Skidmore College presents at national sustainability conference

AASHEIn early October, Ela Lepkowska-White, professor in the Management and Business Department, Rachel Willis, Sustainability Fellow, and Levi Rogers, Sustainability Fellow, visited Nashville, Tennessee for this year’s Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) annual conference. This year’s conference theme focused on Resiliency and Adaptation. Over 1800 sustainability leaders from colleges, universities, and businesses across the county connected for the 3-day conference.

The venue for the conference was Nashville’s new sustainably designed Music City Center, a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certified building. The center features a four-acre green roof representing the rolling hills of Tennessee, a 360,000-gallon rainwater catchment system used to irrigate outdoor landscaping and flush toilets, 845 solar panels, along with other efficient design elements like natural day lighting, LED lighting, and a high-efficiency HVAC system.  The Music City Center is a perfect space for a sustainability conference and is a clear embodiment of creative thought in action.

This Skidmore team learned from the hundreds of AASHE attendees but also had a lot to share. Ela Lepkowska-White presented at the conference alongside Jack Byrne, Middlebury’s Director of Sustainability Integration, and Michelle McCauley, a Psychology Professor at Middlebury, highlighting the planning, implementation, and outcomes of faculty development workshops in sustainability. Middlebury and Skidmore have collectively offered faculty development workshops in sustainability for several years and have reached over 60 faculty members. This presentation provided an opportunity to share methods and lessons learned so other colleges and universities may integrate faculty development into their overall strategy for campus sustainability.

Levi Rogers, Sustainability Fellow, presented a poster showcasing Skidmore’s student-led composting program. Since colleges face many of the same challenges in launching campus-composting programs, such as funding, planning, and implementation, Levi was able to show how Skidmore overcame various challenges and launched a successful composting program for the students living in the North Woods Apartment Village.

The conference included amazing keynote speakers like Raj Patal, dozens of workshops and presentations, and posters covering a wide variety of topics. The Skidmore team attended presentations on waste diversion programs, integrating art and sustainability, and strategic planning tools. The conference was also a great networking opportunity, allowing the Skidmore team to build new connections with schools across the country.

In such a rapidly expanding field, the AASHE conference offers sustainability leaders the space to learn from each other and better strategize for the future. It was a full conference and one of the attendees captured the experience perfectly– the Skidmore team came back feeling completely exhilarated and completely exhausted!

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