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01.21.2013 - 01:04PM

Category: Research, Reports & Publications

UMass Dartmouth Students Complete Sustainability Report for Dartmouth

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A pair of UMass Dartmouth graduate students have completed a town-wide sustainability report based on rigorous international standards, possibly achieving a national first.

"We said 'Great, let's do something that will be memorialized forever,'" said David Gagne, who is finishing a master's in public policy and prepared the report alongside Robert Gagne, an MBA student, for a corporate social responsibility class.

The pair produced the report, done to Global Reporting Initiative standards, with more than 70 metrics ranging from efforts to purchase fuel-efficient town vehicles to creating new bike paths. The high number of subjects qualified it as an A-level report, a GRI's most thorough rating, David Gagne said.

The nonprofit GRI, based in Amsterdam, lays out a framework for organizations to conduct a thorough accounting of how sustainable they are, according to its website.

The 33-page report identified successes such as a drop in municipal water and electricity costs. It commended a number of initiatives such as the SouthCoast Bikeway — a project seeking to paint bicycle lanes throughout town — and the town's new automated recycling collection program as advances toward a more sustainable community.

The results were not all positive, however, and Select Board members pounced on the inclusion of the town's organizational chart, which they said shows how chaotic Dartmouth's municipal structure is.

The GRI report is possibly the first conducted for a town, said UMD business professor Adam J. Sulkowski, the Gagnes' instructor. Sulkowski said the report shows Dartmouth is being innovative in adopting a best practice from private industry.

"They might be ahead of a lot of organizations in terms of realizing that taking a pragmatic, full-spectrum evaluation of their performance could be the secret ... to longer term strategies that allow all stakeholders to thrive," he said.

UMass Dartmouth students also recently completed a citywide GRI report for Fall River.

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