The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Recent Sustainability hire, Melissa Adamson, talks background, goals

Adamson enjoys working with metrics to improve sustainability. (Photo courtesy of Lafayette College.)
Adamson enjoys working with metrics to improve sustainability. (Photo courtesy of Lafayette College.)

In November, the Office of Sustainability welcomed Melissa Adamson as the climate action and circularity manager, a new role on campus. Adamson, who worked in transportation planning for five years before coming to Lafayette, specializes in using metrics to inform effective sustainability practices.

 “I saw Lafayette as a place where things were being done in response to the Climate Action Plan and sustainability being a value at the college,” Adamson said. “So when I saw the job posting, I knew I wanted to be a part of that.”

Adamson studied environmental science and public policy at Harvard University.

“My specialty within that was urban planning, thinking of the built environment as a way to advance sustainability and also thinking about the individual choices that we make within the infrastructure and environment we’re set up in to contribute either more or less sustainably,” Adamson said.

After Harvard, Adamson worked in Denver. There, she learned about the importance of metrics and information systems when thinking about urban planning.

“I had been working in the transportation planning space for five years,” Adamson said. “There’s a lot to be said about the importance of data-informed decisions when you’re thinking about capital investments and improvement.”

Adamson’s role as the climate action and circularity manager will allow her to continue to work closely with metrics to improve Lafayette’s sustainability efforts. 

“My role with … metrics and reporting is to be able to take the data that we have available or identify the data that we ought to be collecting to help inform staff, faculty and students about what we’re doing,” Adamson said.

One of the aspects of sustainability that Adamson’s work with metrics will assist with is the college’s goal of carbon neutrality.

“We want to be able to track our progress and make changes to advance our progress towards a carbon-neutral campus,” Adamson said. 

Lafayette’s Climate Action Plan, which was last updated in 2019, provided a framework for the college to reach carbon neutrality by 2035.

Another focus of the Office of Sustainability is encouraging ecologically responsible waste disposal on campus.

“We’ll need robust recycling infrastructure across campus and the best bins and signage system we can to help support that individual decision-making,” Adamson said. 

Ultimately, the Office of Sustainability cannot control how students, staff and faculty interact with the climate. Though the Office can provide the infrastructure that supports sustainability, its effectiveness depends on the community’s willingness to use and expand it. A campus culture that favors climate responsibility may help Lafayette become carbon-neutral by 2035. 

“We exist because the college has decided that sustainability is a value, so things can be done,” Adamson said. “The Board of Trustees approved the Climate Action Plan. From all levels, there’s this belief that sustainability is a value.”

The Office of Sustainability is located in Rockwell Integrated Science Center, room 203. It hosts community meetings every first Tuesday of the month from noon to 1:00 p.m. in the Marlo Room of the Farinon College Center. 

“Identifying stakeholders is an important part of sustainability planning generally, and that’s part of my role here at Lafayette,” Adamson said. “[We make sure] that we as the office are engaging the right people who have a vested interest in the decisions that we’re making.”


Correction 02/03/23: A previous version of this article incorrectly named Adamson as Anderson. 

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    Samantha SmithFeb 3, 2023 at 9:32 am

    We are thrilled to welcome Melissa to our office and the college. Looking forward to our work together to further sustainability initiatives at Lafayette!