The Sustainability Theme has seen considerable implementation of action items with notable successes and highlights. The theme is divided into two key pillars: 1) environmental and green initiatives and 2) long-term investment in programs via proper fiscal, financial, and human resources management.
A great number of environmental efforts occurred under the leadership of the Sustainability Advisory Council. Dr. Greg Weisenstein has been, and continues to be, a consistent and strong advocate of these efforts. In October 2010, Dr. Weisenstein signed the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment, which commits West Chester University to make a good faith effort to achieve a carbon neutral environment by 2025.
A campus Climate Action Plan was completed last year and a series of energy initiatives are now underway. Today, the University heats and cools 50 percent of its buildings with geothermal energy and 50 percent by high-efficiency natural gas boilers. By transitioning to these new energy sources, the University is reducing its annual carbon foot print by 7,500 tons of CO2. Beyond the geothermal initiative, WCU's building projects are designed with environmental sustainability in mind. Many buildings are LEED certified. New construction, including the Business and Public Affairs Center, will be LEED certified, as well. Projects also are underway in transportation, purchasing, solid waste/recycling, dining services, co-curricular education, and public engagement with external stakeholders such as the Borough of West Chester.
Financial and budgeting actions focus on the ongoing need to provide funding and support to the critical academic and infrastructure missions of the university. The University has shifted into a "right-sized" budget model and during the year hired a budget consultant to provide advice on establishing a campus-wide budget committee. The University continues to place emphasis on PASSHE and University key performance indicators (KPIs). The ability to react quickly to shifting financial and academic pressures remains a high priority for University budgetary committees. Despite significant challenges, the University manages its fiscal house with great efficiency and flexibility to ensure a sustainable future. However, the long-term financial pressures and constraints impacting West Chester University will make a sustainable path increasingly difficult to manage.