About the Zilkha Center

The Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives is an office that focuses on campus operations and is involved with co-curricular student engagement.  We work with groups across campus to reduce emissions and to make the college as a whole more sustainable.  We work to encourage and shine a light on positive efforts that are being made as well as to raise issues, encourage, and initiate change in areas that are unsustainable.


Zilkha logo_squareMission

The Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives is committed to protecting and enhancing the natural and built environment in which we learn, work, and live. We research, investigate, support, promote and implement sustainability programs and educational initiatives. We work with faculty, staff and students, and local and national organizations to deepen our understanding of our impact on the earth’s resources and our responsibilities for developing a sustainable future. In working towards that future, we aim to support the global effort to advance environmental sustainability. To succeed, we must balance environmental, social and economical considerations in all of our decisions and actions. At the core of our approach is the belief that sustainability means meeting the needs of our current generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.



In the late fall of 2005, President Schapiro received a petition signed by nearly 1500 faculty, staff and students asking Williams to set greenhouse gas emissions goals. In 2006, he created the Climate Action Committee and charged it “to recommend by the end of this calendar year a goal for the reduction of College greenhouse gas emissions and ways to attain it.” The CAC recommended setting a target of 10% below 1990-1991 levels by 2020, and recommended that Williams hire a director of sustainability responsible for developing and coordinating the implementation of a comprehensive strategic plan for emissions reductions and other issues related to sustainability.

In January of 2007, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to adopt goal of reducing Williams’ emissions to 10% below 1990 by 2020*, and to establish sustainability as an institutional priority.

In the fall of 2007, the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives was established with a generous donation from Selim Zilkha, Class of 1946.

The Zilkha family, whose donation helped establish the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives, owns a business in the biomass industry. This fact does not affect any Center initiatives or programming.