In Spring of 2019, a thirty-two page document titled “Concord Academy Sustainability Plan; Spring 2019” was introduced to the CA community. The document details how CA planned to proceed in the following three years and beyond with regards to environmental sustainability. CA’s sustainability plan was one of the first of its kind among private schools in the area and led to the addition of a designated sustainability tab on the official school website. However, by early October 2023, the tab is no longer present on the website and its URL leads to a “No Results Found” page. The current status of the plan and any relevant progress CA has made towards the goal set in 2019 remains unclear.

The plan is composed of an introductory letter from former Head of School Rick Hardy and former Board Chair Fay Lampert Shutzer, student signatures in favor of the plan’s institution, a summary, four distinct areas of opportunity, and a section describing how progress is to be tracked going forward. The areas of opportunity identified in the sustainability plan are greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction, institutional change, sustainable food, and sustainable building operations and materials management. Each of these categories contains a multitude of quantitative goals, with multiple expected to have been reached by 2022. Though data on CA’s progress towards these goals is not widely available, the aspiration of food waste reduction by 20% from 2019 to 2022 as well as the development of a standardized sustainability assessment by 2022 are certainly among the many goals not yet achieved, even as we approach 2024.

In a previous interview with The Centipede, Don Kingman, an initial proponent of the plan and current director of campus planning, design, and construction spoke to the COVID-19 pandemic’s role in disrupting the document’s timeline. “The pandemic hit, and suddenly, that was really the only thing I was focusing on,” Kingman stated. The lengthy duration of the pandemic explains the multi-year delay in execution of the sustainability plan’s listed goals. An adjustment to the sustainability plan, recognized as a “living document” at the time, is long overdue.

As of early October 2023, the Environmental Sustainability Committee (ESC) has met once in the academic year. The ESC, led by Assistant Head for Academics and Equity Rob Munro, is the group of faculty, staff, and students chiefly responsible for the sustainability plan’s implementation as well as the money behind it, notably the Green Revolving Fund. The ESC plans to continue meeting monthly and has designated four subcommittees for GHG reduction, institutional change, sustainable food, as well as sustainable building operations and materials management. The work extends beyond talk, with new Science Department faculty member Chris Labosier serving as the Environmental Sustainability and Justice Coordinator, who is dedicated to fulfilling CA’s institutional goals of sustainability. Additionally, the dining hall has continued their partnership with local companies to reduce food waste and distribute leftover meals. In Operations, line-painting robots have been purchased to reduce paint consumption, LED lighting is being installed throughout the entirety of the SHAC, and data surrounding the impact of CA’s window air conditioning units is being collected; all efforts that work towards GHG reduction goals and sustainable building operations and management goals.

There is a general consensus among all ESC participants that increased transparency and communication surrounding the work already underway and that remains undone is necessary. Participants in the ESC have also voiced a desire to obtain more qualitative data surrounding CA’s consumption. This data could in turn be shared with the greater CA community as well as used to educate a revised sustainability plan. Though Rob Munro’s and newly welcomed Director of Communications and Marketing Heather Sullivan’s decision to remove the sustainability webpage from CA’s website may seem like a step backwards, the opposite is true. Albeit a short-term fix, the removal of this now outdated sustainability plan is an important step towards what the ESC and student environmental co-heads believe should replace it; a designated page on CA’s soon to be redone website highlighting an updated sustainability plan, progress report, and a sustainability dashboard. Ultimately, the increased awareness and numerical understanding has the potential to lead to accountability and by extension, as CA’s mission statement puts it, a more just and sustainable future.