our campus.”

Regarding other campus sustainability efforts, “Action item one,” according to Donovan, “is getting down and dirty with our programming that we have on campus with the student body” and to “reestablish a very strong network of work study/interns to support the campus.” 

“Without a Sustainability Coordinator in place [and] with everything we have going on on campus,” says Donovan, “that has downshifted a little bit right now[…] but our goal is to reestablish[…] several students within our army of sustainability over here.” 

According to Donovan, “[w]hen the Sustainability Manager is hired, we will ramp back up and have an internship or two for our students to engage with the department and campus in a meaningful way.” Examples include aiding sustainability efforts at events, strategic initiative assistance, engaging with the climate action plan [and] assisting with future planning of the campus and sustainability.”

Carbon and energy accounting is another ongoing Facilities project. “We are doing a lot of energy work. I do a lot of that work myself.  [The Manager] would take over a lot of the energy reporting.” 

According to Donovan, Union has “for a long time” been annually tracking its carbon consumption. Currently, “using a consultant named Sightlines,” Union has tracked how much carbon it produces, including energy, offsets, composting, cultural sustainability events, how much electricity the school purchases and generates, how much natural gas Union uses, and air travel for campus programs. When hired, the Manager will “get right into” Union’s next carbon consumption report.

Donovan says that “as good applicants come in, once we get a good pool we’ll start the interview process. That could be anywhere from a month to two months[…] the idea with that is to get someone on board.” Donovan acknowledges that a hire might “take a few months to get on board, but our goal is to get it as fast as possible once we have viable candidates and we’re ready to go.” 

“Nobody jumps right in,” says Donovan: “It takes a bit of a learning curve to learn our systems, to learn our culture, to learn what we’re doing well [and] to learn what we’re not doing well. It’s going to take some time, but at the end of the day, our plan is to hire a very dynamic person that can get right into it and make a real change.”