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The Dean's Letter on Sustainability

April 8, 2008

Dear faculty, students and staff:

In keeping with the Bloomberg School’s mission to save lives and protect the health of populations worldwide, I charged the School’s Environmental Stewardship Committee (ESC), which includes members from each department and from the student body, to observe the environmental practices of our School. Profound global climate change threatens the health of the planet and endangers many species, including our own. This committee, in partnership with Facilities Management, the Center for a Livable Future, and the Program on Global Sustainability and Health, ascertained impacts and evaluated programs that could lead to new or revised environmental policies. In addition, the Committee was to recommend operational strategies that have the potential to:

  • Enhance the School's compliance with applicable environmental laws, regulations, rules, policies and procedures
  • Reduce environmental impacts
  • Promote environmental education for the Schoolwide community
  • Position the School as a leader in campus sustainability

I am happy to say that they have begun to make recommendations, just in time for Earth Day, which is April 22. On this day, the School will debut its new single-stream recycling program, which will bring about a meaningful reduction in our footprint. I encourage you to take advantage of this robust and convenient recycling program, and I hope that you will visit the websites of the ESC and the Student Outreach Resource Center, SOURCE, to learn about more activities celebrating Earth Day. In addition, please watch for information about a Schoolwide voluntary brown-out in which all interested will dim or turn off office lights for a noontime “lights off.”

The Bloomberg School was the first of the Hopkins divisions to complete a greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory, establishing the benchmark by which all efforts to reduce emissions can be measured. Within our buildings we recently replaced more than 35,000 incandescent and fluorescent lights with energy-efficient and longer-lasting bulbs that reduce energy costs by tens of thousands of dollars and GHG emissions by 890 metric tons annually. Across the University, the School’s copy program and its Copy Center have led the use of recycled paper, a practice which has resulted in using 35 percent fewer trees for the 112 million copies produced since 2001, a 13 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a 32 percent decrease in hazardous air pollutants and a 17 percent decline in solid waste and water pollution.

While we have achieved some significant accomplishments, there are many more initiatives under way.  Our goal is to incorporate sustainability into the fabric of the School culture, to consider the environmental impacts of our many daily decisions and to advance research into the effects of global climate change on public health. We can consume cleaner energy, and less of it. We can purchase products that have more positive ecological impacts. We can reuse and recycle our resources. With a smaller ecological footprint, we can secure the planet’s health, improve our own lives, and brighten the futures of the next generations. Join me as the Bloomberg School again leads the way.

Our School is poised to lead the University’s sustainability initiative. By reducing carbon emissions and by researching, developing and adopting sustainable practices, we can be the vanguard of environmental leadership.


Michael J. Klag, MD, MPH
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health