Mission and Goals

The Office of Sustainability’s mission is to provide tools and strategies to the Johns Hopkins community so that the institution is more sustainable and remains strong and vibrant. The Office of Sustainability works across all university departments and campuses and is housed at the Keswick Building near the Homewood campus.

Sustainability has been a core part of the Johns Hopkins experience for decades.  Rachel Carson, one of the pioneers of the environmental movement, conducted her graduate training in zoology and genetics at Johns Hopkins in the 1920s and 1930s.  Abel Wolman, the visionary for the modern urban clean water systems, spent the majority of his nearly eight decade career at Johns Hopkins.  The Recycling department was created in the 1980s, well before most other universities had such dedicated resources, and in the year 2000, Johns Hopkins hosted a “Greening of the Campus” conference, one of the first in the nation (and several years before AASHE was established).  During that conference, President Brody addressed the group:

At the start of this new millennium, it is even more apparent that how we use the earth and its resources will determine the kind of earth we leave our children and our children’s children.  We face an enormous challenge: to protect the natural world and, at the same time, meet the needs of world’s growing population.  Universities can help meet these challenges by forging new knowledge and providing the students with the necessary tools to solve problems.

I, therefore, declare the “Greening of Johns Hopkins Initiative.”  Through this initiative, we will bring an environmental ethic to the university’s operations.  The aim will be to create a sustainable future.  

William R. Brody, April 21, 2000.

In the early 2000s an Ad Hoc sustainability committee oversaw a number of projects that began the transformation of the campuses, and in 2006 the Office of Sustainability was launched.  The Office has three full time staff members and a rich diversity of partners and affiliates. 

While the Office is involved in many of the wonderful sustainability-related projects and activities happening on the different campuses, none of the progress would be possible without the collaboration and leadership of the many facilities, transportation, purchasing, real estate, and student affairs offices across the university.  Through these collaborations, the university has been able to accomplish great things, such as:

  • Bringing the first shared car service (Zipcar) to Baltimore
  • Creating one of the City’s largest solar power systems
  • Developing healthy and vibrant community gardens
  • Launching community supported agriculture (CSA) drop-off locations
  • Constructing and renovating buildings to LEED standards, including several LEED Gold and (keep your fingers crossed) a possible LEED Platinum (Undergraduate Teaching Lab)
  • Installing one of the largest green roofs on the East Coast (over Decker Quad)
  • Driving up the waste diversion rate to nearly 50% by aggressive campaigns, composting efforts, and “zero waste” events

The Office is also the place where student ideas and energy flourish.  Through programs like Green Lead, the Sustainable Hopkins Infrastructure Program, and the Climate Showcase, students become the drivers of innovation on campus and have been responsible for many of the new projects and initiatives, like the Residence Hall Dashboard and the Take Back the Tap initiative. 

Ideas in Action

Think before you print.

Office paper is highly recyclable, but a lot gets wasted. Waste reduction is more cost-effective than recycling because it reduces the amount of material that needs to be collected, transported and processed.