Large organizations such as Temple University make many decisions every day with potential impacts on the environment. Students, faculty, and staff who live, work and study at Temple also take actions that, collectively, influence the health and sustainability of our community and global environment. To help create a culture and expectation of environmentally responsible action at all levels of Temple University, President Ann Weaver Hart appointed a Sustainability Task Force (STF) in 2007. The Task Force was comprised of students, faculty and staff. President Hart charged its members with, "... providing insights, counsel, and advice on current issues regarding environmental responsibility in large, urban universities; new and best-practice methods for addressing these issues, and possible actions Temple University might take toward creating and maintaining a sustainable campus environment."
In completing its work, the group was guided by four underlying principles:
- Promote a green campus culture;
- Foster practical, useful, and forward-looking change;
- Promote environmental literacy across the University;
- Make recommendations to the President.
In October of 2007, the Sustainability Task Force completed its report: Sustainability Task Force Report to the President
One of the recommendations of the Sustainability Task Force was to create an Office of Sustainability, which would be a new administrative unit to lead the university's efforts to foster a pervasive culture of sustainability throughout Temple. This new office was opened on July 1, 2008.
The office's first director was Sandra J. McDade, a Temple administrator for more than 30 years and a member of the University's Sustainability Task Force. The Office of Sustainability is responsible for assessing Temple’s sustainability efforts, studying best practices and recommending tangible short- and long-term actions the university should take to promote environmental responsibility and pursue sustainable practices. Originally under the portfolio of Vice President for Operations, William Bergman, but moved in 2011 to the Office of the University Architect, Margaret M. Carney, the Office of Sustainability incorporates sustainability principles into the university’s strategic, operational, academic and service priorities as well as developing new and more effective ways of collaborating with internal constituents, neighboring communities and regional partners.