Meet Kelly Wellman: Kelly Wellman serves as the Sustainability Officer for Texas A&M University. She is responsible for educating the campus about sustainability, promoting sustainable practices both on and off campus and providing resources and support for people who wish to incorporate sustainable practices into their work and life. She is a member of the campus Tree Advisory Committee, Sustainability & Environmental Management Committee and the Student Sustainability Council. Wellman represents the university as a member on Texas Regional Alliance for Campus Sustainability. She holds a bachelor’s degree in geography from Texas A&M and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix.
What gives you the most hope for the future of the environment, locally and globally?
Working with students fills me with optimism for the future. So many of them are socially and environmentally aware and they genuinely want to make a difference – not just for themselves – but for our global community. When I see the Aggie Core Values come to life through our students and their passion for positive change, it refuels me for the challenges our society faces.
What’s the newest project/initiative that the sustainability office is working on and what makes it significant?
We are conducting a pilot of our new Sustainable Office Certification (SOC) program. The goal of this program is to make Texas A&M’s staff and faculty more aware of sustainable practices that can be easily incorporated into everyday life, while collectively reducing the consumption of goods or services. Many of our offices outreach programs target students and the SOC is the first program which specifically targets faculty and staff. This is significant because faculty and staff are often members of the campus community for longer periods of time than students; therefore, when sustainable behaviors are incorporated, they can have longer-term impacts.
What are some of the green initiatives on campus that you’re most excited about?
Our campus has so many great things happening around sustainability. Whether it’s the new energy efficient Combined Heat & Power (CHP) plant and Energy Stewardship programs, the successful University Dining recycling and composting initiative, sustainability programs in Residence Life, or the myriad alternative transportation programs such as ride sharing or car sharing; our campus has numerous means of addressing our operational needs for sustainable systems model. Our office has been specifically working on ways to increase student participation and outreach and we are excited about our student volunteer program. We have begun using student enthusiasm to launch programs such as the Sustainability Cam where we move around campus and capture photos of people performing sustainable actions. These photos are then shared on our Facebook page. The Sustainability Cam is one example of how we want to leverage social media to spread the word about sustainability.
What’s a project you’d like to get started that isn’t off the ground yet?
One of our future projects will be to launch a Sustainable Awards program. Many departments and colleges are working towards sustainability in a variety of exciting ways. We want to develop a program that recognizes the vision and efforts of these campus leaders on an annual basis.
How does Texas A&M compare with some of our peer institutions when it comes to sustainability?
Texas A&M is well on its way to becoming a sustainability leader. For institutional comparisons, we look to the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) for benchmarks. STARS is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. STARS® was developed by AASHE, an acknowledged thought leader that advances sustainability in the higher education community.
Texas A&M recently published our STARS assessment and we are pleased to report that our institution earned a Silver rating. To date, 178 campuses have completed assessments, of which 51% of institutions were also rated as Silver. The complete report can be found here.
How optimistic about the future are you when it comes to the green movement on campus?
Students have been a driving force in campus sustainability programs across the nation. Aggies are no exception. Our students have worked to bring increasing awareness to sustainability. As an example, the students passed a referendum in 2010 to charge $3/semester for an environmental fee. This established the Aggie Green Fund (AGF) which generates an estimated $320,000 annually for environmental improvements to our campus. AGF is responsible for funding programs such as outdoor recycling containers, water bottle filling stations and a student farm program.