volume 39, number 3
Temple UniversityFaculty Herald
The Office of Sustainability: Towards a Greener Temple
Sandra McDade, Director of the Office of Sustainability

Sandra McDade,
Director of the Office of Sustainability

The Herald asked Sandra McDade, director of the Office of Sustainability, to describe the establishment and mission of the Office, which is located in Mitten Hall.


In the spring of 2007 Temple University’s President, Dr. Ann Weaver Hart, established a Sustainability Task Force, composed of faculty, students and staff, who were charged with examining best practices in large, urban universities and making recommendations on actions that Temple University could take to create a more sustainable campus environment.


When the Sustainability Task Force completed its study, it submitted a report to President Hart, which was fully endorsed by the President and the President’s cabinet.  The University moved forward with several key recommendations, one of which was to establish an Office of Sustainability to assume leadership in the university’s sustainability efforts.  (See www.temple.edu/sustainability for the full report.)


Established on July 1, 2008, the Office of Sustainability is charged with integrating sustainable practices into Temple’s operational, academic and service functions.  Sustainability, which is defined by the United Nations as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” rests on three pillars: the environment, economics, and social justice.  The current global problems of climate warming, financial uncertainties and raging wars, all speak to the need to shine the light of sustainability on every decision made, whether it is at Temple, in our personal lives and in society in general.


Since this is a new office, one of my first tasks is to develop an infrastructure for sustainability throughout the University and to communicate what this office does.   Presentations about sustainability (what it is, what is Temple doing, and what can we do personally) are given to faculty groups, to collegial assemblies, to administrative units, to staff and to students.  Sustainability Ambassadors, faculty and staff, have been named in each school, to communicate initiatives on sustainability, offer advice and insight, report problems or good practices and generally be a resource on sustainability at the local level. Workshops on Sustainability are being offered to employees by the Office of Sustainability through the Human Resources department; sustainability is included in new employee orientation and a section has been added to the new employee manual.


Outreach and engagement is another focus this year.  In October, Temple University participated in Campus Sustainability Day, an event to raise awareness among Temple constituents.  An Eco Village was created at the main campus at the Bell Tower with displays, demonstrations and performances about sustainability.  Faculty served as mentors to students to help them articulate how sustainability spans the disciplines.


Another, recent outreach event was the participation in the National Teach In on Global Warming on February 5th.  The goal of the Teach In was to engage over one million Americans in solutions-driven dialogue on global warming during the first 100 days of the new administration.   Temple’s events in the National Teach In on Global Warming included classroom dialogue where faculty played a key role in discussing with their students the relevancy of global warming in all our lives and how global warming affects the disciplines that students are studying.  Tools for faculty to lead this discussion were provided through the Office of Sustainability by means of power point presentations on global warming as well as a pre-recorded webcast available for download of experts on global warming and solutions.

To enhance sustainability in the physical environment, the Office of Sustainability, along with the Office of Facilities Management, has developed an Energy Conservation Policy. Highlights of this policy include setting indoor temperature limits, prohibiting space heaters, recommending the turning off of computers when not in use, and turning off lights.  A light switch decal project, co-sponsored by the Students for Environmental Action, the Office of Facilities Management and the Office of Sustainability, will be launched in February to remind the Temple community to turn off lights. 


Academic initiatives include providing research funding for sustainability projects to students.  Undergraduate students may apply for funding on sustainability through the Provost’s Office Program for Undergraduate Research Incentive Fund at  www.temple.edu/vpus.  In order for students to be eligible for these research funds, faculty sponsorship is required.  Graduate and professional students are also eligible to receive small research grants for sustainability by submitting proposals directly to the  Office of Sustainability with a faculty mentor’s sponsorship. (See http://www.temple.edu/sustainability)


To increase sustainability courses into the curriculum, a Sustainability Teaching Initiative is being conducted in the Teaching and Learning Center where faculty from various disciplines are engaging in a year-long program, designed to support faculty as they develop their teaching and courses on sustainability, but also to address a university need.  The faculty participants have four charges: 1) to define “sustainability”, 2) to determine criteria for courses to be included in sustainability track within the general education curriculum, 3) to design innovative, interdisciplinary courses and 4) to share the initiative’s work with the university community.


Faculty are encouraged to employ sustainable teaching processes including printing on both sides of a sheet of paper, using blackboard to distribute and collect assignments, turning off electronic equipment when not in use, and encouraging students to buy used books.  There are many more ways than just these to practice sustainability in the classroom.  For more suggestions, visit Sustainable Teaching Tips from Temple’s Teaching and Learning Center.


Faculty serve a unique role in their influence of students, both inside and outside the classroom.  How young people are taught and mentored about sustainability issues is paramount in these difficult times.  Albert Schweitzer, the Nobel Prize winner, physician, scholar and musician said it best:  “Example is not the main thing in influencing others.  It is the only thing.”

Faculty involvement in the sustainability effort at Temple is crucial if we are to succeed. I welcome your comments, suggestions, advice and participation and hope you will contact me,         by phone (204-2517) by email (sustainability@temple.edu) or stop by the office (lower level Mitten Hall on the way to the Diamond Club).

From the Office of Sustainability Website

3.  It’s clear to see, you can recycle glass of all colors

-Recycling one glass bottle saves enough energy to power a 60-watt bulb for four hours, or a computer for 30 minutes·-Purchasing products made of recycled glass increases demand and encourages manufacturers to use fewer virgin resources. 

2.  If a light is on in a room, and no one is there to see it…

-Turning off the lights will result in a net energy savings after 5 seconds of the light being off!

-If we turned off the lights in rooms that were not occupied, Philadelphians would save approximately $4.5 million dollars each year. 

1.  Turn Down the Heat (on your wallet)

-By turning your thermostat down from 72 degrees to 68 degrees in the winter you can save up to 12% ($165 per winter) on your heating bill and reduce your CO2 emissions by 2.7 tons.