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Policies and Plans

The topics in this section deal with campus greening policies and organizational goals and procedures.


  • Environmental Policies
  • Environmental Committees
  • Sustainability

On many campuses, an environmental committee has been appointed whose purpose is to identify and initiate improvements in environmental management. Such groups invariably have projects they need help with, and trying to start up a committee on your campus could be a project in itself.

Increasingly, colleges and universities are looking at the larger issues of long-term "green" planning and environmental sustainability, and much work is needed to shift toward these challenging goals.


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  • Policy development. Find out if environmental responsibility is mentioned in existing policies or mission statements. If it is, has it influenced decision-making and can compliance be improved? If not, is there interest at the department, school or college level to create such policies? Search for examples at other colleges and universities.
  • Green contracting. Examine the contracts and purchasing system for vendors who supply food, office supplies, furniture, vehicles and other products to your school. Help re-write contracts to ensure that environmentally preferable alternatives are used for packaging reduction, reusable shipping containers, pollution prevention and other green goals.



Rutgers University—New Brunswick, NJ
Contracting for Environmental Improvement—In the past, vendors contracted to provide goods and services to Rutgers under standard business terms. That meant when they delivered their products to a loading dock, they drove away with no further thought about any associated wastes and hazards. Any environmental problems down the line would be the university's, not theirs. That business-as-usual approach cost Rutgers millions in handling and disposal costs—but no longer.

Kevin Lyons of Rutgers' Purchasing Division, has helped institute a whole new way of doing business on campus. Under the university's innovative Environmental Contract Management (ECM), all contracts now contain language requiring all vendors to help the university minimize waste and maximize environmental responsibility.

Using techniques such as life cycle analysis, Lyons has set up systems to track nearly all goods coming into and leaving the three Rutgers campuses. Before a contract is awarded, an agreement must be reached that stipulates the vendor's responsibility to minimize or remove wastes. Contracting under ECM ties directly into Rutgers' role in protecting the environment and educating environmentally literate citizens, and Lyons notes that contracts can reflect a university's values. Many students work with him and are on the lookout for new environmental opportunities.

To make environmental procurement policies cost-effective, Lyons also works with campus engineers and scientists to design products and systems that are better than conventional versions. He pioneered the use of reusable blankets for shipping office furniture, for example, significantly cutting the amount of cardboard used.

Source: Excerpt from Green Investment, Green Return: How Practical Conservation Projects Save Millions on America's Campuses, by David J. Eagan and Julian Keniry, 1998, p. 66.

University of Buffalo—Buffalo, NY
Multiple Campus Environmental Policies—In 1990 the Environmental Task Force (ETF) of the University at Buffalo (UB) was organized. One of its primary tasks was development of campus environmental policies. Generally, these policies were drafted and refined by the ETF in consultation with campus organizations and decision-making bodies. All policies became official campus policy when approved by either the UB President or Senior Vice President.

While these policies are a step in the right direction, implementation is another matter. Implementation relies on informed, voluntary cooperation by members of the University. Thus, implementation is uneven. We keep trying! Here are the policies that exist as of 1999:

  • Environmentally Sound Products Procurement
  • Campus/Work Production Processes
  • Campus Newspaper
  • Campus Mail
  • Campus Telephone Directory
  • Regional Telephone Directory
  • Third-Class Bulk Rate Advertising Mail
  • Air Conditioning
  • Campus Heating
  • Campus Wildlife
  • Senior Officers Conservation Policies and Procedures
  • Smoke-Free
  • Recycling
  • Electric Purchasing


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  • Create a school-wide committee. Many colleges and universities have environmental committees whose task is to identify opportunities for conservation, safety improvements, environmental education and other green-oriented changes. Learn from the experiences of others and develop a core of committed staff, faculty, administrators and students.
  • Start an office or departmental eco-team. Many accomplishments can be achieved on a small scale. Organize a department or even a small group of employees into an "eco-team" to identify and address workplace resource conservation issues. See the Global Action Plan's explanation of household eco-teams and adapt it to your group.


University of Buffalo—Buffalo, NY
Environmental Task Force - In response to a student and faculty request, the University at Buffalo (UB) Environmental Task Force (ETF) was formed in 1990 by Senior Vice Present Robert Wagner with approval from the UB President. The original goals of the ETF were to:

  • Identify and assess UB's impact on the natural environment.
  • Develop strategies for reducing that impact.
  • Evaluate UB's compliance with existing and proposed environmental laws and regulations, and determine cost of implementation where non-compliance existed.

Since 1990 the ETF has developed and obtained administrative approval for numerous campus environmental policies. The ETF has also conducted a variety of green campus projects and lent critical support to campus recycling and energy conservation efforts. Current concerns of the ETF include community oriented public service projects and campus-wide environmental awareness and eco-literacy. The ETF is comprised of about 25 staff, faculty and student members and receives strong support from University Facilities, especially the Facilities' UB Green Office.

The ETF generally has monthly meetings of the whole task force in addition to separate subcommittee or working group meetings. The Environmental Task force is always looking for new members and ideas. Meeting minutes are available online from 1994 to present.

Source: website

University of Vermont—Burlington, VT
The UVM Environmental Council, a group of 16 faculty, staff, students, and alumni, meets monthly to explore questions such as: How can UVM further reduce its use of electricity? What pesticides are safe for landscaping? How can UVM raise money for trees lost in the January 1998 ice storm? What are the options for alternative fuel systems in vehicles? The Council invites staff to report on their departments' efforts and challenges in addressing environmentally related areas such as transportation, energy conservation, campus planning, and laboratory safety. Students give formal presentations on research and project ideas, including a student-run cafe featuring local, organic foods, and university farm and forest lands planning. Committees focus on defining best environmental practices in such areas as custodial cleaning products and electrical energy purchasing.

The Environmental Council's Goals for 1998 to 2000 are to work with others on campus to:

  • Develop a campus-wide tree planting effort to replace ice-damaged trees
  • Launch a paper reduction campaign
  • Facilitate development of an Integrated Pest Management plan for landscaping
  • Create an environmentally oriented purchasing policy
  • Investigate alternative fuels for campus public transit and fleet vehicles
  • Coordinate environmentally related staff research needs with student academic projects
  • Establish a network of "Campus Environmental Contacts"
  • Publish an ecologically informative map of UVM
  • Support education efforts about laboratory safety and environmental impacts
  • Generate a list of sustainability indicators for UVM
  • Conduct a "green office" workshop and certification program


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  • Talloires declaration. The Talloires Declaration is a 1990 declaration of principles for universities and their leaders to commit to environmental sustainability. For text of declaration, click here. If your school is not a signatory, try to build support for signing among top administration. (See list of schools.) Use the 10 goals to stimulate discussion, projects, and action plans.
  • Sustainability initiatives. Using sustainability indicators and other resources as your guide, work toward achieving the goal of sustainability in one or more areas of university operations.


  • Association of University Leaders for a Sustainable Future (ULSF)—ULSF is an international member organization of signatories to the Talloires Declaration (pronounced "tal-whar"). ULSF promotes academic leadership for the advancement of global environmental literacy. Working in partnership with more than 270 signatory institutions in over 40 countries, ULSF helps to build and strengthen institutional capacity to develop ecologically sound policies and practices, and to make sustainability a major focus of academic disciplines, research initiatives, operations systems, and outreach efforts of higher-education institutions worldwide.
  • Second Nature EFS Profiles—The EFS Profiles database outlines 160 sustainability initiatives of higher education institutions underway on their campuses and in their communities. Individual profiles document their efforts and accomplishments in community involvement, curriculum change, greening the campus, institutional transformation and sustainability research.
  • Sustainable Development on Campus Resource Links—This is compilation is sponsored by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). It contains WWW links to campus planning, an annotated bibliography of reports and guides, and links to listserves and environmental organizations. See also IISD's main Sustainable Development on Campus site for additional resources.


University of British Columbia—Vancouver, British Columbia
Campus Sustainability Office Offers a Bold Vision for the Future—The Campus Sustainability Office at the University of British Columbia aims to promote, coordinate, and implement the most effective sustainability practices, on campus and around the world. By harnessing UBC's immense physical and intellectual resources, they are working to bring positive solutions for today's ecological challenges closer. Their mission is:

  • To develop, with active participation from the campus community, an environmentally responsible campus that is economically viable and reflects the values of campus community members.
  • To ensure integration of ecological, economic and social considerations at all levels of strategic planning, development and operations within the university.
  • To work toward a sustainable future in cooperation with external organizations such as the GVRD and the City of Vancouver.
  • To assist UBC to assume a leadership role, through practicing sustainable development and instilling sustainable development values in its graduates and employees, through research, teaching, and operations.

Programs to develop sustainable levels of material flows, water and energy use, food consumption are in progress. And a vision of the campus as a "green" village in the year 2020 is offered.


Georgia Institute of Technology—Athens, GA
Sustainability a Major Theme in Curriculum and Campus Master Plan—Our worldviews, or mind-sets are shaped in part by what we experience in our daily lives. We believe that in order to advance our thinking—and our behavior—towards more sustainable practices, we need to practice them ourselves. Nothing kills a movement like hypocrisy among its leaders; students, faculty and staff know this, and so do our partners in the community. This isn't to say we will be perfect; it's part of the mind-set of sustainability that we will evolve towards a more sustainable state.

Our evolution will be guided by the Georgia Tech campus master plan, which was developed last year and built around the theme of sustainability. In fact, the "overarching vision" of the plan is that the Tech campus "should be a sustainable environment within which the use of land, design of facilities and methods and operation are conducted within established principles of sustainability."

Over the next 15 years, we will reduce the number of cars coming to our campus, make walking and cycling more appealing and convenient, and restore a natural area for stormwater management. Ambitious plans like these require strategic thinking if we are to become a more sustainable society. Hopefully our future will include energy conservation, smart sustainable design, and an expansion of the use of renewable forms of energy. Right now, Georgia Tech is home to one of the largest rooftop solar energy systems in the world.

Curriculum. Because we cannot give the impression that sustainability is something someone can elect to do, or that it is something that someone else should do, Georgia Tech is committed to a multi-year effort to transform the curriculum. In order to achieve our vision—that every graduate understands his or her role in creating a more sustainable society—we will move the concepts of sustainability into the core of the curriculum, into the required courses so that students' understanding of sustainability evolves with their understanding of their discipline.

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