Smith supports a range of initiatives focused on countering and mitigating the effects of climate change, the most important, perhaps, being its commitment to being climate-neutral by 2030. Sustainability is an integral part of the college’s strategic plan, and the college has several working-groups dedicated to moving its carbon-neutrality and sustainability goals forward.
Proxy Carbon Price Strategy
Smith College is also involved in The Carbon Pricing in Higher Education Working Group, which brings together stakeholders from the higher education sector and experts in carbon pricing policy. It is led by Yale University, Second Nature and Swarthmore College and supported by the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, with partnership from Smith College, Arizona State University, University of British Columbia, University College London and George Washington University. The role of the working group is to support colleges and universities that wish to model carbon pricing on campus, and to explore the role of U.S. higher education in advancing carbon pricing on a state, regional or federal level.
The working group has developed tools and resources that higher education institutions can use to model internal carbon prices. By modeling carbon prices, campuses create a community of practice that may inform potential policy and educate students on the benefits and challenges of pricing carbon. Smith students and faculty have developed several resources for this toolkit.
“In an economist’s perfect world, everyone would have to pay for their carbon pollution—thus encouraging everyone to take steps to reduce emissions. We don’t yet live in that world, but Smith can lead by ensuring that we account for climate change when we make important decisions.”—Alex Barron, Assistant Professor of Environmental Science and Policy, SGCC Member
Committee on Sustainability
The Committee on Sustainability is concerned with the best long-term use of finite natural resources and the college's impact on the local, regional and global environment. It identifies, implements and evaluates approaches for increasing Smith's commitment to sustainability in all areas of the campus, including (but not limited to) construction, transportation, materials and energy use, waste management, purchasing, investment and the campus curriculum. It will also monitor the college’s progress toward meeting the recommendations from the Study Group on Climate Change and report annually to the community.
Committee on Sustainability Members
Alexander Barron, Assistant Professor, Environmental Science & Policy
Julia Franchi Scarselli ’18
Larissa Holland ’20
Timothy Johnson, Director, Smith College Botanic Garden
Denise McKahn, Associate Professor, Engineering
Roger Mosier, Associate Vice President, Facilities
Bob Newton, ex officio as Director of CEEDS
Amy Rhodes, Professor, Geosciences
Ilana Schiller-Weiss ’18
Rachel Twerdowsky ’20
Dano Weisbord, Director of Sustainability and Campus Planning
Study Group on Climate Change
In the fall of 2015, President McCartney announced the formation of the Study Group on Climate Change (SGCC), a group made up of staff, faculty, trustees, alumnae and students. President McCartney tasked the SGCC with facilitating a campus-wide examination of how Smith, as an educational institution and a residential college, could most effectively respond to the challenge of global climate change. Charged with more than just the creation of a climate action plan, the SGCC considered climate adaptation and mitigation, curriculum and co-curriculum integration, faculty and research, advocacy, investment and community engagement. Few issues at Smith College have been given the kind of dedicated time and resources that sustainability and climate change have, through the work of the SGCC. The study group spent a year gathering input from hundreds of students, faculty, staff and trustees, consulting with experts and conducting research to develop a series of recommendations that best allows Smith to contribute to climate solutions, locally and globally.
By implementing these comprehensive recommendations, the college will integrate climate action and sustainability across all aspects of the college—education, research, operations, financial investments and engagement of the community.
Study Group Members
- Michael Howard, Vice President for Finance and Administration, co-chair
- Amy Rhodes, Associate Professor of Geosciences, co-chair
- Eleanor Adachi ’17
- Neelum Amin ’86, Smith College Board of Trustees
- Alexander Barron, Assistant Professor of Environmental Science & Policy
- Carrie Dohan Buchman ’78, Alumnae Association of Smith College Board of Directors
- Deanna Dixon, Associate Director of Multicultural Recruitment
- Raven Fowlkes-Witten ’17
- Marcia MacHarg ’70, Smith College Board of Trustees
- Roger Mosier, Associate Vice President for Facilities
- Bob Newton, Director, Professor of Geosciences and Director of the Center for the Environment, Ecological Design and Sustainability
- Jasmine Pacheco-Ramos ’19
- Vis Taraz, Assistant Professor of Economics (on sabbatical fall 2016)
- Beverly Daniel Tatum, Smith College Board of Trustees
- Dano Weisbord, Director of Campus Sustainability and Space Planning
- Gregory White, Professor of Government
Planning and reporting is central to Smith’s climate action goals. Reporting is completed for both the Smith community and external bodies, such as the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).
This report, completed as part of the work of the Study Group on Climate Change, outlines various ways that the college can decarbonize how it heats, cools and lights its buildings, all toward meeting its goal of being climate-neutral by 2030.
This is an update of the college’s Sustainability & Climate Action Management Plan (see below). It details the college’s progress on energy efficiency, water conservation, waste diversion, and local food, as well as as academic and co-curricular offerings.
This document was written soon after the founding of the Campus Sustainability Office and coincided with former President Carol Christ’s signing of the Carbon Commitment. It outlines the sources of Smith’s carbon footprint and created the first look at how to reach 2030 carbon neutrality goals.
AASHE Gold Rating
Smith earned a gold rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) for its overall sustainability performance. The prestigious ranking is based on such measures as curriculum, research, operations, public engagement and leadership. Smith was recognized for its reduced energy consumption in campus buildings, the formation of a committee on investor responsibility, and the proportion of faculty members (now 28 percent) engaged in research on sustainability.