Amanda Hausmann ’21
Trinity College joined with LITTLE Diversified Architectural Consulting to further its goals toward a sustainable future. Most recently, students and faculty joined with LITTLE Architectural Consulting for a visions session, which consisted of a dinner and workshop, to discuss big picture goals for improving Trinity’s environmental sustainability. LITTLE Architectural Consulting is an international architecture and design firm that is “recognized for developing exceptional design solutions. LITTLE delivers results beyond architecture by combining expertise in architecture, engineering, and interior architecture,” according to the LITTLE Architectural Consulting website. Additionally, LITTLE specialized in sustainable design and has “served as the architect of record for the nation’s first sustainable living/learning center.” The dinner and workshop were follow-ups to a project between Trinity and LITTLE that occurred in 2017. Consultants from LITTLE produced an overall report in 2017 that was inclusive to many aspects of Trinity, including sustainability. Now, LITTLE will produce another report specific to sustainability that will tackle some of the issues brought up by members of the Trinity community during the visioning session.
Students in the visioning session were tasked with coming up with potential solutions to the greatest sustainability challenges that presently exist on Trinity’s campus, disregarding any financial limitations, according to Trinity’s Sustainability Coordinator Rose Rodriguez ’15 who was in attendance at the visioning session. One of the main challenges that was discussed was transportation. Students talked about ways to encourage students to take public transportation, such as renovating bus stops around campus to provide better lighting or shelters. Prioritizing public transportation was also noted to potentially help reduce the number of cars on campus, which students pointed out may in turn make on-campus parking easier.
A second topic discussed during the session was the issue of academics and sustainability; specifically regarding the classes that currently exist or could exist at Trinity related to sustainability. Rodriguez stated that one of the reports Trinity is presently trying to complete is “looking at which courses are about sustainability and which ones simply have sustainability as a part of them.” Rodriguez mentioned the possibility of adding an option on the information for course enrollments where students can filter which courses are specifically about sustainability. Rodriguez emphasized the importance of this with regard to the many possibilities for “using Trinity’s campus as a living lab” that could be capitalized on, as is currently being done at colleges and universities across the country.
Once Trinity receives the report from LITTLE, Trinity’s sustainability team will use that information to generate the campus’ “STARS” rating. STARS is a Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System created by AASHE, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. According to Rodriguez, the College can use the STARS rating as a baseline for understanding what changes need to be made to facilitate greater sustainability. Specifically, Rodriguez believes the rating will help Trinity “create a sustainability action plan for the campus that can serve as a living document. Something that will change over time and help to monitor the progress.”
Rodriguez believes it is important to “be more transparent to make sure people really know where the College is.” In addition to the report by LITTLE and the STARS report, Trinity will use its data from its composting program to track the College’s sustainability progress. The newest report by LITTLE is expected to be received by the college within the next few weeks.