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Environmental Accolades

Environmental Accolades

Williams College continues to make strides integrating sustainability into campus operations and embedding it into decision-making, learning and organizational culture. This fall the college has been recognized for its work by a few organizations.

First, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), ranked Williams 7th and 10th in the Buildings and Energy categories, respectively, from several dozen institutions included in its 2023 Sustainable Campus Index. The Index recognizes top-performing colleges and universities by country, institution type, and in 17 sustainability impact areas including Air and Climate, Food and Dining, Campus Engagement, and Coordination and Planning. The Index’s rankings are based on the college’s recent STARS report, a comprehensive, organizational self-assessment, which colleges and universities across the country use to report on sustainability in four key areas: Academics, Engagement, Operations, and Planning and Administration.

In addition, the Post-Landfill Action Network (PLAN), a nonprofit organization that equips students with the resources and tools necessary to holistically understand the waste crisis and lead effective solutions on their campuses, recognized Williams’ progress in developing waste management and reduction systems with a bronze rating in the organization’s latest Atlas report. This score places Williams in the top 10 institutions from about 50 that have completed the certification.

The Zilkha Center began working with PLAN in the fall of 2019, first to conduct a holistic campus assessment of the college’s waste management and repurposing systems, policies, and processes, followed by a strategic waste visioning process (PLAN’s Atlas project, phases 1 and 2) which aligned with Williams’ strategic planning goals on responsible resource use.  This past spring, three years after the initial waste assessment, Zilkha staff and interns worked with PLAN to conduct a second waste assessment. The improvements over the past three years earned the college a bronze rating. 

Lastly, Williams is among the top Green Colleges in the Princeton Review‘s Guide to Green Colleges. The Princeton Review explains that “The schools that made our Top 50 Green Colleges list share superb sustainability practices, a strong foundation in sustainability education, and a healthy quality of life for students on campus.”

“The recognition from AASHE, PLAN and The Princeton Review reflect the multi-year efforts by the college to formulate clear sustainability goals through the community-wide strategic planning process, resource investments in support of those goals, and the thoughtful and dedicated daily work of people across the institution to implement them,” says Mike Evans, deputy director of the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives. “It’s gratifying to see this acknowledgement of the college’s work when it comes to buildings, energy and zero waste. There’s still plenty of work to do, but we are pleased to share these accolades with the campus community.” 

Learn more about the Zilkha Center and the Strategic Plan’s cross-cutting sustainability commitments.