Town Hall organized to discuss the University’s vision for the sustainability plan


Members of the Sustainability Leadership Council held a town hall with Provost Sunil Kumar and Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration Laurent Heller on December 2 to discuss drafting the University’s plan sustainability plan, which will set targets and initiatives through 2030. The plan’s initial vision focuses on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, establishing building guidelines and other priorities.

Hopkins’ guest speaker and alumnus Dr. Jonathan Patz, director of the Institute for Global Health at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, joined the trustees at the event. Patz co-chaired the health report of the first congressionally-mandated US national climate assessment. For 15 years, he was lead author of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

Patz opened City Hall with a conversation about how climate change needs to be tackled immediately. He described several ways to tackle climate change, including the transport sector and green travel, decarbonizing the healthcare system and what universities can do.

“Universities inspire and train future leaders. Number one should be to absolutely build that into the whole program and through engagement with partners, ”he said. “Climate change is and should be a non-political issue. It’s about facts and science and just you as a university; we need to promote science and train the next generation.

Janika McFeely, senior sustainability consultant at Integral Group, a deep green engineering and consulting firm, spoke about her role as an advisor for the University’s sustainability plan.

“The goal here is to create an updated framework for the next eight years, to 2030,” she said. “We need to prepare the ground for milestones that will require a longer time horizon, such as the goal of carbon neutrality or another carbon climate action goal that may have a longer roadmap.”

McFeely stressed the importance of involving all members of the Hopkins community, from staff and students to community partners and the local Baltimore community.

“Our biggest goal is stakeholder engagement, so this is a co-created plan,” she said. “It’s not us, as consultants, who come in and say, ‘This is what you have to do.’ It is not the Office of Sustainability that creates it itself. It really is a consensual vision framework and roadmap.

McFeely spoke about the steps the board has taken to be transparent and responsive to community feedback, including stakeholder meetings and a survey which is being distributed to gather opinions to inform the next project, which will be finalized around April 2022.

The Director of the Office of Sustainability, Julian Goresko, explained how community engagement and environmental justice were two important factors in informing the community about the plan to tackle climate change.

“Environmental justice is an issue within our Johns Hopkins community. This is true with our surrounding communities; this is also true and how the University can have a positive, perhaps negative, impact on environmental justice on a global scale through our research and broader activities, ”he said. “We have to think about this at all scales. There is a particular urgency for those of us here in Baltimore because of the importance of environmental justice and historical and current environmental injustice in our city.

Megan Latshaw, associate scientist in environmental health and engineering at the School of Public Health, explained how this plan will include the Hopkins campuses inside and outside Baltimore.

“We often think of Baltimore because a lot of our campuses are in Baltimore, but we also have campuses in other parts of the country that will be part of this sustainability plan as well,” Latshaw said. “We’re also thinking about ways to engage the wider community there as well. “

Jonathan Pruitt, a master’s student in public health, wrote in an email to The Newsletter that he saw the event as a step towards transparency and that he hopes that more attention will be paid to environmental racism and the intersections with public health.

He wrote about the next important steps the University should take to incorporate community feedback and be accountable to the community at large.

“I appreciated the actions taken by the University towards the many committees it has on this subject covering different perspectives and backgrounds,” he wrote. “I would like to see if there is a way to make a community benefits agreement where the community also owns it. This sustainability plan has the potential to be holistic in a way that everyone takes ownership of. Community involvement is what I’m looking for.


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