New sustainability director looks to engage students and faculty in push for carbon neutrality

Delicia Nahman works closely with The Office of Sustainability in the newly opened Rockwell Integrated Science Center. (Photo courtesy of Delicia Nahman)

Delicia Nahman works closely with The Office of Sustainability in the newly opened Rockwell Integrated Science Center. (Photo courtesy of Delicia Nahman)

This semester Lafayette College welcomed Delicia Nahman, the new Director of Sustainability, to campus after the position being vacant for the past year.

Nahman’s background in sustainability began in the early 2000s with advocating for the University of California Board of regents to adopt a clean energy and building policy.

“[I] found that both through that successful advocacy and wanting to engage peers in learning about sustainability and testing new sustainability solutions to campus sustainability challenges, that working as a sustainability director within higher ed was really exciting.” Nahman said. “I’ve never looked back and I’m so glad.”

Nahman was the Sustainability Officer at Lehigh University before joining Lafayette as the Sustainability Director. Nahman said that she appreciated the opportunity to work at a school with a focus on teaching and research.

“[Lafayette] understood that sustainability is both environmental stewardship, but it’s also about creating an inclusive campus and broader community, which I think is a core pillar of sustainability,” Nahman said.

Another pillar of sustainability that Lafayette understands, Nahman said, was why sustainability is a good business proposition. These aspects put Lafayette College in a position to be a leader in environmental sustainability, she added. One example of this leadership was the college embracing utilizing the campus as a living laboratory and bridging these operations to teaching and learning.

In addition to embracing using the campus as a living laboratory, Nahman said that she felt involving alumni knowledge and expertise is an important way to push sustainability on campus.

“I think it is a really important asset, and I would love to see more opportunities to engage alumni in supporting the college’s sustainability goals,” Nahman said.

Although new on campus, Nahman said she sees her position as an opportunity to both help the college leadership and the Office of Sustainability to grow into its commitment to the Climate Action Plan 2.0 that was passed last February, which committed the college to going carbon neutral by 2035.

“People have articulated a sense of urgency around the need for the college to act on climate change and climate adaptation and mitigation strategies,” Nahman said. “The Climate Action Plan is the best path forward for being able to do that.”

Nahman said she also hopes to expand the opportunities for engagement, both with students who are not already engaged in sustainability and with faculty who are interested in getting more involved.

“I am really looking forward to meeting additional faculty or ones that are interested in sustainability or would like to figure out where there is alignment between their interests of the work of the office,” Nahman said.

The Office of Sustainability is only a couple years old, with Nahman replacing the original Sustainability Director, Marie Fechik-Kirk.

“I see my most immediate step internally is to work with the office staff and the leadership to make sure that college is getting the most value and expertise and vision for sustainability as we’re able to provide,” Nahman said.