Graduate student appointed UMass Sustainability Coordinator
Graduate student and Eco-Rep creator Josh Stoffel was recently appointed to the new position of Sustainability Coordinator for the University of Massachusetts.
The 23-year-old Franklin, MA native completed his undergraduate degree at UMass, and is now currently working on his master’s degree with an individual concentration in sustainability.
In his new role as Sustainability Coordinator, Stoffel said he “hopes to increase the level of awareness and involvement on campus” for environmental protection. In his position, he aims to help the University take on new projects to promote sustainability, as well as become a model for other universities and even some state governments.
Josh Stoffel was unanimously voted into his new job by the Student Government Association Environmental Committee, after Vice Chancellor of Finance Joyce Hatch agreed to fund the position.
As an undergraduate at UMass Stoffel began the Eco-Rep program, a peer-to-peer student facilitated environmental program.
Eco-Rep is formed by a network of student leaders including a complex hierarchy of peer managers, eco-reps and Stoffel. He said it was formed this way to have support at every level. The purpose of Eco-Rep is to educate peers on the environment through monthly focuses. Stoffel said he created it to “reach out and push,” but thinks it has greater potential and “could be more effective.”
Stoffel is helping UMass draft a Climate Action Plan on how to reduce carbon dioxide on campus in the next five-15 years. He said it showed the University’s “commitment to the environment.”
Along with the Climate Action Plan, UMass is one of many schools part of the President’s Climate Commitment, in which the school pledges climate neutrality – energy consumption through the burning of fossil fuels is balanced by green energy initiatives, tree planting and the purchasing of carbon credits. Stoffel called this a “huge task, even for Harvard,” whose budget far surpasses UMass’. He joked that they could buy their way to neutrality.
Stoffel plans to combat what he sees as a campus flaw – poor communication – with the new Green Portal, an environmental internet hub that could be found at umass.edu/green.
Another high tech plan moving into action is the energy dashboard. Energy dashboards are flat screen televisions that are planned to be set-up in the lobbies of four dormitories on campus. The screens will have an easily readable meter of the water, steam and electricity being used in that dorm.
The plan is to use the meters to inform the students and reduce consumption. The meters are planned to be set up in Van Meter, Leech, Moore and Wheeler starting next semester and will pit the dorms against each other in contest to see who can use the least energy per student.
Stoffel first became interested in the environment when he was a child. He said he remembers his father and grandfather always bringing him outside and exposing him to the environment, endowing him with “a strong appreciation for nature.”
His approach towards conservation is to start out small. This could mean walking rather than driving, as Stoffel walks one mile every morning on his way to work. He joked it was getting harder and harder to make himself walk past his car every morning as it got colder out.
Stoffel wants to get the faculty involved as well as the students. He said, “sustainability, although it is an environmental thing, it is a human thing. What we have now has to last forever.”
Next semester Josh Stoffel hopes to involve students more directly with his new position. He plans to offer internships for either cash or university credit. He said he “needs help, it too much to do alone.” Although he is young he admits that younger students are more cutting-edge, and he wants that style of innovation with his project.
Sam Hayes can be reached at email@example.com.