This paper aims to compose a systematic understanding of campus sustainability innovations and unpack the complex drivers behind the elaboration of specific innovations. More…
This paper aims to compose a systematic understanding of campus sustainability innovations and unpack the complex drivers behind the elaboration of specific innovations. More precisely, the authors ask two fundamental questions: What are the topics and modes of implementation of campus sustainability innovations? What are the external and internal factors that drive the development of specific innovations?
The authors code and analyze 454 innovations reported within the Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System (STARS), the campus sustainability assessment tool of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. Using descriptive statistics and illustrations, the paper assesses the state of environmental innovations (EIs) within STARS. Then, to evaluate the role of internal and external drivers in shaping EIs, the authors have produced classification and regression tree models.
The authors’ analysis shows that external and internal factors provide incentives and a favorable context for the implementation of given EIs. External drivers such as climatic zones, local income and poverty rate drive the development of several EIs. Internal drivers beyond the role of the agent of change, often primarily emphasized by past literature, significantly impact the implementation of given EIs. The authors’ work also reveals that EIs often move beyond traditional mitigation approaches and the boundaries of campus. EIs create new dynamics of innovation that echo and reinforce the culture of a higher education institution.
This work provides the first aggregated picture of EIs in the USA and Canada. It produces a new and integrated understanding of the dynamics of campus sustainability that complexifies narratives and contextualizes the role of change agents.