Pratt President Thomas F. Schutte has submitted an official climate action plan to the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), which documents Pratt’s commitment to reducing its campus greenhouse gas emissions and outlines a series of academic initiatives designed to educate faculty, students, and the local community on issues related to sustainability. Participating institutions were encouraged to submit plans by mid-September.
“Pratt Institute has established itself as leader in sustainable practice and education among colleges of art and design nationwide,” said Schutte. “We are committed to integrating sustainability into both campus facilities management and into our educational curriculum so that all students who graduate from Pratt fully understand sustainability and their role as socially and environmentally responsible citizens,” he added.
In 2007, Schutte became one of the first signatories of the ACUPCC and that same year accepted Mayor Bloomberg’s 30/10 Challenge to reduce greenhouse gases by 30 percent by 2017, which is the central goal of the Institute’s climate action plan. Other major plans outlined in the document include the recent creation of a Center for Sustainable Design Studies and Research, the development of an all-institute sustainability minor at Pratt, utilizing the Pratt campus as a model for sustainable living, and working with local community groups to promote energy conservation and other sustainable living practices.
To achieve the goals of the plan, Pratt created a unique model among colleges of art and design nationwide by filling two full-time sustainability positions – one administrative director in charge of campus facilities and one academic director in charge of educational, research, and enterprise initiatives.
Tony Gelber, administrative director of sustainability at Pratt, works to ensure that the campus facilities operate as efficiently as possible. To meet the goals of Pratt’s plan, Gelber has inventoried greenhouse gases for the past three years and is overseeing the development and implementation of a campus-wide energy and greenhouse gas reduction project. Pratt is pursuing five fundamental greenhouse gas mitigation strategies to achieve its goal of reducing emissions 30 percent by 2017. They include implementing a sustainability campaign that promotes energy-conscious daily living, adopting Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver-certified low energy use guidelines for new construction and major renovations, retrofitting all existing buildings to meet the reduced greenhouse gas objectives, developing renewable energy projects on campus, and purchasing green electricity and carbon credits.
Debera Johnson, academic director of sustainability, oversees and coordinates Pratt’s educational, research, and enterprise programs as head of the Institute’s Center for Sustainable Design Studies and Research (CSDS). One CSDS initiative includes “Living Lab” projects, which link Pratt’s design students to campus improvement projects that reduce the carbon footprint of the Institute.
CSDS uses graduate interns to conduct research on materials and in-depth case studies of faculty projects. CSDS also includes the Pratt Design Incubator for Sustainable Innovation (http://incubator.pratt.edu/), a program to support entrepreneurial talents of Pratt designers, artists, and architects by providing them with the resources necessary to launch businesses. Seven successful businesses have been launched since 2002 and the incubator currently supports 6 start-up businesses.
Pratt has also reached out to other art and design schools throughout North America to create a working group to integrate sustainability into the classroom. “It’s time to collaborate,” said Johnson. “There’s no time for schools to compete on global warming and no one school has the resources to do this alone. We need to work together and share our ideas.”
As a signatory of the ACUPCC, Pratt receives support and resources designed to help the school achieve the outlined climate objectives and has access to a supportive network of peer institutions that share insights into best practices. Six hundred fifty college and university presidents have joined the ACUPCC, a comprehensive climate change initiative through which schools are committing to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions on their campuses, dedicating research and programs to the development of climate change solutions, and training their students to address the climate crisis upon graduation.
“I congratulate Pratt Institute for contributing to this first sector-wide effort at creating climate action plans,” said Toni Nelson, Program Director of the ACUPCC. “The collective impact of schools throughout the nation fighting climate change is tremendous,” she added.
Launched in 2007, the ACUPCC is a network of 650 signatory schools, representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This high-visibility effort to address global warming garners institutional commitments to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate the research and educational efforts of higher education to equip society to re-stabilize the earth’s climate. For more information, visit www.presidentsclimatecommitment.org.
To learn more about Pratt’s academic initiatives related to the Institute’s climate action plan, please visit the Center for Sustainable Design Studies and Research website at http://csds.pratt.edu/.