W&J partners with Environmental Protection Agency to continue to find ways to reduce, reuse, recycle and rethink


Officials at Washington & Jefferson College understand it is no longer enough to reduce, reuse and recycle.

W&J is also “rethinking”—rethinking what it buys, what it uses and what it throws away—and today entered into a partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency to help continue its efforts to conserve resources by implementing cost-effective environmental and business practices.

W&J President Tori Haring-Smith, Ph.D., was joined by Jessica Greathouse, EPA’s State and Congressional Liaison for West Virginia and Western Pennsylvania, in announcing the sustainability partnership at a formal signing ceremony in the atrium of the John A. Swanson Science Center, W&J’s first LEED-certified building on campus.

“This building (Swanson Science Center) is a kind of statement, a rather bold statement, I think, of our commitment to sustainability,” Haring-Smith said. “I love the name of this particular effort—a sustainability partnership. Sustainability is not something someone can do alone. I thank the EPA for coming to us and I am delighted to be a part of this celebration of the partnership between Washington & Jefferson College and the EPA.”

In May 2008, W&J became a member of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, dedicating itself to educating the community about climate change while moving towards zero-net greenhouse gas emissions. The College’s Climate Action Plan was submitted and subsequently accepted last summer. The creation and implementation of the plan continues to be led by the Campus Sustainability Committee, which was formed by Haring-Smith with the broader mandate to lead the College’s efforts to reduce its adverse impacts on the environment.

Haring-Smith spoke about sustainability at W&J, including the recent renovation of McMillan Hall, thanks to U.S. Department of the Interior’s Save America’s Treasures grant. She also pointed out the many related elements of the John A. Swanson Science Center, including a storm-water reclamation system that utilizes rain water for flushing, a white roofing membrane that helps reduce the buildings contribution to the heat island effect, and large windows that allow for more natural lighting.

“W&J has enjoyed success in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions through annual purchases of a wind-power offset, the reduction of refuse by our food service provider, and the creation of a campus-wide recycling program,” said Robert East, Ph.D., associate professor and director of W&J’s environmental studies program. “Our maintenance-services provider and food service provider have been inspirations for effective mitigation strategies and models of cooperation. We also recently completed the first LEED-certified building in the College’s history.”

As a partner, EPA will contribute technical support and tools to assist the College in fulfilling some specific goals it is already working on and help W&J explore and identify other ways to reach its sustainability goals, whether through recycling, energy cuts, water conservation or materials management.

“The Environmental Protection Agency welcomes Washington & Jefferson College as a Sustainability Partner,” said Shawn M. Garvin, EPA mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator. “The College has set an ambitious goal of eliminating greenhouse gases entirely and we look forward to working together so that this plan becomes a reality. By working to reduce its own carbon footprint, the college is also educating the next generation of environmentally aware citizens. W&J is setting the tone and leading by example.”

W&J junior Adam Toomey, a double environmental studies and biology major, is a on the Campus Sustainability Committee and a member of the Green Club.

“Washington & Jefferson College is no longer only teaching their students about being more environmentally conscious but is committing to showing them first hand. Joining this partnership today shows me that our college isn’t only asking their students to leave with a new gained integrity but instead is leading their students by example.”