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From the President

Sustainability Starts Here

Leonard A. Schlesinger

Photo: Patrick O’Connor

Shortly after becoming president in 2008, I signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, moving Babson on a course to achieve ambitious environmental and energy goals. In the years since, faculty, staff, and students have been working to incorporate these goals into campus life as part of our broad-based sustainability efforts. Sustainability is central to our strategic plan. It was embedded by our faculty in the renewed MBA and undergraduate curricula. In 2010, we opened the Office of Sustainability, and sustainability is at the core of the Green Tower and other student initiatives.

With hundreds of sustainability initiatives undertaken in the past four and a half years, Babson has become a materially different campus. We’ve “upped our game,” as you can see in a few examples from just the past six months:

  • More and more students are pursuing businesses in the green space at the Butler Venture Accelerator and around campus. At our Rocket Pitch forum in November, 12 percent of the 95 pitches were for businesses that offer green solutions, including EcoCharge (solar charging stations), The Farmers Bliss (first online farmers market), and Si Devices (precision energy management products and services).
  • In October we celebrated the installation of our first electric vehicle charging stations, located in the Knight parking lot. The charging stations, like so many cutting-edge ideas on campus, came from our students. MBA students in the Babson Environmental and Energy Club contacted Toyota Corp. As a result of their conversations, Toyota donated and installed the vehicle charging stations.
  • The three-college (Babson, Olin, and Wellesley) sustainability certificate introduced a new capstone course, “Sustainability Synthesis,” in which student teams work with clients on challenges: reducing energy consumption in a U.S. hospital, changing the pricing structure for water to encourage conservation in a U.S. town, and exploring the water and energy requirements for a tea factory that could benefit an East African community. By applying multidisciplinary tools to these challenges, students are building strong capabilities in change management.
  • Our master plan reflects our ongoing commitment to use Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards in new construction, beginning with our new residence hall (see “Pushing Boundaries”). Any new buildings or major renovations will be at a LEED silver certification or better, the top tiers for environmental sustainability.

There’s never been more enthusiasm at Babson for applying entrepreneurial approaches to build a greener and more sustainable world, and we’ve started right here on campus.

Leonard A. Schlesinger