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.
Colgate U Initiates Green Fund for Sustainability Projects
The university's new Green Revolving Loan Fund was seeded with $230,000 and aims to reduce the university’s carbon footprint. Funded projects must reduce carbon and provide a return on investment. Colgate has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2019, the university’s bicentennial.
Medical U South Carolina Converts Street to Greenway
The university and a team of partners are reclaiming a street on campus to establish it as a space for people to walk, sit and relax. Called the Charleston Medical District Greenway, it will become a natural area with trees and gardens that enables patients to heal more quickly, as well as a gathering place for people visiting and working in the hospitals.
Hampshire College Chronicles Its Mission-Based Endowment Investing
A case study released by Intentional Endowments Institute describes Hampshire College's policy and process for aligning its endowment investments with its nonprofit mission and values. The case study also reveals how the college developed its investment policies with staff and student engagement.
Corporate Knights Releases 2017 Greenest Campuses in Canada Index
A new index released in October used data from AASHE STARS (Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System) to produce a top 10 ranking of Canadian institutions of higher education. The ranking was based on 13 indicators: building area and clean air management, green certified building space, environment friendly dining certification, clean energy, Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool score, green purchases on cleaning products and office paper, green transportation, commuting, waste and water management, and sustainable investing.
U Virginia to Open Community Food Space
The Morven Food Lab at the university's Morven Farm will be both a physical space and an organizational structure that aims to bring together food-related initiatives across the university, including the UVA Food Collaborative, the University’s Sustainable Food Strategy Task Force, the Morven Summer Institute and the Morven Kitchen Garden, and from within the community.
U Washington Supports Labor Rights in New Nike Contract
With pressure from the student-led group United Students Against Sweatshops, the university signed a renegotiated contract with Nike that gives the Worker Rights Consortium the right to inspect Nike's overseas factories. Under the terms of the contract, Nike must withdraw orders from a factory if workplace violations are discovered and the company is unable to get the factory to agree to a remediation plan.
Portland State U Integrates Sustainability Mission Into Hiring Process
As part of the university’s ongoing effort to institutionalize sustainability into the culture of the campus community, Human Resources has added an environmental stewardship statement to all job postings and created an orientation video highlighting the university’s commitment to sustainability. The statement emphasizes PSU’s sustainability values and goals and states that employees will, “contribute to a culture of environmental stewardship, practice resource conservation, and actively work toward achieving long-term sustainability goals.”
U New Hampshire Launches New Carbon/Nitrogen Measurement Tool
The university recently announced the launch of the Sustainability Indicator Management and Analysis Platform (SIMAP), a tool that offers campuses an online platform for tracking, reporting and managing their carbon and nitrogen footprints. The platform will also help identify trends across campus sustainability by tracking and sharing aggregated campus sustainability data.
Princeton U Files Lawsuit Regarding DACA
In early November, Princeton University and Microsoft joined together to file a lawsuit against President Trump’s rescinding of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. A DACA-protected student at Princeton, Maria De La Cruz Perales Sanchez, is also listed as a plaintiff.
2017 Sustainable Campus Index Lists Top Performers
The 2017 Sustainable Campus Index recognizes top-performing colleges and universities in 17 sustainability impact areas and overall by institution type, as measured by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). Top performers overall by institution type are Appalachian State University (master’s); Nova Scotia Community College (associate); Stanford University (doctoral/research); and Sterling College (baccalaureate). Also included in the report are innovative and high-impact initiatives.
Bucknell U Launches Sustainability Website
As part of increased sustainability programming, the university recently launched its first sustainability website as resource to the campus community. The website serves as a centralized place for the campus community to explore the institution's academic, research, engagement and operational goals.
U California Berkeley Partners to Improve Animal Welfare Through Purchasing
Cal Dining at the University of California Berkeley and Farm Forward recently announced the launch of the Leadership Circle, a program that leverages the buying power of institutions to change the way animals are raised for food. Members of the Leadership Circle commit to purchase only third-party certified, higher-welfare products in at least one product category within two years.
AASHE Announces 2017 Sustainability Award Winners
Announced at the annual AASHE Conference & Expo, 10 awards were handed out to those that rose to the top in the juried program. The three award categories were Campus Sustainability Achievement, Student Sustainability Leadership and Campus Sustainability Research. There were 230 total entries in 2017.
Blackburn College to Meet 100% of Student Financial Need
The Blackburn Promise is a new program that meets the full amount of each individual student's financial need after they have paid their estimated family contribution as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Direct college costs covered by the Blackburn Promise financial aid package include tuition, fees, room and board.
Saint Joseph’s U & PRME to Develop Business Education Assessment Tool
In mid-October, Saint Joseph’s University’s Erivan K. Haub School of Business announced a partnership with the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) initiative. Both organizations will develop a new data analytics tool, the PRME SDG (Sustainable Development Goal) Dashboard, to assess business schools’ success in delivering socially and environmentally sustainable management education. The tool will measure the participating business schools’ fulfillment of the SDGs based on its curriculum, academic research, community and global outreach, and campus integration of the goals.
U Maryland Celebrates 2 MW Solar Carport Installations
More than 7,000 solar panels now sit atop Regents Drive, Terrapin Trail and Mowatt Lane parking garages, with a combined capacity of 2 megawatts. The project was funded by a $250,000 grant from the Maryland Energy Administration and matched funding from the university's Facilities Management.
Northwestern U Releases Inaugural Sustainability Plan
The comprehensive plan details the next five years of environmental stewardship at Northwestern, laying the groundwork for achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. The plan establishes goals to reduce energy consumption in campus facilities by 20 percent by 2020 (from a 2010 baseline); transition the campus fleet to run exclusively on renewable energy by 2030; and divert at least 50 percent of waste generated on campus from landfills by 2020.
U Maryland Releases Climate Action Plan 2.0
The updated climate action plan that outlines new strategies and priorities to help the university become carbon neutral by 2050 and integrate sustainability into educational and research efforts across campus.
U New Hampshire Earns STARS Platinum
The University of New Hampshire recently earned a Platinum rating in AASHE STARS, which measures sustainability achievements in academics, campus and community engagement, operations, and planning and administration. Some highlights of the university’s sustainability achievements include powering the main campus with 100 percent renewable energy and composting 25,000 pounds of food waste every month.
Insight Into Diversity Acknowledges 2017 HEED Award Recipients
This year's Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award was given to 80 higher education institutions, 15 of which were categorized as Diversity Champions by exemplifying an unyielding commitment to diversity and inclusion throughout their campus communities, across academic programs, and at the highest administrative levels.
Yale U Announces Academic Initiative to Improve Corporate Reporting
Recognizing the critical role that private capital flows will play in moving society toward a more sustainable future, the university recently launched a new academic effort to provide high-quality research on the flow of capital into sustainability-oriented projects and sustainable companies. Called the Yale Initiative on Sustainable Finance, the initiative will focus on three initial sustainable finance issues: impediments to the movement of mainstream capital into sustainability-related projects, needs of sustainability-minded investors, and standards in the sustainability bonds market.
Cornell U Launches Interactive Sustainability Campus & Community Map
The new interactive map features over 200 data points organized in topical map layers with sustainability features across campus, including green buildings, bottle water filling stations, bike-share and car-share locations, sustainability landscape sites, electric-vehicle charging stations, sustainability centers and institutes, and reuse centers. Through joint funding between the Campus Sustainability Office and the Office of Engagement Initiatives, the map was developed with living laboratory and engagement opportunities in mind.
U Winnipeg Announces Institutional Sustainability Strategy
The university's second five-year plan outlines four overarching sustainability goals and 19 targets to ensure those goals are met, including exceeding Canada’s commitments under the Paris Accord, deriving five percent of total campus energy from renewable energy sources, and establishing a baseline and reduction target for emissions resulting indirectly from university activities, such as waste, paper use and air travel.
Pomona College Releases 2030 Carbon Neutrality Plan
The college's new plan, known as SAVE: Sustainable Action Visible Effects, strives for carbon neutrality by 2030 through energy, water, waste, transportation, buildings, and landscaping and food initiatives. The college intends to reach net-zero carbon emissions without purchasing carbon credits, but rather by reducing its greenhouse gas emissions to zero and then offsetting remaining emissions by retrofitting buildings, installing solar panels, investing in off-site renewables and promoting alternative transportation programs. The plan was crafted by the Office of Sustainability and the President's Advisory Committee on Sustainability.
EAUC Launches Sustainable Development Goals Accord
The SGD Accord supports the critical role that education has in delivering the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Signatories of the pact, which AASHE and many other organizations have endorsed, commit to implement the goals, annually report on progress, and share best practices and experiences.
AASHE Releases 2017 Higher Education Sustainability Staffing Survey Report
The 2017 staffing survey report examines sustainability positions at colleges and universities. It presents insights into salaries, funding, supervision, job satisfaction and challenges. For the first time, the report includes information from outside of the U.S. and Canada, and graphical data comparisons.
Virginia Private Colleges Receive Solar Energy Funding
The Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia (CICV) has been awarded more than $807,000 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative to help 16 member colleges develop comprehensive plans for implementing solar power on their campuses. The three-year program is designed to help the colleges navigate the legal, regulatory and technical challenges associated with installing solar systems, leverage group purchasing power, and create a learning network accessible by other organizations considering solar power.
APPA Sustainability Awards Given to Five Schools
APPA, previously known as the Association of Physical Plant Administrators, honored the following schools with its 2017 Sustainability Award: Arizona State University, The Ohio State University, San Mateo County Community College District, University of British Columbia, and University of Washington Bothell. The Sustainability Award is designed to recognize and advance sustainability in educational facilities.
North Carolina State U Adopts Sustainability Strategic Plan
After more than 18 months of cross-campus planning, input and analysis, the NC State Sustainability Council has completed development of the university's next five-year Sustainability Strategic Plan, guiding sustainability efforts through 2022.
Princeton Review Releases 2018 Green Honor Roll
The 2018 Green Honor Roll spotlights 24 schools that received the highest score in the Green Rating tallies this year out of 629 schools. This rating, on a scale of 60–99, looks at students quality of campus life, student preparation for a clean energy economy and citizenship, and the school's policies as they relate to environmental responsibility.
Stanford U Earns STARS Platinum
Earlier this month, Stanford University earned a Platinum rating in the Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS), which measures sustainability achievements in academics, campus and community engagement, operations, and planning and administration. Stanford joins Colorado State University as the only two higher education institutions to achieve STARS Platinum.