SSW Steps up to Climate Change Challenge

in SSW News Releases
March 25th, 2010

Competing against 16 other colleges within Boston University, 45 School of Social Work faculty, staff, and student members won Sustainability@BU’s first Carbonrally environmental challenge. The new monthly contest seeks to reduce the University’s environmental footprint through campus infrastructure upgrades and by connecting faculty, staff, and students to partake in and support these efforts.

Co-sponsored by, a web platform that provides individuals and groups an easy way to save energy, the monthly contests aim to motivate team members to make small adjustments in personal behavior that would help cut down on energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.

As the SSW team had the highest participation rate per member than any other BU team, they will be having a Bean Burrito Party on April 14, 2010 from 12-2pm in the SSW Student Lounge. Provided by Catering on the Charles, the party is open to all faculty, staff, and students.

SSW was the winner of the January challenge, which asked team members to not eat meat for two days in one week. According to Carbonrally, Americans, on average, eat about 200 pounds of meat each year, an increase of around 50 pounds per year since 1960. Meat carries an enormous impact on climate change, and as much as 22 percent of greenhouse gas emissions derive from agriculture. By not eating meat for two days per week, the SSW team reduced their carbon dioxide emissions by 13.2 pounds per week.

Staff members Jennifer Pace and Yen Pham served as Sustainability liaisons, providing a communications link between Sustainability@BU and SSW. Their role was to promote sustainable actions within the School, attend meetings with the Sustainability committee to share practices and lessons learned, and participate in the implementation of projects.

Together, Pace and Pham sought to sign up as many people from the School to join each month’s challenges. Through Facebook posts and messages, contacting faculty and staff, and emailing on-campus and off-campus students, they were able to encourage all 45 participants to join the SSW team.

 “We talked to faculty, staff, and students – in the kitchen, the hallway, and the lounges – about how important it was to win the first competition," Pham said. "This was about all of us working together to make an impact. As a small school at BU, we wanted to make a gigantic impact and let the University know what we’re capable of doing as a whole.”

Each month Sustainability@BU posts a simple, short-term “challenge, which is a small, sustainable action that members can incorporate into their daily lives. Team members can track their progress via their “My Carbon Page” and view a “Total Impact Map” for real-time results in different colleges on campus and throughout the country.

 “I am proud that we could stand out to the rest of the university,” Pace said. “While the School of Social Work is working on helping society, it is also important for us to be conscious of the environment we are living in. The Carbon Rally really opened our eyes to see how much damage we do to the earth every day.”