Temple Strives to Promote a Sustainable Campus


In the fiscal year 2006 baseline year, Temple’s greenhouse gas emissions were 226,219 metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent and were expected to rise 21 percent by 2020, according to the university’s Climate Action Plan.

In 2010, however, Temple University developed the Climate Action plan as a member of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, with the goal of achieving climate neutrality. This plan sparked a lengthy list of new sustainability initiatives on campus.

Kathleen Grady is the Director of Temple’s Office of Sustainability.

“Temple signed the climate agreement to become carbon neutral by 2050, and are currently updating our Climate Action plan to include resiliency component,” Grady said.

As they begin to revamp the plan, the Office of Sustainability held town hall meetings across campus all throughout September and October to promote community and student inclusion.

Temple’s biggest changes include their LEED-certified green buildings, energy conservation campaign, waste minimization, and bike-friendly campus status, although dozens of other initiatives can be found on the Office of Sustainability’s website.

One of the initiatives with the largest impact is Temple’s dedication to building LEED-certified buildings. To be certified, a building must have a certain number of “green” elements, such a water-efficient landscaping, low-emitting material, or accessibilities to bike and public transport amenities.

The LEED standards were designed by the U.S. Green Building Council as a voluntary rating system to encourage eco-friendly architecture, according to Grady.

“The new library will have one of the biggest green roof in the state,” Grady said. “All of our new construction has to meet LEED. We have six LEED projects on campus already, and the new library will be another one.”

Grady also said that one way students can easily get involved in promoting a sustainable campus is by supporting the student-run Rad Dish Co-op Cafe located in Ritter Annex. The cafe serves all organic, locally sourced, or sustainable products and is ran democratically by a board of directors.

Rebecca Gradle is a Rad Dish employee. She shares her thoughts on how Temple could improve sustainability.

“I’ve heard Morgan Hall doesn’t even use real silverware anymore, it’s all plastic,” Gradle said. “We use real plates, it’s no big deal to wash them since, in the long run, it reduces waste.”

The cafe also uses reusable mugs and composts all of their food waste.

If a community member pays a one-time fee, they are awarded with a discount and say in all major co-op decisions. Membership can also be achieved by completing a set number of hours per semester for the same perks.

More information about Temple’s commitment to sustainability can be found at sustainability.temple.edu.