Washington University releases sustainability plan

Washington University in St. Louis has released its Strategic Plan for Environmentally Sustainable Operations.

The plan details the university’s sustainability achievements, aspirations and challenges in terms of energy and water use, food sources, recycling and transportation, among others.

The plan also details the university’s sustainability goals and its plans on how to meet these goals:

  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 greenhouse gas emissions levels by 2020 without purchasing carbon offsets
  • Building more sustainably by meeting at least LEED Silver qualifications and pursuing LEED Gold when appropriate
  • Decreasing solo-occupancy vehicles coming to campus by 10 percent by 2012
  • Working with WUSTL Dining Services to purchase more food that is produced and distributed locally, humanely, fairly and in an ecologically sound manner
  • Reducing solid waste by 20 percent on the Medical Campus and 30 percent on the Danforth Campus
  • Using more native plants in landscaping
  • Fostering a culture of responsible use of resources among faculty, staff and students.

“Washington University’s goal is to become a model of sustainable operations,” Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said. “Achieving this goal will have a positive impact on the environment of the world, and it helps us serve as a model for other large universities and institutions in the St. Louis region and across the country.”

Matt Malten (left), assistant vice chancellor for sustainability, discusses the university’s draft of the Strategic Plan for Environmentally Sustainable Operations with Jean Zhang, statistical data analyst, at the School of Medicine. Poster sessions, forums and other presentations were held throughout both campuses earlier this year to gather faculty, staff and student feedback on the plan.

“Still, achieving national leadership in operational sustainability will not be an easy task and will require effort from all in the university community,” Wrighton said. “This plan reflects hundreds of hours of work by faculty, staff and students who analyzed operations, considered the actions of peer institutions, and tested new ideas.”

The plan was developed by the Sustainable Operations Leadership Council (SOLC), chaired by Henry S. Webber, executive vice chancellor for administration.

The SOLC consisted of five subcommittees: Energy & Emissions, Buildings & Grounds, Dining Services, Materials Management & Purchasing, and Transportation.

This past January, a review draft of the plan was released. The draft was shared with the WUSTL community at more than 15 public forums in January and February, and feedback was solicited at these forums, at other presentations and at meetings as well as through an online survey.

More than 250 members of the university community contributed feedback through these methods. After hearing from the community, the SOLC made many revisions to the plan.

“We greatly appreciated those in the WUSTL community who provided us with feedback about the sustainable operations plan,” Webber said. “Comments were taken seriously and, in many cases, sparked re-examination of plans and goals to make sure the university was being as ambitious as possible while also dealing with real issues and challenges.”

The sustainability plan will be informally revisited frequently and formally re-evaluated in 2013 and 2017.

To view the sustainability plan, visit wustl.edu/sustain/strategicplan.html.