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Beyond Earth Day, Campus Sustainability Manager Steers Emerson’s Environmental Impact

Woman stands on grass in front of lake
Jennifer Lamy, Campus Sustainability Manager.

As the campus sustainability manager for Emerson’s Boston campus, Jennifer Lamy is focused on coordinating the College’s efforts to be carbon neutral by 2030, and working to ensure Emerson is resilient to the impacts of climate change.

“It’s thinking about where we’re sourcing our energy from, waste diversion, and campus operations,” said Lamy, who started her position in January. “It’s also empowering students, faculty, and staff to really implement sustainability into their daily lives to make sure we have full buy-in from the campus community to reach those goals.”

Read: Make Every Day Earth Day at Work (People @ Emerson)

In 2007, former Emerson College President Jackie Liebergott joined hundreds of educational institutions in The Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitment. The Commitment includes having a systems approach to reach carbon neutrality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and climate resiliency. Former President Lee Pelton recommitted the College in 2016.  

Lamy is leading an inventory of Emerson’s sustainability, and an annual report of the campus’ sustainability efforts. That research will lead to a sustainability action plan for the College.

“One of the most immediate areas for improvement is our waste diversion rates to keep [recyclable and compostable items] from going to the landfill,” said Lamy. “We’re under 20 percent waste diversion. Best practice is 80 percent, and a lot of higher education institutions [reach that goal].”

Woman stands in front of a large pine tree in Joshua Tree
Jennifer Lamy at Joshua Tree National Park in California.

Lamy said speaking with students during orientation to encourage them to incorporate sustainability into their lives is a great way to educate them from their first day on campus. Eating a plant-based diet, using public transportation, and being aware of the amount of waste we produce and where we place it, are ways to include sustainable practices in our personal lives.

Even something as simple as students standing near the compost and recycling bins and explaining what goes where for a few days can be very helpful to encourage sustainability.

“Thinking about how we are an arts- and communications-focused community, we can make sure we really use our incredible skills honed here to get that message across the broader community,” said Lamy. “Boston is unique because we also have research … institutions on the cutting edge of technology. What really excites me is having a broader effect on the world by getting students engaged in issues and incorporating content into the work they do in their careers.”

Lamy is working on numerous intermediary projects, including supporting student-led class or organizational projects, such as working with the Emerson Green Collective to recycle masks.

Lamy is working on several initiatives with students in the marketing class, Topics in Marketing Communication: Motivating Pro-Environmental Strategies for Saving the World. One project is to create consistency in labeling bins, as best practices research shows that recycling is, in part, determined by bins being the same throughout the campus. Other projects include climate action planning, and a proposal for a green roof.

And on Earth Day, Friday, April 22, Emerson Green Collective is hosting several events:

  • 11:00 am-3:00 pm: Crafts and Plant Swap, Boylston Alley tables
  • 12:00-5:00 pm: Swap & Shop in the SPC, Little Building
  • 1:00-4 :00 pm: Upcycle Clothes in the Owens Multipurpose Room, 172 Tremont

Lamy added that while composting, eating less meat, and bicycling are essential, educating yourself about political candidates is also very important. To achieve a sustainable future, political candidates are needed at the local, state, and federal levels.

“The biggest thing we can do as individuals is think about ourselves as policy advocates and members of the electorate,” said Lamy. “It’s really important to stay engaged on the policy level.”

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