Knox Commits to Talloires Declaration

Knox President Signs on to Sustainability Commitment

June 09, 2008

Knox College has committed to the Talloires Declaration, an institutional commitment to environmental sustainability that has been adopted by colleges and universities worldwide.

"This represents the college's renewed, invigorated and continuing commitment to sustainability at Knox and in general," Taylor said on May 30, 2008 as he signed the declaration at a meeting of the President's Task Force on Sustainability. "It's my privilege on behalf of the students, faculty and staff to take another step in the area of sustainability by signing the Talloires Declaration on behalf of the College."

Pronounced "Tal - Wahr," the Declaration "covers all aspects of sustainability - school, community, country, and world," said student Abby Pardick, a member of the Task Force and of the Student Senate Sustainability committee.

"It's a social and educational document," Pardick said. "It's about interacting with each other, learning about sustainability, on an institutional level and a personal level, student to student, faculty member to faculty member."

According to University Leaders for a Sustainable Future (ULSF), the Declaration is an "action plan for incorporating sustainability and environmental literacy in teaching, research, operations and outreach." The ULSF developed the document in 1990 saying that the declaration was in response to the "unprecedented scale and speed of environmental pollution and degradation, and the depletion of natural resources."

Some of the tenets of the Declaration include:

  • Hosting speakers and campus events on sustainability.
  • Facilitating a discussion among faculty to encourage consideration of sustainability across the curriculum and expand internships and off-campus programs in environmental studies.
  • Collaborating with other colleges, local schools, governmental units and non-governmental organizations.
  • Minimizing waste through expanded recycling, reusing, and composting.
  • Encouraging local and ecologically-sound investments and purchases by campus departments.
  • Implementing environmental construction practices, known as LEED, to the maximum extent practicable for all future campus building and remodeling.
  • Investing in alternative energy sources to the maximum extent practicable.

Knox's Presidential Task Force on Sustainability is comprised of faculty and staff, and representatives of the Student Senate Sustainability Committee. The Task Force began meeting early 2007 and met weekly throughout the 2007-08 academic year.

"The Task Force has been really amazing," said Angie Martin, also a member of the Task Force and Student Senate Sustainability Committee. "The students on the committee have come to every single meeting at 8 a.m. Obviously there's something important here, and people really care about it."

Since conducting a campus-wide energy audit in 1999, Knox has completed a number of energy-saving capital projects, including replacement of 6,000 light fixtures to allow use of high efficiency bulbs, and installation of energy-efficient reflective roofs on several buildings and a high efficiency air chiller. New centralized temperature control units, installed in 2005, are estimated to have saved more than $500,000 annually in energy costs.

In response to the commitment, the college has initiated a number of new programs for the 2008-09 academic year, and the Student Senate has asked the college to add a "Green Fee" to the student activities fee -- to help support sustainability activities on the campus. Currently, projects already underway include enhancing the recycling program and launching a new bike program to provide bicycles for the campus community to use.

In addition to these programs, the college has begun making systemic changes such as reusable take-out containers to eliminate the styrofoam disposable ones, and eliminating trays in the college's dining facilities. And all college offices have begun implementing their own sustainability efforts such as using more e-communication and printing fewer paper copies, and turning out lights in unoccupied classrooms and offices.