Williams College Sustainability Principles

Williams is committed to protecting and enhancing the natural and built environment in which we learn, work, and live, and to supporting the global effort to advance environmental sustainability. These efforts rely on the involvement of all members of the campus community. To succeed, initiatives must be not only environmentally responsible but also socially fair and economically sound.

The College’s greatest contribution is through educating our students, who will go on to become environmental stewards through their many roles as scientists, lawyers, investors, politicians, manufacturers, writers, advocates, artists, teachers, parents, consumers, and citizens. We do this through our teaching, research, and co-curricular offerings, and by demonstrating and embracing sustainable practices in the development and operations of our campus.

As faculty, staff, and students, we educate ourselves about important issues related to sustainability and pass on our learning to the larger communities of which we are all part. We eagerly share ideas with and learn from our neighbors and colleagues and seek consortial arrangements that can develop and broaden such practices. We work to contribute to the development of environmental standards. We report regularly on our progress.

In addition to adhering to all environmental laws and regulations, Williams focuses on the following sustainability issues.

Energy and Emissions:
We reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by increasing energy efficiency and selecting cleaner and renewable energy sources. We reduce energy use by constructing only the facilities we need and by building, renovating, maintaining, and operating them to use energy efficiently throughout their life. As campus community members, we seek to reduce energy use in our daily lives, in our work, and in our travel and to be mindful of the impacts of our choices.

Natural Resources:
We reduce our effects on water systems by minimizing use and by managing storm-water runoff. When materials are required, we select sustainably harvested sources to preserve natural resources. We protect the local habitat by limiting the physical growth of the college. We work to develop built landscapes in ways that support natural ecological functions by protecting existing ecosystems and regenerating ecological capacity where it has been lost. We provide opportunities for members of the community to interact with and appreciate the environment.

Procurement, Consumption, and Waste:
We reduce, reuse, and recycle materials. We work to understand and decrease the environmental impacts of the use, production, transportation and disposal of items we purchase. We select vendors committed to sustainable practices throughout the life cycle of their products, and we prefer to buy locally.

Quality of the Built Environment:
We build and maintain buildings that provide safe, comfortable and healthy environments for students, faculty and staff through effective use of day-lighting, ventilation, and connections with the natural environment. We work to improve our understanding of toxic materials used on campus and to reduce their presence in labs, art studios, and building and maintenance materials as well as in cleaning, landscaping, and pest-control.

Green Building Policies