Sustainability: A Core Value! Fall Welcome!

15 September 2023

Hello Carleton Community!

Carleton Sustainability Office
Welcome from the Office of Sustainability

It’s an exciting moment in time for sustainability at Carleton. In 2022–2023 we committed to divestment from fossil fuels and realized emission reductions of 58%, exceeding most of our peers through sustained investments in big systems, such as our district energy geothermal system that was completed in 2021. The College is in the midst of solidifying sustainability as a core value in our strategic plan with aims of establishing a carbon neutrality date of 2025 and making continued progress in operational drawdown. The strategic plan will also support strengthened opportunities in education, including a Center for Sustainability with a strong interdisciplinary Environmental Studies program and “sustainability across the curriculum.” 

The Sustainability Working Group (SWG) is working on more specifics in our forthcoming Sustainability Working Group Report and Plan! It will be a bold vision that supports building our climate and sustainability leadership. If you are a student, staff, faculty, or alumni, now is a great time to express your enthusiasm for new opportunities & action ahead!

While the SWG plans for bigger action ahead, the sustainability office continues to support sustainability through our applied projects and engagement activities. Groups and clubs interested in sustainability are invited to reach out to the Office of Sustainability at anytime with ideas for collaboration. We have also started an interest list for students that will be used to support volunteering, or to share networking and career opportunities that come to our office. Faculty and staff interested in academic sustainability can also sign up for our new email list at All are welcome to share strategies for teaching sustainability, professional development opportunities, or leadership opportunities such as grants and networking.

Interns in the Office of Sustainability want to share the projects we will take on this year! We have met with many offices and departments around campus to address community-driven climate action needs to more deeply center equity and environmental justice through our work. 

Projects this year include: 

  1. Generating guiding principles for sustainability assistants’ work and project decisions.
  2. Addressing consumption culture in Zero Waste efforts and supporting big events on campus. Streamlining or reducing management for lower-impact events to shift more work to areas of higher emissions or equity and environmental justice work. Collaborating with facilities and events.
  3. Working with Bon Appétit to set plant-forward goals for food purchasing at Carleton.
  4. Supporting energy efficiency and reduced emissions through lighting retrofits across campus.
  5. Writing a new script for our geothermal and wind turbine tours and offering tours for visitors and our community.
  6. Working with ITS to evaluate whether we can reduce printing and remove print charges that may disproportionately impact students from certain areas of study.
  7. Exploring opportunities in climate adaptation and environmental justice that would support more faculty and student involvement in this area.
  8. Working with the SWG to strengthen strategies for tackling our three highest-scope emission categories (air travel, study abroad, and transportation).
  9. Developing sustainability onboarding materials for new employees, as well as exploring models for employee goal setting and accountability at the nexus of sustainability, inclusivity, diversity, and equity.
  10. Participating in discussions to establish fleet decarbonization goals and transportation equity (affordable transport to Minneapolis).
  11. Collaborating with FOCUS students in the development of sustainability projects that advance our goals
  12. Strengthening participation in Climate Action Week (April 22–27) and Northfield’s Earth Day. We are collaborating with the Division of Inclusion, Equity, and Community on two climate justice literacy and justice skill-building events open to all that will take place on November 8th 3:30-4:30 and February TBD.
  13. Increasing our work for systemic change and the advocacy work we undertake. Please reach out if you have interest in writing position statements or postcards to advance sustainability in Northfield, MN, or beyond. We’d love to partner. Dam removal & single use plastic have been on our mind.
  14. Supporting institutional reporting and accountability in sustainability through AASHE STARS. See our last STARS report!

The Office of Sustainability

Sarah Fortner, Director of Sustainability
Kenta Hikino ’23, Sustainability Coordinator & 5th Year Education Associate
Rob Hanson, Energy Manager
Eli Watt ’25, Student Sustainability Office Manager
Alyssa Alvarez ’26
Julianna Baldo ’25
Grace Bassekle ’25
Ashley Cohen ’24
Sadie DiCarlo ’25
Eva Leikikh ’26
Elena Prichard ’25
Peter Sallinger ’24