During the Spring ’21 semester, five students proposed introducing Franklin University Switzerland’s very own Green Office (GO) as part of their Environmental Studies Capstone Project. Flash-forward to the Fall ’22 semester and the GO not only has officially been launched with a special mandate signing ceremony. Today, the GO has its own team, made up of staff and students, and has also been officially accepted as a member of the Higher Sustainability Education Initiative (HESI), and the Green Office Movement, thus representing the first and only official Green Office in Switzerland.
“We are all very passionate and strive to initiate conversations among the Franklin community on sustainability as part of the education and learning experience on campus,” states Jean Wu, newly appointed director of the GO.
A UC Berkeley School of Law graduate with a Certificate of Specialization in Environmental Law, Jean Wu has been living in Lugano for almost a decade and felt drawn towards Franklin and the GO project and commented “We intend to make the GO a hub for sustainability initiatives, collaboration, and real-world applications of sustainability policies within the university community and beyond.”
Under Jean’s direct supervision, the Franklin GO operates within five different branches, through its GO Scholars and Garden Interns: campus operations, event coordination, education and research, external affairs and projects, and marketing. Together, Ghala Ashoor ‘25, Jordan King ‘25, Skylar Temple ‘24, Grace Meller ‘25, Aly Mitu ‘23, Tristan Cousin ‘24, Sophie Kendrick ‘23, Emily Scheibler ‘24, and Rosie Turbyville ‘25, are working as a team to create a healthy environment, conserve energy, reduce pollution and promote sustainability-related initiatives at Franklin.
In its first three months, the GO has developed and implemented several different projects. For example, as a companion to Franklin’s Academic Travel (AT) program, the GO has designed an innovative approach to reducing the overall emissions generated by the University as part of its goal to help Franklin reach carbon neutrality. Called the Academic Travel Carbon Trading Program (the ACT Program), it allows participants to calculate, reduce and offset their AT carbon footprint. For Fall '22, the ACT Program’s carbon credits will be applied to fund the replacement of heavily polluting landscaping equipment with sustainable electric-powered equipment.
Another project being led by the Franklin GO this semester centers on its role as part of the Education Coalition supporting the Right Here, Right Now, Global Climate Change Summit, co-hosted by the University of Colorado Boulder and the United Nations Human Rights. The summit is scheduled for December 1-4, 2022 and the GO will host watch party sessions to enable participants in Europe to benefit from the summit program. As part of these sessions, the GO will lead discussions to broaden the understanding of how human rights are impacted by global climate change. Furthermore, GO Scholar Grace Meller '25 plans to meet with the sustainability office at the University of Colorado Boulder over the winter break to learn more about how Franklin can implement effective sustainability change.
Closer to campus, the GO has initiated a Campus Compost Program, educating students and the rest of the Franklin community on what items can and cannot be composted. The GO Scholars have identified compost collection points, worked on the procurement of compost bins, researched collection methods, and stocked the campus composting center with starter worms. The compost will be used in Gardiner’s Garden on North Campus, which is slowly flourishing again with a big help from the Go Garden Interns, growing winter carrots, radishes, and potatoes.
Finally, the GO is also working to update the university’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System report (STARS). STARS is a transparent, self-reporting framework developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. The large task of updating Franklin’s STARS report will allow the university to demonstrate the ways in which it has been integrating sustainability into all aspects of its campus, community, and curriculum.
Learn more about Franklin’s GO mission, team, project and initiative, and upcoming events here. Finally, don’t forget that you too can contribute to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly campus and future by supporting the Franklin GO at this link and selecting the GO as the designator.