Written by Michael Masukawa • Photography by Simon Hofman, Redferns • December 7, 2016
Administrators at the Berklee College of Music in Boston know that environmental sustainability is one of the largest crises that humanity faces in the 21st century. They also know that the actions of a major school of the arts can have an impact on what others think and do.
As a result, the school has made a commitment to energy and material efficiency that it hopes others will follow. The more environmentally aware each graduating artist is, the thinking goes, the greater the potential is for their future audiences to be aware as well.
Since 2006, the school has reduced its total energy consumption by eight percent. It has updated its lightning systems, installed efficient, automated heating and air conditioning and converted to more energy-friendly appliances. Aramark, which provides dining services for the school, offers vegan options, discounted reusable mugs, and reusable to-go containers. The company also composts food waste and only offers napkins made from 100% recycled paper.
Berklee has also diverted as much waste as possible from landfills in favor of recycling and composting. In 2014, the U.S Green Building Council awarded Berklee’s 160 Massachusetts Avenue building “LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification” in recognition of its environmentally efficient practices.
While these developments are fantastic taken as a microcosm, the long-term benefits extend beyond the campus. When Berklee makes an effort to be green, it encourages its students to do the same; and when those students become popular performers, at the very least it encourages them to avoid environmentally unfriendly messages. At best, it will encourage them to take a stand, and to encourage others to do the same.