By Becca Stock and Zakri Siegel
The year 2020 marks an important milestone for many sustainability plans and the beginning of many new initiatives led by educational institutions. Whether in the areas of transportation, greenhouse gas emissions, student engagement, or waste, institutions around the country have worked hard to pursue their goals. Now is the time to reflect on past performance as well as look to the future.
Did you meet your goals? If you did, congratulations! Be sure to celebrate your success and then ask what’s next? For those who want to continue finding ways to improve campus sustainability, here’s a quick list of ideas:
- Initiatives around building campus resiliency – Learn more in our recent article discussing resiliency observations and opportunities in the wake of COVID-19 here.
- Beneficial building electrification – Learn more about this opportunity in our recent article on beneficial electrification here.
- 100% renewable energy pledges – The EPA’s list of the top green power consumers can help you see what other institutions are doing.
- Fleet vehicle conversions to electric models – Check out our article breaking down three steps to get ready here.
- Zero waste campus and circular economy initiatives – Zero Waste International’s Zero Waste Community Principles can help you get started.
Of these emerging climate and sustainability strategies, beneficial electrification presents significant opportunity to address your educational institution’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and will help set the stage for zero-carbon campuses.
Did you fall short of your goals? Having developed well thought out plans and still not hitting the mark can leave sustainability leaders frustrated and wondering what to do next. But don’t lose hope – here are some ideas to get you back on track!
Step 1: Reevaluate the goals and strategies outlined in your plan. Where did you succeed? What areas need more attention? Do you need to revise your sustainability goals based on new information or updated technologies?
Step 2: Determine how your institution would like to advance sustainability on campus. Do you want to focus on a targeted effort, such as building energy efficiency, or do you prefer to look at sustainability holistically across your campus? Small, targeted efforts in a specific area of interest is a good option if resources are limited. On the other hand, taking a comprehensive look at sustainability and resiliency across the campus is ideal for identifying and prioritizing the most impactful strategies across all categories.
Step 3: Build organization support and enthusiasm by engaging a wide variety of stakeholders in identifying new sustainability goals and strategies. The most impactful strategies are the ones that get implemented, so don’t be afraid to take small steps to build momentum and support on campus.
Step 4: Reenergize the community in rallying around new goals by celebrating past success and using shortfalls as a call to action. Remember that you’re not only doing your part to help build a more sustainable future but you’re also modeling the way for our future leaders.