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  • AASHE-STARS

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 70.78
Liaison Margaret Lo
Submission Date Sept. 1, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

George Mason University
PA-2: Sustainability Planning

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.75 / 4.00 Margaret Lo
University Sustainability Director
Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have a published strategic plan or equivalent guiding document that includes sustainability at a high level? :
Yes

A brief description of how the institution’s strategic plan or equivalent guiding document addresses sustainability:

Within George Mason University's (Mason) 2014-2024 Strategic Plan, sustainability is embedded throughout its goals and values. Mason affirmed that "We are careful stewards. We manage the economic and natural resources entrusted to us responsibly and sustainably." Mason intends to graduate students that are engaged citizens that are ethically oriented and committed to democratic ideals, respectful of individual differences, rights, and liberties, knowledgeable of important issues affecting the world, focused on the well-being of others, today, and tomorrow, and committed to building a just society. Additionally, Mason's strategic goal seven states that we aspire to be a model well-being university that allows all of its members to thrive. That goal aligns with sustainability principles.


A copy of the strategic plan:
The website URL where the strategic plan is publicly available:
Does the institution have a published sustainability plan (apart from what is reported above)? :
No

A copy of the sustainability plan:
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The website URL where the sustainability plan is publicly available:
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Does the institution have a published climate action plan (apart from what is reported above)? :
Yes

A copy of the climate action plan:
The website URL where the climate action plan is publicly available:
Does the institution have other published plans that address sustainability or include measurable sustainability objectives (e.g. campus master plan, physical campus plan, diversity plan, human resources plan)? :
Yes

A list of other published plans that address sustainability, including public website URLs (if available):

Many of the university's plans including its Master Plan, its Transportation Plan, and its Design Information Manual which address sustainability are located at http://facilities.gmu.edu/campus-planning/planning/university-master-plans/
Its academic and research sustainability vision are located at http://sustainabilitystudies.gmu.edu/vision
Its Green Purchasing Guidelines are located at http://fiscal.gmu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/GreenPurchasingPolicy.pdf


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Curriculum?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Curriculum and the published plans in which each objective is included:

There are approximately six measurable objectives in this vision that address curriculum. One objective is that Green Leaf sustainability courses are offered in all 11 academic units and most academic departments, fostered by peer-to-peer faculty capacity building. Another is that all pertinent academic programs include concentrations with Green Leaf courses as requirements or electives. Green Leaf courses are either sustainability focused where all three of the triple bottom line concept--people, planet, and profits--are addressed or sustainability-related where at least one of the concepts is addressed. More information is available at http://sustainabilitystudies.gmu.edu/vision/


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Research?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Research and the published plans in which each objective is included:

There are approximately four measurable objectives in this vision that address research and scholarship. One objective is formation of multi-year research projects and network to address big sustainability challenges. Another objective is commitment and mechanisms to open Mason operations to scholarship. More information is available at http://sustainabilitystudies.gmu.edu/vision/


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Campus Engagement?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Campus Engagement and the published plans in which each objective is included:

There are approximately three measurable objectives in this vision that address campus engagement and service, research and scholarship. One objective is that sustainability-focused immersive learning experiences are provided each year. Another objective is students participate in co-curricular sustainability opportunities related to signature Mason events. More information is available at http://sustainabilitystudies.gmu.edu/vision/


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Public Engagement?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Public Engagement and the published plans in which each objective is included:

Within Mason's Strategic Plan, Goal Six is to contribute to the cultural vitality of our community through regional partnerships and commitments to the arts, athletics, and community engagement. One metric is to achieve the Carnegie Community Engagement classification. As part of that classification, community service data such as hours and process need to be compiled and reported. For example, community service hours are compiled through the Mason Impact and Patriot Experience programs and databases. Mason Impact tracks student service as part as academic learning while the Patriot Experience tracks student involvement in extracurricular and co-curricular activities.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Air & Climate?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Air & Climate and the published plans in which each objective is included:

As stated in the University's Climate Action Plan, Mason's objective is to be climate neutral by 2050 with interim goals such as reducing its Scope 1, 2, and 3 greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020 and 80% by 2050.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Buildings?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Buildings and the published plans in which each objective is included:

As stated in Mason's Climate Action Plan and in Mason's Design Information Manual, the university committed to build all new buildings to a minimum of US Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver level or its equivalent.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Energy?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Energy and the published plans in which each objective is included:

As stated in Mason's Climate Climate Action plan, the university tracks its greenhouse gas emissions regularly and its progress in greenhouse gas emissions reductions using two energy intensity values--greenhouse gas emissions per student and square foot of building space.

Building space is included because the energy consumed associated with buildings comprises the majority of Mason's greenhouse gas emissions. Stated goals within the Climate Action Plan are: Energy intensity metrics will show a 2% decline per year starting in fiscal year 2010 through the end of fiscal year 2012, by 2014 energy intensity down by 10% from 2006, and by 2020 Mason will achieve a 50% energy intensity reduction from 2006 levels. In the 2006 baseline year, energy intensity metrics of MTCDE per full-time equivalent student and per 1,000 gross square feet emitted were 4.51 and 18.32, respectively.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Food & Dining?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Food & Dining and the published plans in which each objective is included:

As stated within Mason's Climate Action Plan, Mason pledged to explore and develop a composting program and re-use waste fryer oil from campus operations. Mason does re-use its waste fryer oil and had a composting program. The composting program is currently being modified due to changes in the composting market in the DC area.

Additionally, Mason Dining and Sodexo have eight commitments including:
--We will ensure compliance with a Global Sustainable Supply Chain Code of Conduct in all the countries where we operate
--We will source local, seasonal, or sustainably grown and raised products in all the countries where we operate
--We will source sustainable fish and seafood in all the countries where we operate
--We will source and promote sustainable equipment and supplies in all the countries where we operate by 2020
--We will reduce our carbon footprint in all the countries where we operate an at clients' sites by 2020
--We will reduce our water footprint in all the countries where we operate and at clients' sites by 2020
--We will reduce organic waste in all the countries where we operate and at clients' sites. We will support initiatives to recover organic waste
--We will reduce non-organic waste in all the countries where we operate and at clients' sites. We will support initiatives to recover non-organic waste.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Grounds?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Grounds and the published plans in which each objective is included:

Some objectives outlined within the environmental standards section of Mason's Design Information Manual that relate to grounds include:
--Use life-cycle cost and life-cycle quantity/quality control modeling to determine the best application of particular best management practices (traditional or low impact
development).
--Mason will designate conservation areas so that when university-owned
forested land is developed, new trees, of the same character and quality as those being removed and in a ratio of two planted to one removed, will be replanted in compliance with reforestation guidelines within Mason's landscaping standards.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Purchasing?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Purchasing and the published plans in which each objective is included:

As a state institution, George Mason University follows Executive Orders from the Governor. Within Virginia's Executive Order 19 (2010), it states that state institutions need to follow the waste hierarchy to reduce, reuse, or recycle whenever possible. It also states that as much as possible, materials and supplies purchased by the state, including paper, should be made from recycled and or renewable materials, and be provided with a minimum of packaging. Durable products, rather than disposable, should be used whenever practical. If disposables must be used, they should be biodegradable
or recyclable. The use of remanufactured components should be maximized. If disposable plastics must be used, they should, when practicable, be recyclable plastics only. Paper and other office supplies should be reused and only when beyond viable reuse, recycled. Much of these objectives are reiterated within Mason's Green Purchasing Guidelines. One example, is that at a minimum 30% post-recycled waste recycled paper should be used for all applications where quality of service is not compromised.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Transportation?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Transportation and the published plans in which each objective is included:

As described in Mason's Master Transportation Plan, measurable objectives for transportation include a percentage of Mason community commuting to Mason campuses in single-occupancy vehicles declines by 5% by 2014 and by 10% by 2020 from 2010 levels.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Waste?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Waste and the published plans in which each objective is included:

As part of Mason's Climate Action Plan, Mason pledged to have a recycling rate of 25% by 2014. It updated its pledge to have a 50% recycling rate by 2018 as part of the President Obama's American Campuses Act on Climate.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Water?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Water and the published plans in which each objective is included:

Several objectives within Mason's Design Information Manual are related to water consumption including:
--Mason appreciates the assistance of its Design Teams to evaluate and integrate innovative technologies to address the challenges of harvesting, storing, reclaiming, and reusing its water resources. Design Teams may need to collaborate with and address concerns of local governing authorities in certain locations and situations.
--Water use in new buildings and existing building renovations shall be 30%
below the Energy Policy Act of 1992 standards. Therefore, all new construction and existing building renovations shall have water efficient fixtures and products installed, such as low-flow faucets, showerheads, toilets, and appliances.
--Where possible, Mason encourages aquifer replenishment by allowing water to filter slowly into the groundwater table. Where it is feasible, use open channel storm drainage and vegetated swales for stormwater conveyance instead of pipes.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Diversity & Affordability?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Diversity & Affordability and the published plans in which each objective is included:

Some objectives in Mason's Strategic Plan include:
--Diversity metrics by faculty ranks and staff groups will increase by 50 percent in underrepresented groups.
--Create new collaborations with Virginia community colleges and other institutions to
facilitate affordable access.
--Adopt a tuition policy that supports a quality education while delivering best-in-class
return on investment for students.
--Mason will establish partnerships and more financial aid and scholarships that provide affordable ways for students to complete a Mason education.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Investment & Finance?:
No

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Investment & Finance and the published plans in which each objective is included:

Within Mason's Strategic Plan, Mason affirmed its values and goals of:
--We are careful stewards. We manage the economic and natural resources entrusted to us responsibly and sustainably.
--Be a sound and valuable investment for our students, taxpayers, and donors by focusing on outcomes, operational efficiency, and affordability.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Wellbeing & Work?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Wellbeing & Work and the published plans in which each objective is included:

Within Mason's Strategic Plan, Goal Seven is to become a model well-being university that allows all of its members to thrive. Well-being at Mason measures five domains: purpose and meaning, financial, physical, social, and community engagement. Some objectives related to that goal include:
--Bring compensation of faculty, staff, and graduate assistants to competitive levels.
--Establish a university-wide center for the advancement of well-being.
--Build curricular and co-curricular programs that help students achieve well-being
outcomes.
--Provide our communities and alumni with access to well-being assessment and
practices.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address other areas (e.g. arts and culture or technology)?:
No

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address other areas and the published plans in which each objective is included:
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Does the institution have a formal statement in support of sustainability endorsed by its governing body (e.g. a mission statement that specifically includes sustainability and is endorsed by the Board of Trustees)? :
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The formal statement in support of sustainability:
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The institution’s definition of sustainability (e.g. as included in a published statement or plan):

The definition of sustainability follows the World Commission on the Environment and Development which is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Mason also refers to the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profit.


Is the institution an endorser or signatory of the following? :
Yes or No
The Earth Charter ---
The Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI) Yes
ISCN-GULF Sustainable Campus Charter ---
Second Nature’s Carbon Commitment (formerly known as the ACUPCC), Resilience Commitment, and/or integrated Climate Commitment Yes
The Talloires Declaration (TD) ---
UN Global Compact Yes
Other multi-dimensional sustainability commitments (please specify below) ---

A brief description of the institution’s formal sustainability commitments, including the specific initiatives selected above:
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The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.