Global Alliance Releases SDGs Report
At the U.N.’s High Level Political Forum in New York earlier this July, a partnership of universities, colleges and sustainability networks called the Global Alliance released a report examining the global contribution of higher education to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The findings highlight the opportunities and challenges in embedding the SDGs in higher education, as well as higher education's commitment to increase its contributions to the SDGs. The report also shows the aspiration of students to learn more about the SDGs and the changing focus of young people as they start to prioritize social justice and environmental ethics.
Harvard U Adopts Sustainable IT Standards
The new standards focus on actionable recommendations that schools and departments can adopt in three core areas – waste, energy and practice – aimed at reducing the environmental impact of technology. The Sustainable IT Standards were created by the Green IT Working Group that comprises IT, operations and facilities professionals, in collaboration with the Office for Sustainability and Harvard University Information Technology.
U Pittsburgh Hires First Sustainability Director
As part of the university’s newly formalized sustainability plan, Aurora Sharrard will leave her post as executive director of the Green Building Alliance on July 1 to become the university’s first-ever director of Sustainability. Among the projects she helped to develop and oversee while at the Green Building Alliance were the Pittsburgh Climate Initiative, a coalition between local government, residents, higher education institutions and businesses to address the city’s climate change goals.
Education Dept. Announces 2018 Green Ribbon Schools
The U.S. Department of Education's 2018 Green Ribbon Schools program selected six postsecondary institutions, 46 schools, and six districts as honorees. They are being honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education.
Seattle Colleges Hires Associate Vice Presidents for Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
For the first time in the history of Seattle Colleges, all colleges have established campus diversity officers for equity, diversity and inclusion. These positions will report directly to their respective college presidents. Each position will be tasked to work collaboratively across the district and to help establish and monitor the equity and inclusion goals in the Seattle Colleges strategic plan. D’Andre Fisher is at North Seattle College; Betsy Hasegawa is at South Seattle College; and Valerie Hunt is at Seattle Central College.
Three Universities Win International Green Gown Awards
University of Tasmania (Australia) won in the Community category; Canterbury Christ Church University (U.K.) won in the Continuous Improvement: Institutional Change category: and Chiba University (Japan) won the Student Engagement category. The awards recognize exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities and colleges.
U Bath to Pay Voluntary Living Wage
(U.K.) The university is applying for formal accreditation from the Living Wage Foundation to reinforce its commitment to ensure salaries keep pace with the cost of living. The Living Wage Foundation announces living wage rates in the first week of November each year and, once accredited, the university will be committed to implementing that rate.
Harvard U Graduate Assistants Vote for Union
Graduate students at Harvard University voted 1,931 to 1,523 to form a union affiliated with the United Auto Workers. The election, held earlier this month, was the second on the union issue, as a 2016 vote proved inconclusive.
U Maryland Installs Wall of Plants in Library
In an effort to inspire creativity and support well-being, living plants now cover the surface of an interior wall at the university's McKeldin Library as part of a series of renovations to the library’s busy first floor. The bio-wall project was partially funded by students through the University Sustainability Fund.
U Illinois Chicago Releases Climate Action Implementation Plan
The new Climate Action Implementation Plan includes seven strategies that integrate the university's goals for carbon neutrality, zero waste, net zero water, and creating a biodiverse university. The strategies cover energy, transportation, natural systems and ecosystem services, materials and waste, curriculum and engagement, and climate resiliency. The portfolio of solutions will be implemented over the next 10 years through 2028.
Five Colleges Create Renewable Energy Partnership
Amherst, Bowdoin, Hampshire, Smith and Williams Colleges have formed the New England Colleges Renewable Partnership, an effort that will facilitate the development of additional solar electricity generation. The planned project will allow them to offset 46,000 megawatt-hours per year of their collective electrical needs from a new solar power facility to be built in Farmington, Maine.
Hampshire College Appoints a Sustainability Officer as President
Miriam E. Nelson, PhD. comes to Hampshire College as its seventh president from the University of New Hampshire, where she has served as deputy director of the Sustainability Institute since 2016. Prior to the UNH, Nelson spent over three decades at Tufts University where she served on the faculty and was chair of the faculty at Tisch College of Civic Life, founded the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, published over 100 scholarly papers and presented at hundreds of conferences nationally and overseas, and was health and nutrition adviser to the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, and Agriculture.
U California Davis Releases Growth Plan Alongside an Environmental Impact Report
The university recently released an updated Long Range Development Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR), which assesses the potential environmental impacts of the proposed development plan along with new housing projects. The goal of the new development scheme is to plan for future growth in programs while targeting environmental goals in areas such as energy and water use, transportation, and waste management.
Eastern Kentucky U Introduces Dockless Bike-Share System
Designed to help students get around the Richmond campus, the university recently contracted with LimeBike to introduce 100 brightly painted green and yellow bicycles at no cost to the university, with plans to increase the fleet to 250 in the upcoming weeks.
California State U System Creates Healthy Food Working Group
In an effort to offer healthier food options on campus for students, the California State Universities' Food Systems Working Group convened had its inaugural meeting in March. The meeting was attended by students, professors, technical experts, dining management staff, food producers and administrators from all 23 campuses and their respective communities. Their goal is to get more real food, defined as local- and community-based, fair trade, ecologically sound and humane, on CSU campuses.
Arizona State U Hosts 'Day Without Cars' Event
As part of a coordinated effort to further sustainable transportation efforts, nearly 400 university students and staff members signed a pledge to take an alternate, non-single occupancy vehicle mode of transit to campus on March 27.
U Dayton Hires Executive Director of Sustainability Institute
Ben McCall was selected to be the first executive director of the University of Dayton's Hanley Sustainability Institute. Currently a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, McCall helped develop a project to verify carbon credits from campus emission reductions, raising nearly $1.5 million for campus sustainability efforts. He also coordinated design of and fundraising for a biomass boiler system; advocated for the first wind energy power purchase agreement for the campus; and facilitated the initiation of a student-led program to convert used cooking oil from dining halls into biodiesel. His appointment begins in mid-August.
Mount Holyoke College Seeks Carbon Neutrality by 2037
The college's board of trustees recently announced the 2037 carbon neutrality goal, which is also the institution’s bicentennial. To achieve carbon neutrality, the college aims to invest in energy efficiency and conservation, retrofit historic buildings and transition to carbon-neutral heating and electricity sources. The decision to pursue carbon neutrality came after nearly a year of analysis and research by the college's Sustainability Task Force.
St. Lawrence U Publishes Campus Sustainability Map
The intention of the new map application is to provide the university community with information and locations related to sustainability points of interest on the main campus. The map allows viewers to navigate different layers of sustainability on campus ranging from where to bring organic waste to locations with renewable energy to information about outdoor air quality.
College of the Holy Cross to Phase Out Knight Mascot and Imagery
Noting that the visual depiction of a knight, in conjunction with the moniker Crusader, inevitably ties the college to religious wars and the violence of the Crusade, it will gradually phase out the use of all knight-related imagery. It will instead use the interlocking HC on a purple shield as the primary marker for all athletic teams, uniforms and advertising.
GUPES Announces 2017 Green Gown Awards Winners
The U.N. Environment Program and the Global Universities Partnership on Environment and Sustainability (GUPES) recently announced Chiba University in Japan as this year’s GUPES Green Gown Awards Winner for its pioneering Student Committee-led achievement of international Environmental and Energy Management Systems certifications, ISO 14001 and ISO 50001, respectively. A collective of five universities in Switzerland, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, University of Zurich, Zurich University of Teacher Education, Zurich University of the Arts, and Zurich University of Applied Sciences, won the Highly Commended Award for their Sustainability Week Zurich, a large student run sustainability project in Switzerland.
Durham U to Divest From Fossil Fuels
(U.K.) Following a year-long review of divestment options and the impact divestment would have on the university’s finances, the university’s highest governing body recently decided to withdraw financial investments from companies involved in fossil fuel extraction. These currently total less than $2.1 million (1.5 million British pounds).
U South Florida Adjuncts Form Union
Adjuncts at the university recently voted to form a union affiliated with Service Employees International Union. The tally was 326 in favor of unionization and 91 opposed, out of 900 part-time professors on the university’s three campuses eligible to vote.
Cameron U Establishes Social Change Endowed Lectureship
The establishment of the Albert Johnson Sr. and Josephine Johnson Endowed Lectureship in Social Change aims to advance the study of social justice, racial and ethnic cultures and human interaction. The funds will be used to bring distinguished lecturers and workshops to campus, to support faculty development related to civil rights and social justice, and to aid faculty and students in providing services to the community.
University of Maryland Green Terp Program Expands to 13 Residence Halls
The Office of Sustainability and the Department of Resident Life partnered to expand a one-year-old pilot program, Green Terps, into 13 dorms. The Green Terps program helps students adopt sustainable practices by asking them to pick 10 different sustainable behaviors and submit their progress. Once completed, their name is written on a pledge board in the lobby of their dorm.
Emory U, Georgia Tech & Spelman College Lead Regional Center for Expertise on Sustainability
Emory University, Georgia Institute of Technology and Spelman College will lead the newly designated regional sustainability network, RCE Greater Atlanta. Seven sustainable development goals were deemed to be priority for the Greater Atlanta region. Designated by the United Nations University, the Regional Centers of Expertise (RCE) on Education for Sustainable Development are networks of multidisciplinary stakeholders committed to implementing the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals at the local level. Other higher education institutions collaborating on the RCE Greater Atlanta include Agnes Scott College, Atlanta Metropolitan State College, Clark Atlanta University, Georgia State University, Kennesaw State University, Morehouse College and University of Georgia.
New York U Appoints Assistant Vice President for Sustainability
Cecil Scheib returns to NYU after nearly six years during which he served as the managing director of the Building Resiliency Task Force for the City of New York and chief program officer at Urban Green Council. He previously served as director of Energy and Sustainability at NYU from 2007 to 2012. Scheib holds a bachelor's degree in civil and environmental engineering from Stanford University, is a New York State licensed professional engineer, and is a LEED Accredited Professional.
U St. Thomas Hires First Sustainability Director
The university recently welcomed Amir Nadav as its new assistant director of campus sustainability. Nadav’s first task will be assessing the full scope of St. Thomas’ current sustainability work and using that to inform a sustainability plan.
Ohio Wesleyan U Adopts Sustainability Plan
The university's new sustainability plan was seeded by student research on sustainability initiatives at the university. It contains four overarching goals, each of which contains measurable objectives.
U Bergen Announces Plans to Go Carbon Neutral by 2030
(Norway) At a recent sustainable development goals conference held at the University of Bergen, the university announced a plan to become carbon neutral by 2030. It also committed to holding an annual Sustainable Development Goals conference.
U California Merced Releases Sustainability Plan
The university's new strategic sustainability plan highlights campus sustainability goals through 2022 and defines the roles of campus stakeholders. It was designed as a living document that will be reviewed at least annually, with a progress report that outlines accomplishments distributed each spring. Designed as a living document, it covers academics, research, engagement and operations, all of which have action items, metrics and implementation strategies.
Creighton U Welcomes Inaugural VP for Institutional Diversity & Inclusion
Christopher M. Whitt, Ph.D., joins the university this month as the its first vice provost for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion. Most recently, Whitt served as an associate professor and department chair in Political Science at Augustana College. He also founded and directed the Center for Inclusive Leadership and Equity at Augustana.
U Helsinki Establishes Institute of Sustainability Science
(Finland) The newly formed Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science seeks to solve global sustainability issues by focusing primarily on the study of cities, the global south and Arctic areas, systems of sustainable consumption and production, and the theory and methods of sustainability science. Ten new professorships are being established in conjunction with the new institute, connecting nearly 200 researchers from six different faculties.
AASHE Publishes 2017 Annual Report
AASHE’s recently released annual report details accomplishments and progress throughout 2017, spotlighting STARS, educational and professional development opportunities, the AASHE Sustainability Awards, the 2017 conference and expo, resources, a membership profile and information about two news initiatives launched last year – a mentorship program and the AASHE Affiliates program.
Bucknell U Names New Director of Sustainability Center
The Bucknell Center for Sustainability and the Environment's new director is Peter Mark Jansson, a Bucknell professor of electrical and computer engineering. Being active in many of the university's sustainability initiatives, Jansson is a co-founder of the Institute for Leadership in Sustainable Technology, an interdisciplinary experiential-learning summer program in which student teams act as sustainability consultants in residential and commercial settings. He is also an adviser to the Renewable Energy Scholars. His research and teaching interests include solar energy engineering, smart electric grids, sustainable transportation, and problems related to energy and the environment.
SUNY Announces Partnership to Support Clean Energy & Energy Efficiency Advancements
In her State of the University address earlier this year, SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson called for purchasing 100 percent of SUNY’s electricity from zero-carbon sources and deep energy retrofits at SUNY campuses, which represent 40 percent of state-owned buildings. To support this effort, she announced a partnership with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to support eligible SUNY campuses to develop energy master plans and provide access to on-site energy managers who can identify areas for improvement and engage in strategic planning and feasibility studies.
EAUC Releases Sustainability in Education Report
(U.K.) The Sustainability in Education report, recently released by the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC) and others, is based on research from a sample of 500 staff members from universities, colleges and students’ unions in the U.K. Some of the key findings include one in three respondents reported sustainability as a strategic priority for the institution they work at, up seven percent from 2016, yet one percent of respondents felt their institution was doing all it could to progress environmental and social responsibility.
U California Los Angeles Reduces Travel Emissions With Fee
A new university program reduces the impact of greenhouse gas emissions from university business-related air travel by assessing a carbon mitigation fee for these flights. A $9 fee will be applied to each domestic round-trip flight and a $25 fee to each international round-trip flight. Air travel mitigation fees will be placed into a fund, which will then be made available annually to the campus to finance university projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The pilot program will run from January 2018 through December 2020.
Northwestern U Earns LEED Platinum for School of Management Building
The university's new Kellogg School of Management building features a geothermal system, LED lighting throughout the facility and low-flow plumbing fixtures in restrooms and kitchens. Its landscaping is designed for efficient irrigation and contains plants that require minimal watering. The building's location offers occupants various forms of public transportation, and cyclists have access to bike racks, showers and changing rooms.
Western Washington U Releases Sustainability Action Plan
The new plan, which was drafted with campus-wide input including three public input sessions, will serve as the university’s roadmap for protecting local and global ecology, upholding social equity, creating economic vitality, and maintaining human health.
U Virginia to Facilitate Governor's Environmental Justice Panel
Representatives from UVA’s Institute for Environmental Negotiation will serve as facilitators for the 15-member Environmental Justice Advisory Council, established by Virginia Govenor Terry McAuliffe in October. The mission of the council is to ensure that environmental policies around major issues like air quality or sea-level rise serve the interest of every Virginian, and that no area or group bears a disproportionate share of the burden.
Boston U Approves Climate Action Plan
The Boston University board of trustees recently approved a Climate Action Plan that aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions across both the Charles River Campus and the Medical Campus and fund broad infrastructure improvements in preparation for flooding or heat surges in the coming decades. The plan calls for capital improvements estimated to cost about $141 million over 10 years and the reduction of carbon emissions on the campuses to zero by 2040.
Cornell U Launches Staff Sustainability Champions Program
The university's Employee Assembly and Campus Sustainability Office staff created the new recognition program as a way to capture and better recognize the hundreds of daily acts that staff demonstrate to reduce waste, create a more welcoming environment, save resources and champion new ideas for sustainability.
U Nottingham Agrees to Living Wage to Low-Paid Staff
(U.K.) Two weeks after protesters asked the university to pay a living wage, the university agreed to do so for the 2017-18 academic year. The agreement guarantees the lowest-paid staff 8.75 pounds ($11.72) an hour.
U Waterloo Publishes Environmental Sustainability Strategy
After two years of consultation and planning, the president's Advisory Committee on Environmental Sustainability released the university's first environmental sustainability strategy, which seeks to strengthen organizational sustainability across academics, operations, and student and employee engagement.
AASHE Asks Elected Officials to Protect the Graduate Student Tuition Waiver
AASHE has joined more than 30 other organizations in opposing the repeal of the Graduate Student Tuition Waiver that is included in the House of Representatives' Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1). Reclassifying these waivers as taxable income will significantly increase the cost of a graduate education and make it even more difficult for working class and low income students to pursue advanced degrees.
York U Releases Inaugural Institutional Sustainability Strategy
The university's first published sustainability strategy was led by a working group comprised of members of the university president’s Sustainability Council and included participation from more than 1,000 community members. The goals of the strategy are divided into three key categories: people, focusing on a culture of collaboration; knowledge, using its strengths in sustainability research to inform teaching; and place, creating a pedestrian-oriented campus.
McGill U Releases Climate & Sustainability Action Plan
In its new plan, the university commits to carbon neutrality by 2040 and sets a long-term goal of earning AASHE STARS Platinum by 2030. The result of an extensive consultation process, the plan includes offsetting air travel emissions and recruiting an Indigenous scholar or artist-in-residence.