Colleges and universities that adopt the attractive but abstract goal of sustainability are intellectually honest only if they go on to devise operational approaches to meet that goal. Improved environmental performance is laudable, but may or may not be equivalent to sustainability. This paper proposes and discusses five areas in which college and university performance can be definitely linked with sustainability: energy use, water use, use of land, purchase of products and treatment of them at the end of their useful lives, and emissions to air, water, and land. For each, a quantitative target can be defined and defended. Colleges and universities that meet these targets can legitimately call themselves “sustainable”.
Graedel, T.E. (2002), "Quantitative sustainability in a college or university setting", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 3 No. 4, pp. 346-358. https://doi.org/10.1108/14676370210442382
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