Climate and Sustainability Commitment
(As adopted by the Bethlehem Area School District, 28 April 2014)
“Changes to Pennsylvania’s climate are happening now. While there is uncertainty as to the extent and timing of these impacts, it is undeniable that action must be taken to minimize risks to the public.”
—PA Climate Adaptation Planning Report: Risks & Practical Recommendations, PA DEP
As the Bethlehem Area School District Board of School Directors, we believe educational institutions have a special responsibility to demonstrate leadership in their communities as responsible stewards of shared environmental resources. We further believe the potential for adverse health, social, economic and ecological effects resulting from climate change are real.
As responsible environmental stewards, school districts should address the climate challenge by reducing emissions and integrating sustainability into both their educational programs as well as into their support operations. School districts that proactively address environmental concerns better serve their students and their communities. These school districts provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to address the critical, systemic challenges faced both locally and globally. Ultimately, students will benefit from improved environmental and climate conditions as well as economic opportunities that will accompany those conditions.
Beyond addressing environmental challenges and providing educational opportunities for students, responsible environmental stewardship will reduce school districts’ long-term energy costs.
Accordingly, we commit our district to taking the following steps:
1. Complete a comprehensive inventory of annual greenhouse gas emissions since 2010 (including emissions from electricity, heating, and transportation), update the inventory every year thereafter, and make the report available to students, faculty, staff, and the public.
2. Develop a comprehensive plan, by involving administrators, students, faculty, staff, and community members, to guide the development and implementation of ways to integrate academic, operational, and public engagement aspects of climate change and sustainability.
- Academics: explore ways to integrate climate, sustainability, a living laboratory, and eco-literacy into curriculum and immersion experiences for all students, at all levels;
- Operations: continue to improve energy efficiency and sustainability in facilities, transportation, and construction;
- Public Engagement: promote transparency and involve administrators, faculty, students, staff, and the community.
3. Take actions in each of these three areas now to demonstrate a comprehensive, system wide approach.
4. Exemplify leadership by encouraging other school districts to adopt this commitment.
DULY ADOPTED, by the Bethlehem Area School District Board of School Directors, April 28, 2014