Climate Action Plan
As an institution with a substantial footprint in Philadelphia, Drexel University both impacts and is impacted by climate change. As in communities around the world, many of our students, faculty and professional staff may have already experienced serious disruption to their lives or even displacement due to climate shifts, extreme weather or wildfires. At the same time, members of the Drexel community are taking active roles in addressing climate change: through research, activism, education and training to become climate problem-solvers, and by implementing solutions to reduce climate impacts within campus operations.
Drexel University has launched a Climate Action Plan process to chart our pathway to a more sustainable and climate-conscious institution. To create an effective plan, we need participation across the Drexel community from students, faculty, professional staff and alumni who will lend their passion and expertise to the process. Opportunities to participate include joining one of the topic-area committees, attending information-sharing sessions, and responding to an upcoming series of surveys. Faculty members are invited to consider taking on components of plan development as class projects, and there are opportunities to customize work-study positions for students to support committee work with background research. Learn more about Drexel’s Climate Action Plan in the detailed information below.
Structure: A Participatory and Deliberative Process
The Climate Action Plan is a participatory process that is committee-driven with opportunities for Drexel students, faculty, professional staff, alumni, and campus neighbors to participate. The process also features opportunities for those not serving on committees, including in-person and virtual information sessions and our online feedback survey. We believe that a good, actionable, ambitious plan that our community can get behind requires a design process that incorporates ideas from a diversity of community members.
The process will also be a deliberative one in which committee members will investigate, evaluate and come to a consensus on policies, practices, and strategies that will work best for Drexel.
At a global level, tackling the climate emergency will best be served by democratic processes, and we think it is important to emulate that idea in our own institutional planning practices.
The Co-chairs are the project sponsors and champions. They are charged with advocating for both the climate action plan development process and the final product with Drexel’s leadership and across Drexel’s various constituencies.
The Climate Action Plan Task Force is recruited by the co-chairs, and the task force’s job is to determine the parameters of our process, addressing issues like what values will Drexel affirm through this plan, what topic-area subcommittees are needed, what is the format for the subcommittee deliverables, and what is the duration of the plan.
The CAP Task Force was established and has been meeting since the beginning of the 2022-23 spring term. Membership includes:
- Faculty Members
- Jason Baxter
- Tom Hipper
- Antonio Martinez-Molina
- Amanda McMillan-Lequieu
- Professional Staff
- Emily Geschke
- Hugh Johnson
- Kim Miller
- Lisa Miller
- Darin Pfeifer
- Dave Wilson
- Vivek Babu
- Juliet Birch
- Emily Daly
- Alyssa Kemp
- Will Michael
- Savannah Mitchum
The Climate Action Plan Task Force identified both an overarching goal and a set of values and principles that will inform both the process of developing the climate action plan and its content.
The goal for the Climate Action Plan process is to create a viable roadmap of specific actions and resource mobilization to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions at an ambitious and achievable target date to be derived from subcommittee recommendations at the conclusion of the deliberation process. Through an interdisciplinary, collaborative process, we aim to affirm the principles of environmental justice while advancing Drexel’s academic mission. The plan will build resiliency and support equitable health and economic outcomes for all present and future generations at Drexel and beyond.
Guiding Principles: We will explicitly align the CAP process, recommendations and implementation with the Drexel 2030 strategic imperatives and shared values, along with our own CAP guiding principles, as follows:
- Maintain transparency and communication.
- Support data-driven decisions.
- Leverage institutional resources.
- Engage community stakeholders.
- Promote climate and environmental justice.
The Topic Subcommittees develop the Climate Action Plan content. This is where the plan details are created. They will grapple with questions like: How can we arrive at carbon neutrality as an institution? What academic resources are needed? What kinds of purchasing policies can we create to reduce consumption and waste? How can a climate agenda be integrated into our anchor mission?
The CAP Task Force has completed their identification a set of six topic-area subcommittees that reflect the plan and process priorities, and anticipates that these subcommittees will begin meeting during the fall term 2023-24 after an open recruitment period.
- Academics and Research
- Curricular resources and recommendations
- Strategic recommendations for faculty hiring
- Goals for climate- and sustainability-focused course opportunities
- Infrastructure to support student and faculty project and research resources, connections, and collaboration
- Development of co-op and capstone project opportunities and partnerships for students related to regional climate impacts
- Buildings and Energy
- Reducing campus energy consumption
- Identifying needed building system upgrades
- Addressing opportunities related to district energy
- Identifying financing sources for upgrades and system improvements
- Addressing energy sourcing and purchasing related to using less and using cleaner sources
- Addressing Drexel’s expectations for third-party campus development and GHG emissions
- Business Practices
- Climate friendly procurement policies, practices, and partnerships
- Investment and endowment management
- Business travel and commuting
- Waste reduction practices and systems: recycling, composting, surplus sales
- Reducing consumption of single-use plastics
- Dining services and food
- Campus Infrastructure
- Campus fleet
- Water use and stormwater management
- Climate-related priorities for building design and renovation
- Efficient space utilization
- Opportunities in campus landscape management
- Biodiversity-friendly design and practices in the campus built environment
- Civic Engagement and Community Impact
- Linking local economic impact work to climate goals
- Community-facing programming including service and volunteerism opportunities
- Local business and nonprofit partnerships
- Collaborations and alignment with regional higher education institutions and city agencies to multiply impact
- Leveraging existing and building new community partnerships to link service, co-op, capstone projects related to climate
- Institutional Culture
- Improving climate literacy on campus
- Integrating climate concerns into the student life cycle
- Identifying needed administrative structures for climate & sustainability and Climate Action Plan oversight
- Developing and disseminating an institutional climate identity
We expect this process to last around 18 months. Milestones include:
- Co-chair committee formation
- Recruitment of the Climate Action Plan Task Force
- Climate Action Plan Task Force develops the parameters of the process, and recruits the subcommittee membership
- Subcommittees take time to organize, identify the ideas they wish to incorporate, evaluate best practices, and develop final recommendations for their topic areas.
- Climate Action Plan Task Force reviews the subcommittee reports and compiles them into a draft report for the Co-chairs.
- Co-chairs deliver the draft report for review by Drexel’s executive leadership, and then a final report is presented to the board of trustees.
The Climate Action Plan process offers a number of ways for members of the Drexel community to contribute.
- Lend your interest or expertise to a topic-area subcommittee. We anticipate that subcommittees will be launching during the summer term 2022-23.
- Attend a Climate Action Plan information session
- Share your thoughts in Climate Action Plan feedback surveys
- Faculty and students: Take on Climate Action Plan content development in course projects
- Join the Climate & Sustainability team in a work-study role to support subcommittee research
We will be sharing updates via the Climate & Sustainability email list, Drexel Now, Drexel social media channels, and this web page about participation opportunities and events.
Contact the Climate & Sustainability team at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or for help getting started with any of these options.
We will be asking the Climate Action Plan committees to develop recommendations that are implementable in our current budget scenario, identifying whether action items require no special budget allocations, new investment or substantial external financing or grant funding. It is our intent to create a final plan that is ambitious and that we can put into action.
What is a climate action plan? A climate action plan is a roadmap that an institution develops to outline the strategies and activities that it must implement to achieve a specific climate-focused goal, whether that goal is carbon neutrality, climate positivity or simply reducing the institution’s climate impacts by a measurable amount.
Why should Drexel have a climate action plan? There are a few reasons! First, addressing the global climate crisis requires collaborative problem solving and participation across civil society, and that includes our institution. Further, as an engaged anchor institution, it is part of Drexel’s identity to use our influence as an economic engine in Philadelphia and the region to contribute to climate solutions. And finally, we understand that our students expect Drexel to show up for them and for their futures as an institution committed to tackling climate and sustainability issues.
What is the goal with the climate action plan process? Our team hopes to facilitate a thoughtful, participatory, and deliberative process that brings talented and creative Drexel community members to the table, and produces a comprehensive plan that will measurably reduce Drexel’s carbon impacts and elevates us as a climate problem-solver.
The Climate Action Plan process is led by a team of co-chairs. The co-chairs are the process champions, supporting participation across the University and conveying the importance of the plan to Drexel’s institutional leadership. The co-chair committee is made up of leaders from Drexel’s students, faculty and professional staff. They include:
Chair: Julie Ann Jones, Vice President and Chief Procurement Officer, oversees Drexel's spend portfolio as well as EOP reporting and the University’s economic impact initiatives. She focuses on structuring a richly diverse procurement program that builds partnerships to keep the University aligned with their core mission of supporting students in an innovative and civically engaged environment, while furthering Drexel’s commitment as an anchor institution in West Philadelphia. Jones is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) through the Project Management Institute and holds several JAGGAER software certifications. She also dedicates time to three Philadelphia non-profit organizations; serving as Treasurer for Beyond Literacy (BeLit), board member for Women Against Abuse (WAA) serving on their Finance and Development Committees, and board member for University City District (UCD) serving on their Executive Committee representing Drexel University.
Alan Greenberger is Drexel’s Vice President for Real Estate and Facilities. For 34 years, he was a practicing architect with Mitchell/Giurgola Architects and its successor, MGA Partners, where he was a principal and design lead on many award-winning projects. In 2008, Mr. Greenberger left his practice to join the administration of then-Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter as the city’s Chief Planner and then Deputy Mayor for Economic Development. Under his leadership, the City produced a new zoning code and comprehensive plan and experienced its most dynamic growth in half a century. Following the end of the Nutter administration, Mr. Greenberger was appointed Distinguished Teaching Professor and Lindy Fellow at Drexel University where he served as the Head of the Department of Architecture, Design & Urbanism for five years. In March of 2021, Mr. Greenberger was appointed Vice President for Real Estate & Facilities for Drexel where he is now responsible for long-range campus planning as well as facility operations and maintenance. He continues to teach in the Architecture and Urban Strategy programs.
Esta Jacob is a third-year Finance and Legal Studies student in the BS/MBA program and on the pre-law track. She also serves as Buildings and Properties Chair as well as Sustainability Chair for the Undergraduate Student Government Association, after serving as the Freshmen Class President, Sophomore Senator, and Elections Chair. Esta is also involved with the Student Ambassadors Program and the Undergraduate Admissions Team, alternating as Lead Ambassador when she’s not on co-op. Other organizations and programs she’s involved with include the Biddle Law Society, the Policy Council, Drexel French Club and the DAC Pack for some fun! Her current co-op involves working in ESG investing and learning how to help finance a sustainable world.
Avani Kavathekar is a third year student pursuing a B.S. in Environmental Engineering and an M.S. in Peace Engineering with a minor in Sustainability in the Built Environment. She is a Student Assistant at the Environmental Collaboratory working to further student involvement in Drexel’s climate and sustainability initiatives and facilitate other environmental programs and community partnerships. She has also worked with the Sustainable Water Resources Engineering Lab at Drexel where she researched urban heat island intensity in environmental justice communities in Philadelphia. Avani is currently serving as the Vice President of the STEM sorority, Alpha Omega Epsilon, and is involved with the Eco-Reps Program. For her first co-op, she worked at the U.S. Green Building Council as a LEED Co-op Associate and has a LEED Green Associate Credential. She will be working at Langan Engineering and Environmental Services for her second co-op.
Alison Kenner is Associate Professor of Politics and a faculty member in the Center for Science, Technology, and Society at Drexel. Her first book, Breathtaking: Asthma Care in a Time of Climate Change (University of Minnesota Press, 2018), documents how care is materialized at different scales to address the U.S. asthma epidemic. From 2014-2020, Kenner led the Philadelphia Health and Environment Ethnography Lab (PHEEL), which facilitated collaborative projects between Drexel students, governmental and nongovernmental partners, and community organizations, including Climate Ready Philly. Her latest research, the Energy Rights Project, looks at how organizations address energy vulnerability in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region.
Franco Montalto is Professor of Environmental Engineering and directs the Sustainable Water Resource Engineering Lab. He is also the Founder and President of eDesign Dynamics LLC, an environmental consulting firm based in New York City. Montalto is the Director of the North American Hub of the Urban Climate Change Research Network (UCCRN), serves as a member of the 4th New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC4), and an invited co-author of the Northeast Chapter of the 5th National Climate Assessment (NCA5). He is a licensed civil engineer interested in the development of ecologically, economically, and socially sensible solutions to urban environmental problems, with a focus on water resources, sustainability, and climate resilience. His ~25 years of experience have included research, planning, and design of a variety of nature-based solutions involving ecological restoration of degraded landscapes, the use of constructed wetlands for wastewater and stormwater treatment, as well as work with “green infrastructure” and “low impact development” technologies as a means of managing urban runoff, while promoting urban sustainability and resilience.
Mathy Stanislaus is a Vice Provost and Executive Director of The Environmental Collaboratory at Drexel. Stanislaus joined Drexel from the World Economic Forum’s Global Battery Alliance. There, he served as its first interim director and policy director with a focus on establishing a global transparent data governance system to scale up electric mobility and clean energy in alignment with circular economy, human rights and community development. Stanislaus served for eight years as the Senate-confirmed Assistant Administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Land & Emergency Management for the Obama Administration. He led the delivery of technical assistance programs to enable disadvantaged communities to secure federal funding. Among his other achievements at the USEPA was advancing President Obama’s Climate Action Plan by establishing the U.S. government’s first adaptation plans to address emergency preparedness. Mathy was the founding co-director of the New Partners for Community Revitalization in New York, an organization dedicated to strengthening low-income communities and communities of color by linking technical assistance, land use planning and finance. He is a former chair long-term member of the Board of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, and is an environmental lawyer and chemical engineer.
Logistical leadership for the climate action plan is provided by Drexel’s Climate and Sustainability team, situated in Accounts Payable and Procurement Services:
- Jen Britton, Executive Director for Sustainable Development Strategy
- Bo Solomon, Executive Director for Climate and Sustainability