Protostar Sustainability Assessment
During the Summer and Fall of 2014, Fenn faculty and staff came together to complete a comprehensive self-assessment of their current environmental, social, and financial sustainability practices. The school used the Protostar measurement tool; this is a data-driven framework that has been modeled after AASHE’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS), and was revised to be relevant specifically to elementary, middle, and secondary schools, both boarding and day.
Fenn is pleased to report that we received a Bronze rating for our sustainable practices and policies; putting together the individual scores from the Education, Operations, and Planning/Administration/Engagement sections, our aggregate rating is 40.29. We feel that this represents excellent work done by faculty, staff, and students over the past five years as we have begun to intentionally and strategically address opportunities for better sustainable behavior.
Having a “snapshot” of our current practices is helpful only if we are able to analyze it in terms of strengths and challenges. We are excited to dive into planning our next initiatives and behavior modifications soon, and we hope you check back here for regular updates on our plans and progress.
Below is a summary of the final report; please note that it does not address each and every category that Protostar measured us on. For the full scoring and accompanying narrative, please visit our Protostar report.
Highlights: In order to gather data for a number of the curricular credits, Fenn faculty in all departments mapped where sustainability is intentionally taught in our courses. It gave us an opportunity to have many fruitful conversations about what sustainability really is.
Looking Ahead: There are easy opportunities for us to insert education about sustainable behavior into both our curriculum and co-curricular activities. For example, a faculty professional development opportunity is in the works for the Summer of 2015, we intend to address sustainable living in new student orientation this fall, and our current Green Team and Composting Crew champions can be empowered to do more peer-to-peer education about what they do.
Highlights: A change in dining service providers in 2014 allowed us to source more of our food from local farms around our historically agrarian town. We’ve made strides recently in our purchasing habits, paying close attention to our cleaning products, 100% recycled paper, and easily-recycled interior building materials.
Looking Ahead: Fenn has been tracking its electricity, heating oil, natural gas, and water consumption since 2010; we look forward to meeting in the future the ten-year benchmark that Protostar sets for its reporting schools. We already have a good sense of trends and building efficiency since 2010, and will be able to vouch for certain reductions in the future with additional years’ worth of data. Until then, we will continue to assess our consumption patterns and to purchase only highly efficient mechanical appliances and building materials.
Highlights: Fenn has long been a champion of social justice, diversity, and economic accessibility, so it is no surprise we scored highly in the Inclusivity and Affordability categories. Additionally, Fenn’s Administration and Board of Trustees support both environmental sustainability education within the curriculum and ecological sensitivity through smart physical plant management.
Looking Ahead: The data from this 2014 Protostar report provides Fenn with ample information for laying out new short- and medium-term sustainability plans. We will be able to strategize around the low-hanging fruits made evident in the report as well as discuss the more complex, fundamental sustainable tenets that green schools everywhere are called upon to practice.