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Book part
Publication date: 27 May 2020

Angelique Pilon, John Madden, James Tansey and John Metras

Over the last 30 years, the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada has advanced sustainable development on campus and created a culture of sustainability

Abstract

Over the last 30 years, the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada has advanced sustainable development on campus and created a culture of sustainability, with ambitious goals, and strong collaborative relationships. Launched in 2010, the Campus as a Living Laboratory (CLL) initiative utilizes the campus buildings and infrastructure as opportunities for research, teaching, and learning. Projects under the CLL bring together academic researchers, students, staff, and partners to demonstrate, test, research, and learn from new ideas for sustainable development. These projects range in scale from small and discrete educational or research projects, often led by students, to the design and construction of innovative buildings, with multiyear interdisciplinary research programs. CLL projects are opportunities for UBC students to engaged in applied research and learning that enhances their educational experience at the university, and may serve as models for other universities interested in expanding sustainable development on their campuses.

Details

Teaching and Learning Strategies for Sustainable Development
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78973-639-7

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 27 August 2021

Gavin Melles, Stefan Lodewyckx and Thangatur Sukumar Hariharan

This study provides a country-specific and sector-wide study of campus sustainability. Campus sustainability is a key consideration for the higher education (HEI) sector…

Abstract

Purpose

This study provides a country-specific and sector-wide study of campus sustainability. Campus sustainability is a key consideration for the higher education (HEI) sector, and campus sustainability officers and managers manage its reporting and planning. Global and country-specific studies to date have focussed on individual organisation narratives, interviews with faculty and management and content analysis of reports and plans. Findings show wide divergence on scope and scale of formalised planning and reporting, few references to sustainability officers and managers’ perspectives and limited reference to organisational theory to explain tactics and strategies adopted. As a result, there are a few country-specific and sector-wide studies. The purpose of this paper is to address the scarcity of country-specific and sector-wide studies into campus sustainability practices in HEI by combining qualitative and quantitative analysis.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors provide the first sector-wide overview of formal campus sustainability commitments for the Australian public sector HEI (n = 41) in terms of several key indicators – plans, reports and other indicators. Second, the authors use reflexive thematic analysis of interviews (n = 21) with current and former sustainability officers and managers to examine sector organisational reasons for such variation. Third, the authors analyse HEI sector isomorphism and divergence on planning and reporting of campus sustainability from the perspective of institutional theory of organisations.

Findings

This study finds some convergence on the need for plans, reporting and other engagement elements, albeit without any sector-wide standards being followed. The authors observe a trend towards carbon-neutral (CN) declarations before 2030 although with nuances on emissions scope and increasing inclusion of renewable energy. Interviews identify a range of strategies and tactics adopted for campus sustainability relative to internal and external organisational pressures. Overall, the sector still exhibits weak institutionalisation of sustainability.

Research limitations/implications

This study interviews a specific and limited cohort (n = 21) and presents an overview of sector reporting, planning and target setting although not a detailed content analysis. Other interview cohorts may have different views on the strategic and tactical purposes of reporting practices, and more in-depth analysis of formal plans and reports should be conducted in the future.

Practical implications

This study concludes that the Australian HEI sector should consider greater public transparency of its data and reporting actions. Common standards and a benchmarking platform for the sector would improve overall engagement with all internal and external stakeholders. At present, the HEI sector’s message to its key internal and external stakeholders is mixed and needs to change towards a more in-depth institutionalisation of sustainability on campus.

Originality/value

Particular insights are the value of organisational strategies and tactics as an interpretive framework for HEI campus sustainability and how interviewees attribute sector competitors and self-different motives and tactics. Albeit limited, this is the first mapping of sector approaches to sustainability reporting and planning.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 23 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 28 May 2020

Stacey Swearingen White

College and university campuses serve as a vital test bed for sustainability solutions of various types. To date, though, campus sustainability efforts have focused more…

Abstract

Purpose

College and university campuses serve as a vital test bed for sustainability solutions of various types. To date, though, campus sustainability efforts have focused more on the environmental and economic aspects of sustainability, with less attention to its social aspects. This paper aims to draw on a study of student food insecurity to consider how sustainability’s three pillars might be more holistically engaged.

Design/methodology/approach

First, the paper reviews the literature on-campus food sustainability and student food insecurity to propose a preliminary characterization of sustainable food. Second, data from a study of food insecurity among students at a major research university are presented. The survey data measure the degree and attributes of food insecurity among undergraduate and graduate students. The focus group and interview data provide a detailed understanding of students’ experience with food insecurity, particularly with regard to how that experience resonates with the characteristics of sustainable food. Finally, the paper suggests that the systems thinking approach may be the best way to engage the social pillar of sustainability.

Findings

Food insecurity is prevalent among university students. These students find affordability and nutrition to be the most important characteristics of the diets they desire to have. The ability to access such foods conveniently is also important, whereas the sourcing of foods is not resonant.

Research limitations/implications

This is a study of a single campus in the USA. Findings may be different on campuses that have different demographics and other characteristics.

Originality/value

Campus sustainability efforts must fully engage the social aspects of sustainability. This paper uses the example of food and food insecurity to show how and why this is important. It also points to systems thinking approach as appropriate for this holistic effort.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 21 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

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Article
Publication date: 6 January 2012

Kevin J. Krizek, Dave Newport, James White and Alan R. Townsend

The purpose of this paper is to describe four phases for how universities have addressed a sustainability agenda and offer specific lessons for how and where experiences…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe four phases for how universities have addressed a sustainability agenda and offer specific lessons for how and where experiences on one campus, the University of Colorado Boulder, have been met with success and other challenges. The authors offer general reflections for executing university‐wide sustainability initiatives with a central intent of illuminating central barriers against, and incentives for, a coordinated and integrated approach to campus sustainability.

Design/methodology/approach

The approach for arriving at four phases and a description of the University of Colorado Boulder is based on experiences from learning, teaching, and administering within universities–collectively for almost a century among the authors–and lessons from “war room” discussions.

Findings

Sustainability initiatives on campus may evolve through a series of phases labeled: grassroots; executive acceptance of the business case for sustainability; the visionary campus leader; and fully self‐actualized and integrated campus community. The University of Colorado Boulder, while a leader in many respects of sustainability (research, student activities, facilities management) has experienced serious challenges for coordination.

Originality/value

The four phases are a relatively novel contribution for the specific literature on sustainability education. Second, the tangible examples from University of Colorado Boulder demonstrate how coordination is difficult in these situations; these examples allow readers to better relate to and understand such challenges. Finally, the authors reflect on central issues according to three categories: self‐reflection, recommendations, and advantages.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 13 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 6 July 2015

Panagiotis Petratos and Evangelia Damaskou

The purpose of this paper is to describe and analyze the effects of campus sustainability planning to annual campus energy inflows and outflows in California higher…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe and analyze the effects of campus sustainability planning to annual campus energy inflows and outflows in California higher education. The paper also offers a preliminary statistical analysis for the evaluation of impact factors on energy outflows and a link between energy outflows and building utilization.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper reports two campus examples University of California Merced and California State University Stanislaus, analyzing 36-months’ campus energy outflows data. It uses statistical linear regression analysis to determine the most significant impact factors to energy outflows and what is their relationship. Finally, the paper draws on building utilization data and presents sustainability management strategies for campus energy conservation which make the most of building utilization and contributes to campus sustainability planning efforts.

Findings

Statistics analysis considered ten multiple models of linear regression to identify the greatest impact factors on campus energy outflows. Interestingly, the overshadowing positive impact factor is renewable energy credits (RECs) which is expected as is required by California energy law. After removing RECs, cost of RECs and cost of electricity from further statistical analysis, we re-compute linear regression for the remaining variables, and natural gas outflows have the strongest – negative – relationship with energy outflows. In this study, it is demonstrated how sustainability planning applies to campus green building design criteria; how much do sustainable campus buildings cost; how sustainability planning affects the inflows and outflows of energy during the period of one academic year; and what are the direct benefits of campus sustainability planning and design to faculty, students, staff, administrators, environment and society.

Research limitations/implications

The research is focused on two campus examples in California higher education and may have overlooked some campus sustainability plans and energy data from other California campuses. Nevertheless, it is a fairly comprehensive analysis of campus sustainability planning efforts and their effects on energy conservation.

Practical implications

Campus sustainability plans and their effect on campus energy inflows and outflows are very important. Understanding the details and potential effects of impact factors to energy conservation can help broader adoption and implementation of sustainability planning.

Originality/value

As an emerging method for campus sustainability efforts, statistical analysis of multiple linear regression models allows colleges and universities to examine energy conservation and align it with campus sustainability planning operational, academic and administrative functions in an integrated manner. To date, very little scholarly attention has been paid to the effects of sustainability planning on campus-level energy conservation, and no prior attempt has been made to consider how they might be analyzed statistically.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 16 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 April 2014

Stacey Swearingen White

The purpose of this paper is to describe and analyze the use of integrated campus sustainability plans at US institutions of higher education. The paper also offers a…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe and analyze the use of integrated campus sustainability plans at US institutions of higher education. The paper also offers a preliminary framework for the evaluation of these plans.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper examines 27 campus sustainability plans. It determines the types and characteristics of the institutions that have adopted these plans. It then uses content analysis techniques to determine their typical contents and emphases. Finally, the paper draws on literature pertaining to sustainability plans and plan evaluation to present a preliminary tool for evaluating campus sustainability planning efforts.

Findings

Campus sustainability plans in the USA are extremely diverse. Environmental aspects are most prominent in these plans, and social equity aspects are least prominent. Campus operations receive more attention than do academic or administrative aspects. Most campuses have taken an inclusive, campus-wide approach to developing their sustainability plans. The evaluation of these plans should consider both their process and their substance and should account for circumstances unique to higher education.

Research limitations/implications

The research is focused on US colleges and universities and may have overlooked some campus sustainability plans that have other titles. Nevertheless, it is a fairly comprehensive analysis of campus sustainability planning efforts to date in the USA.

Practical implications

Campus sustainability plans are an important integrative tool. Understanding the details and potential evaluation of these plans can help determine their broader adoption and implementation.

Originality/value

As an emerging tool for campus sustainability efforts, sustainability plans allow colleges and universities to examine operational, academic, and administrative functions in an integrated manner. To date, there has been very little scholarly attention to these plans, and no prior attempt to consider how they might be evaluated.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 15 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 4 September 2017

Ellen R. Trahan, Leslie A. North, Margaret M. Gripshover and Jeanine M. Huss

This paper aims to explore the development narrative and usage of environmental sustainability tours available at universities and takes an in-depth look into the Western…

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to explore the development narrative and usage of environmental sustainability tours available at universities and takes an in-depth look into the Western Kentucky University (WKU) Green Tour.

Design/methodology/approach

Questionnaires and interviews were conducted with sustainability leaders involved in tours at their university to discover how they were developed and used. An assessment of the WKU Green Tour used surveys and pre- and post-tests to determine the reach of the tour to the campus population, student learning and faculty use.

Findings

There is a lack of data on sustainability tours, making it difficult to design new tours and validate their status as an essential tool. In the case of WKU, the need for data was confirmed, as current practices that were assumed to be effective proved ineffective. Multiple suggestions for improved tours are provided.

Research limitations/implications

The case study used in this paper is not representative of all university sustainability tours as they can vary widely. Given the lack of research on the subject, especially quantitative research, it is a valuable study.

Practical implications

Though sustainability tours are touted as a valuable tool for all campuses, more data are needed to validate this claim. Data suggest the tours are effective tools for increasing knowledge, but there is need for further assessment of tours and how they can be used to create a sustainably literate campus.

Originality/value

This study is the first to assess sustainability tours using mixed-methods.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 18 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 20 September 2011

Nancy B. Kurland

The purpose of this paper is to examine the evolution of a sustainability network at a large California public university, as an example of organizational change.

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the evolution of a sustainability network at a large California public university, as an example of organizational change.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper combines participant observation and case study techniques over a three‐year period. From 2007 to 2010, the author helped found the university's Institute for Sustainability and sat on both the Institute's first Advisory Board and the university's first Core Green Team. The author also interviewed 19 key informants to the sustainability network, including upper administrators, physical plant management (PPM) staff, faculty, and students.

Findings

This campus sustainability initiative evolved over three decades in three phases. Phase I evolved from the 1980s in facilities management and student recycling because of changing environmental demands, the 1994 Northridge earthquake, and strong leadership who believed in developing human resources. In Phase II, faculty and Academic Affairs established the Institute for Sustainability. Phase III examines the current state at May 2010. Forces driving change include leaders' core values, incentives, communication, and community outreach. Forces inhibiting change relate to funding, information, policies, shared values, time, and training. Key informants defined success in campus sustainability as actions which: increase efficiency (and reduce waste); educate and prepare graduates for a fundamentally different world; achieve broad‐based support; and improve the university's sustainability image.

Research limitations/implications

This study points to at least four avenues of future research. One, scholars interested in more completely revealing their organization's sustainability network can map it using social network analysis techniques. Two, scholars could seek to answer the extent to which a campus institute becomes a center of gravity or an excuse for others to step away. Three, scholars can directly measure the four parameters of success respondents in this study identified (increase efficiency/reduce waste, educate/prepare graduates, achieve broad‐based support, improve image). And four, scholars can examine how an organization's commitment to recycling affects its image.

Originality/value

This paper provides a longitudinal look at the evolution of a campus sustainability network. It highlights how sustainability efforts evolve in different parts of the university at different rates, and in the present case how PPM and facilities planning influenced Academic Affairs to embrace sustainability.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 12 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 9 October 2018

Benjamin Cohen, Kira T. Lawrence, Andrea Armstrong, Miranda Wilcha and Alexa Gatti

A coalition of students, professors, administrators and operational staff at Lafayette College designed an environmental module to integrate in-class curricular education…

Abstract

Purpose

A coalition of students, professors, administrators and operational staff at Lafayette College designed an environmental module to integrate in-class curricular education with out-of-class environmental engagement. The purpose of this study was to improve the ethos of sustainability across campus.

Design/methodology/approach

The research reported here draws from qualitative and quantitative assessments to corroborate previous evidence that institution-wide collaboration is a necessary prerequisite for the successful development of such environmental campus programming.

Findings

It adds to those prior conclusions with the finding that three intertwined factors are critical keys to success. One is attention in the design process to coalition building between the academic, administrative and operational units of campus; second is a strong focus on organizational capacity; and third is explicit attention to preparing long-term management.

Practical implications

The particularities of college campuses, where student residence is temporary while the campus environment is continuous, require attention to organizational sustainability as much as the more common technical features of sustainability (e.g. energy, water, food, transportation systems, etc.). For small colleges seeking to implement similar programming to foster a culture of sustainability on their campuses, that commitment to organizational sustainability demonstrates that maintenance, durability and invested personnel are essential factors when similarly seeking interdisciplinary environmental education initiatives.

Originality/value

This paper describes the original program structure of Greening Lafayette. The program was built on the campus of Lafayette College through specific co-curricular, administrative, academic and facilities efforts. The paper details the approach Lafayette College students and faculty took to draw from best practices in campus sustainability, analyze their campus’ baseline engagement in and awareness of sustainability and leverage their college’s structures to design a program that generates a campus ethos of sustainability. It further elucidates the importance of ensuring the organizational sustainability of the program itself. While Greening Lafayette was designed for the context of a specific undergraduate campus, the program offers a model for faculty, students and administrators of other colleges and universities to build coalitions, design sustainability programming and develop an ethos of sustainability on their campuses.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 19 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 6 July 2015

Tim Lang

The purpose of this paper is to test the hypothesis that there are correlations between campus sustainability initiatives and environmental performance, as measured by…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to test the hypothesis that there are correlations between campus sustainability initiatives and environmental performance, as measured by resource consumption and waste generation performance metrics. Institutions of higher education would like to imply that their campus sustainability initiatives are good proxies for their environmental performance.

Design/methodology/approach

Using data reported through the Association for the Advancement in Higher Education’s Sustainability Tracking and Rating System (AASHE STARS) framework, a series of univariate multiple linear regression models were constructed to test for correlations between energy, greenhouse gas (GHG), water and waste performance metrics, and credit points awarded to institutions for various campus sustainability initiatives.

Findings

There are very limited correlations between institutional environmental performance and adoption of campus sustainability initiatives, be they targeted operational or coordination and planning best practices, or curricular, co-curricular or research activities. Conversely, there are strong correlations between environmental performance and campus characteristics, namely, institution type and climate zone.

Practical implications

Institutional decision makers should not assume that implementing best practices given credit by AASHE STARS will lead to improved environmental performance. Those assessing institutional sustainability should be wary of institutions who cite initiatives to imply a certain level of environmental performance or performance improvement.

Originality/value

This is the first paper to use data reported through the AASHE STARS framework to assess correlations between campus initiatives and environmental performance. It extends beyond previous research by considering energy, water and waste performance metrics in addition to GHG emissions, and it considers campus sustainability initiatives in addition to campus characteristics.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 16 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

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