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Yale Green?

Going green.  Minimizing environmental impacts.  Reducing carbon footprints.  These are some of the latest catch phrases used by the media when describing sustainability and environmental awareness.  In a world facing global climate change, increasing scarcity of some natural resources, and skyrocketing energy prices, these words seem to be on everybody's minds.  It's nearly impossible to read a newspaper or newsfeed without encountering these phrases on a daily basis.

These catch phrases have certainly been thrown around at the University.  The past few years at the University have seen the creation of the Yale Office of Sustainability, the introduction of a sustainable, locally-grown menu at one of the residential college dining halls, the purchasing of a fleet of biodiesel busses for the campus shuttle system, and numerous other initiatives and programs aimed at making Yale greener.

In his welcome to the students at the beginning of the term, Dean Koh outlined some of the sustainability initiatives underway at the Law School.  Most notably he challenged the Law School community with task of maintaining its current carbon footprint as it moves into its second site across the street from the Sterling Law Building (effectively doubling its physical footprint) and announced the creation of the "Green Team," a group of administrations working with the Yale Environmental Law Association and other students to develop programs and strategies for reducing the Law School's impact on the environment.

One of the first programs to come from the Green Team is the green small group challenge.  Law School staff is teaming up with the 1L small groups to develop and work on innovative green projects over the course of the fall term.  At the end of the term each small group's project will be judged on environmental impact, creativity and innovation, community connectivity, feasibility, and cost-effectiveness.  The winning small group will be invited to share a sustainable meal at Dean Koh's home at the beginning of the spring term.

In addition to the initiatives outlined by Dean Koh, Yale Law School hosted its first carbon neutral commencement last year.  The Class of 2007 celebrated its graduation in a environmentally friendly fashion by offsetting the greenhouse gas emissions of the guests who travelled to New Haven for the celebration.

In the midst of these new initiatives and increased environmental awareness at the University, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that the University has historically been a very "green" place.  The Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (FES) was the first school of forestry in the country (it celebrated its 100th birthday a few years ago).  In addition to cutting-edge research in environmental science, FES provides national and international leadership in environmental education, management, and policy.  Law students interested in environmental law take advantage of the rich curricular offerings of FES to supplement their courses at the Law School.  FES and the Law School share a relationship beyond simply being located at the same university.  In addition to cross registration of courses and joint degrees with FES, programs such as the Environmental Protection Clinic at the Law School operate in conjunction with FES.  In fact, their dean, Gus Speth, is a graduate not of FES, but of the Law School!

Whether you're interested in studying environmental law and policy or simply wanting to live a more environmentally friendly existence during your three years of law school, Yale blue is green.