Georgetown is set to launch a comprehensive Office of Sustainability on July 1 that will centralize student and administration sustainability initiatives, Vice President for Planning and Facilities Management Robin Morey announced at yesterday’s Hoya Roundtable.

“We want to establish sustainability as a way of life here and meet President [John J.] DeGioia’ssustainability commitments to the city,” Morey said at the event. “We want to reduce our carbon footprint by 50 percent by the year 2020.”

All university sustainability initiatives are currently overseen by Program Coordinator for Sustainability Audrey Stewart. Morey said that this structure has provided insufficient resources for these programs.

The creation of the Office of Sustainability was first recommended in March 2012 by the Visions for a Sustainable Georgetown Initiative, a project led by small focus groups of undergraduate students and administrators that brainstormed ways the university could become more sustainable in both the immediate and long-term future.

The study reported that an Office of Sustainability could provide advice on administrative and student-run sustainability projects, keep the university accountable for its Climate Action Plan, create a sustainability review board for university operations and hold related campus-wide events.

Morey’s description of the responsibilities of the office largely mirrored the ones outlined in the study. The office would be charged with reducing the overlapping bureaucratic processes now associated with the university’s sustainability projects.

“While … details are still being worked out, I would anticipate that one of the roles of the office will be as a facilitator, [a] convener and a resource to help integrate sustainability across the whole campus to help the university meet our sustainability commitments,” Stewart wrote in an email.

The intention is to give students a significant voice in initiatives undertaken by the new office, following the precedent set by the current Sustainability Advisory Committee. This group was established in 2007 and is currently chaired by Morey with representation by the Georgetown University Student Association, student environmental groups and Georgetown faculty.

“[The Office of Sustainability] will provide a consistent means for students to propose sustainability projects and see them through to completion … and bring environmental issues to the forefront of strategic planning for the university,” GUSA Secretary of Sustainability Gabe Pincus (SFS ’14) said. “Whereas sustainability projects have been implemented somewhat arbitrarily in the past, I expect the Office of Sustainability to systematize the planning process so that sustainability pervades, or at least is considered for, each new project.”

Former GUSA President Clara Gustafson (SFS ’13) and Vice President Vail Kohnert-Yount (SFS ’13) intended to create the office during their term but saw limited progress on this goal before transitioning leadership to current GUSA President Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) and Vice President Adam Ramadan (SFS ’14).

“Vail and I took office with a lot of ambitious goals. We worked really hard and accomplished a lot, but the working process in the university administration sometimes takes longer than one term of the student government,” Gustafson said.

Pincus, a holdover from Gustafson and Kohnert-Yount’s term, expressed optimism about the office’s potential to make the university a greener campus.

“The office symbolizes Georgetown’s growing commitment to sustainability on the whole,” he said. “The office will provide the basis for coordination and expansion and lay the foundation for future sustainability initiatives at Georgetown.”

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