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The Office of Sustainability was founded in January 2008 upon the recommendation of former Chancellor Sylvia Manning’s Task Force on Campus Sustainability. It is lead by the Associate Chancellor for Sustainability and supported by a team of staff, graduate assistants, interns, undergraduate recycling assistants, and volunteers.

OSFocusLensOur office forms the focal point for coordinating sustainability initiatives on campus by receiving information, tracking data, and assessing progress. This is accomplished through involvement in institutional and programmatic planning, information dissemination, providing guidance, reporting, and acting as a resource on sustainability in higher education.

What is Sustainability?

According to the US EPA, sustainable development joins two important themes: that environmental protection does not negate economic growth and that economic growth must not be detrimental to the planet now or in the future. The term “sustainability” came into common use after the 1987 publication of the World Commission on Environment and Development report, Our Common Future. Otherwise known as the Brundtland Report, it defined sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Sustainability encompasses the three intersecting circles of ideas, aspirations, and values that continue to motivate organizations to become better stewards of the environment, promote positive economic growth, and set social objectives.

What is a Sustainable University?

One definition of a sustainable university, is “a higher educational institution, that addresses, involves and promotes, on a regional or a global level, the minimization of negative environmental, economic, societal, and health effects generated in the use of their resources in order to fulfill its functions of teaching, research, outreach and partnership, and stewardship in ways to help society make the transition to sustainable lifestyles.”