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Integrating ecological objectives in university campus strategic and spatial planning: a case study

Daniel Eli Orenstein (Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel)
David Troupin (Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel)
Ella Segal (Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel)
Jennifer M. Holzer (Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel)
Gili Hakima-Koniak (Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 6 March 2019

Issue publication date: 23 May 2019

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present a case study of how ecological considerations can be integrated into campus strategic and statutory spatial planning. A process of developing ecological objectives and guidelines for inclusion in campus strategic and statutory spatial plans is presented.

Design/methodology/approach

This case study introduces a three-phase ecological assessment process developed and applied to the Technion – IIT campus. Ecological considerations are reviewed in multiple campus strategic and spatial plans (primarily in North America and Europe) and in institutional sustainability guidelines; biodiversity and ecosystem service surveys of the campus are conducted and considered with regard to planning; university administrative structures that enable the implementation of ecological planning guidelines are also assessed.

Findings

Ecological considerations (biodiversity conservation, habitat preservation and ecosystem integrity) play a relatively minor role in sustainability planning on university campuses. The concepts of connectivity and compactness are applied broadly, but generally refer to social and educational considerations. Physical planning provides an opportunity for integrating ecological priorities into the university’s mission.

Research limitations/implications

Some of the insights may not be generalizable, so it is crucial to continue accumulating similar studies. It is crucial, too, to conduct follow-up research, reporting on the ecological outcomes of plan implementation.

Practical implications

Ecological stewardship is commensurate with the sustainability commitments of universities. Considering their spatial extent and diverse locations, universities can assume an important role in ecological conservation.

Originality/value

Relatively little attention has been given to ecological considerations (biodiversity, ecological integrity and ecosystem services) in campus plans and sustainability documents. This paper suggests how universities can move towards fulfilling a role as ecological stewards through strategic and spatial planning.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors thank Lisa Darrigo for her insights regarding the administration of campus sustainability programs. They thank Professor Shamay Assif, Professor Yael Moria, Arch. Vera Tsubari, Dorit Garfunkel and their planning teams for their attention, insights and concern for the integration of ecological principles into the Technion planning process. They also thank many participants of the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences (AESS) list-serv for their feedback and responses to our queries. Funding for research assistance was provided by an internal Technion grant.

Citation

Orenstein, D.E., Troupin, D., Segal, E., Holzer, J.M. and Hakima-Koniak, G. (2019), "Integrating ecological objectives in university campus strategic and spatial planning: a case study", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 20 No. 2, pp. 190-213. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-12-2017-0219

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited