Log In
  • 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 68.76
Liaison Meghan Chapple
Submission Date Feb. 27, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

George Washington University
PA-1: Sustainability Coordination

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Meghan Chapple
Director of Sustainability, Senior Advisor on University Sustainability Initiatives
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have at least one sustainability committee, office, and/or officer that focuses on sustainability broadly and covers the entire institution?:
Yes

A brief description of the activities and substantive accomplishments of the committee(s), office(s), and/or officer(s) during the previous three years:

The GW Sustainability Collaborative is an umbrella organization formed in 2014 to connect all GW sustainability activities across teaching, research, practice, and engagement. It includes 10 research institutes, affiliated faculty (both those teaching 'Green Leaf' courses and those undertaking sustainability-related research), the Office of Sustainability, and Planet Forward. The purpose of the GW Sustainability Collaborative is to coordinate GW activities and communicate those activities internally and externally. Further, the purpose is to provide the organizational framework for our multi-disciplinary team to identify emerging opportunities to advance the field.

Kathleen Merrigan serves as Executive Director of Sustainability at GW, and is assisted by Prof. Lisa Benton Short (teaching lead), Meghan Chapple (practice lead), Frank Sesno (engagement lead). GW is in the process of searching for a research lead to complete the leadership team.

Biweekly "Sustainability Integration" meetings are held throughout the year to facilitate frequent information exchange and collaboration. Representatives from our research, teaching, practice, and engagement efforts are in attendance, along with various institutes and university officers depending on the agenda.

PRACTICE OVERVIEW
The Office of Sustainability has been working with partners across the university and externally to advance sustainability on campus, in Washington DC, and globally since 2009. In the previous three years from 2012-2014, the Office has had many accomplishments including the publication of the university's strategy for sustainability in practice (as opposed to in teaching or research). This strategy document titled GW Ecosystems Enhancement Strategy intends to build institutional understanding of, and commitment toward sustainability at GW, and engage GW’s external stakeholders. This strategy also outlines potential connections with the academic mission of the university. Simultaneously, the Office has worked with partners to improve GW's sustainability performance related to climate change, air quality, water quality and availability, waste reduction, food, biodiversity and grounds. The Office has launched programs such as the Student Sustainability Pledge and the Green Office Certification to build a culture and community of sustainability amongst GW students, faculty, and staff. Below are the most significant accomplishments in terms of impact across the university.

- In 2012 the Office worked closely with the Provost's Office, the Deans across all schools, and the Sustainability Committee of the Board of Trustees to approve a cross-disciplinary, pan-university sustainability minor and to hire an Academic Director. In Fall 2012 the George Washington University introduced a new 18-credit Minor in Sustainability, open to all undergraduate students.

- Throughout 2012-2014 the Office worked closely with the Provost's Office, a faculty committee from across all schools, and the Sustainability Committee of the Board of Trustees to recruit and hire the Executive Director of the Sustainability.

- In 2013 the Office of Sustainability and Facilities Services led the launch of the Eco Building Program to address energy use in existing buildings, which comprises 80 percent of the university's GHG emissions. The Eco Building Program provides a comprehensive capital improvement plan to strategically implement energy and water conservation projects in campus buildings.

- In Spring 2014, the university signed the Real Food Challenge, making a leadership commitment to a student-led campaign to make university food more local, fair, ecologically sound and humane.

- Over the last several years, the Office has worked within the Division of Operations to help GW open eleven USGBC LEED buildings on campus, one of which is the first Platinum academic building in the District of Columbia.

- Most recently in 2014, the Office led the launch of the Capital Partners Solar Project, an innovative renewable energy project that will provide solar power from three project sites to the George Washington University (GW), American University (AU) and the George Washington University Hospital (GWUH). It is comprised of 52 megawatts (MWac) of solar photovoltaic (PV) power, of which GW is taking approximately 70.4% of the total load (equivalent to about 50% of its total electricity demand). At the time of signing, GW's share represented the largest ever non-utility solar PV power purchase agreement (PPA) in the United States in terms of total megawatt-hours contracted over the life of the 20-year contract term. This project demonstrates how large organizations in an urban setting can partner to significantly reduce their carbon footprints by receiving offsite solar energy.

TEACHING OVERVIEW
As described in greater detail under curriculum, GW now has 400 courses with sustainability content, a thriving undergraduate minor in sustainability, and multiple degree pfferings related to sustainability..

RESEARCH OVERVIEW
GW has 170 faculty engaged in research related to sustainability and 10 research institutes engaged in aspects of sustainability research.

ENGAGEMENT OVERVIEW
Planet Forward, as our lead engagement tool, is an innovative platform used by students who employ storytelling as a way to engage on sustainability innovations. Since 2009, the website has had more than 2 million views, typically 20,000 unique visitors per month, and hosts more than 3,500 videos. In 2014, Planet Forward began building a campus consortium, which includes 15 universities. Also, in 2014, Planet Forward began contributing to National Geographic's Plate website, under "campus voices."


Does the institution have at least one sustainability committee?:
Yes

The charter or mission statement of the committee(s) or a brief description of each committee's purview and activities:

The university-wide Sustainability Faculty Committee meets no less than quarterly. Membership includes faculty representatives from 9 of 10 GW schools, the Director of the Office of Sustainability, the Executive Director of Planet Forward, and staff from the GW Sustainability Collaborative. The purpose of the Committee is to coordinate academic and research activities, share information and identify emerging opportunities.

The Sustainability Integration Committee is comprised of GW Offices and units that work on sustainability (operations, curriculum, research, communications and administration). The Committee meets biweekly to discuss opportunities in which to collaborate on new and existing GW and community projects to promote sustainability.


Members of each committee, including affiliations and role (e.g. staff, student, or faculty):

GW Sustainability Faculty Committee and the Sustainability Integration Committee listed below:

Sustainability Faculty Committee
Chair: Kathleen Merrigan, Executive Director of Sustainability, Sustainability Collaborative
1. Catherine Anderson, Assistant Professor of Interior Architecture and Design, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences
2. Adele Ashkar, Associate Professor of Landscape Design, College of Professional Studies
3. Lisa Benton-Short, Associate Professor of Geography, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, Director of Sustainability Academic Program
4. John Carruthers, Assistant Professor of Professional Studies, College of Professional Studies
5. Joe Cascio, a senior advisor with Booz Allen Hamilton and visiting scholar at GW
6. Meghan Chapple, Director, Office of Sustainability (Ex Officio)
7. Maria Cseh, Associate Professor of Human and Organization Learning, Graduate School of Education and Human Development
8. Jon Deason, Department of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering, School of Engineering and Applied Science
9. Jehan (GiGi) El-Bayoumi, Associate Professor of Medicine, Director of the Rodham Institute, School of Medicine
10. John Forrer, Director of the Globalization Research Center and Associate Research Professor of Strategic Management and Public Policy, School of Business
11. Royce Francis, Assistant Professor of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering SEAS - Engineering Management & Systems Engineering
12. Melissa Keeley, Assistant Professor of Geography and Interim Director, Environmental Studies, Public Policy, and Public Administration, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences
13. Ivy Ken, Associate Professor of Sociology, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences
14. Marcus King, John O. Rankin Associate Professor of International Affairs and Director of the MA Program in International Affairs, Elliot School of International Affairs
15. Peter LaPuma, Associate Professor, Department of Environmental & Occupational Health, School of Public Health and Health Sciences
16. Peter Linquiti, Director of Environmental and Resource Policy Program, School of Public Policy and Public Administration, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences
17. Stephen Lubkemann, Associate Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences
18. LeRoy (Lee) Paddock, Associate Dean for Environmental Studies Law School
19. Jerome Paulson, Professor of Children’s National Medical Center and GW Medical School
20. David Rain, Associate Professor of Geography, Director, Environmental Studies Program, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences
21. Rumana Riffat, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, School of Engineering and Applied Science
22. Jorge Rivera, Professor of Strategic Management & Public Policy, School of Business
23. Ellen Scully-Russ, Assistant Professor of Human and Organization Learning, Graduate School of Education and Human Development
24. Frank Sesno, Professor of Media and Public Affairs and International Affairs and Director of the School of Media and Public Affairs
25. Maia Sheppard, Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Pedagogy, Graduate School in Education and Human Development
26. Ekundayo Shittu, Assistant Professor of Engineering and Systems Engineering, School of Engineering and Applied Science
27. Michael Svoboda, Assistant Professor of Writing, University Writing Program
28. Tara Ghoshal Wallace, Professor of English, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences
29. Beverly Westerman, Associate Professor of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, School of Public Health and Health Services
30. Sara Wilensky, Undergraduate Program Director, School of Public Health and Health Services
31. Linda Yarr, Director for Partnerships for International Strategies in Asia, Elliott School of International Affairs

GW Sustainability Integration Committee
1. Kathleen Merrigan, Executive Director of Sustainability, Sustainability Collaborative
2. Lisa Benton-Short, Associate Professor of Geography, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, Director of Sustainability Academic Program
3. Meghan Chapple, Director, Office of Sustainability
4. Rhonda Chapman, Sustainability Project Facilitator, Office of Sustainability
5. Shannon Ross, Stakeholder Engagement Coordinator, Office of Sustainability
6. Mark Ellis, Sustainability Project Facilitator, Office of Sustainability
7. Amit Ronen, Director, Solar Institute
8. James Mueller, Director of Research, Solar Institute
9. Jennifer Bristol, Executive Coordinator, Solar Institute
10. Dawnita Altieri, Senior Strategy Advisor, Sustainability Collaborative
11. Ann Allegra, Sustainability Collaborative
12. Lisa Van Pay, Director of Research Communications, External Relations
13. Melanie Fedri, Coordinator for Social Entrepreneurship
14. Donna Attanasio, Energy Initiative Advisor, GW Law School
15. Dan Reed, Director, Planet Forward


The website URL where information about the sustainability committee(s) is available:
---

Does the institution have at least one sustainability office that includes more than 1 full-time equivalent (FTE) employee?:
Yes

A brief description of each sustainability office:

The Sustainability Collaborative was launched in 2014. The purpose is to coordinate campus-wide sustainability activities across research, teaching, practice, and engagement as well as to identify opportunities for GW leadership. Currently, the Collaborative has a staff of 3.35 FTEs.

The Office of Sustainability opened in January 2009, following the completion of the Task Force Report on Sustainability convened by President Knapp upon his arrival at the university. Since then, the Office has provided a strategic home for sustainability initiatives on campus, and the office works in partnership with many stakeholders on campus. With the recent launch of the Sustainability Collaborative, the Office is now focusing primarily on the university's practice of sustainability in its operations, business decisions, and living at GW. The Office does this by helping with tasks such as:
- Setting sustainability goals related to the above areas
- Supporting others at GW with the integration of activities into their current work
- Engaging with students to better serve their interests on campus, provide service-learning, and build momentum on student projects
- Facilitating partnerships between the university and external leaders on initiatives and events – non-profit organizations, multi-lateral organizations, business, local and national government, funders, peer institutions, others
- Helping to identify resources for sustainability efforts and sharing best practices across the university and with other sustainability practitioners
- Identifying and incubating sustainability projects that don’t yet have a “home” in the university

GW’s Office of Sustainability works closely with many departments on campus such as facilities, services, and campus planning, campus development and construction who lead the design and construction, and facilities operation and maintenance work. In addition, the Office of Sustainability supports and partners with other divisions ranging from the president’s office and the provost’s office, to food and dining, procurement, investment, human resources, finance, fundraising and development, student activities as well as various schools to integrate sustainability into the fabric of the organization.

Currently, the Office of Sustainability has a staff of 4.0 FTEs.


Full-time equivalent (FTE) of people employed in the sustainability office(s):
7.35

The website URL where information about the sustainability office(s) is available:
Does the institution have at least one sustainability officer?:
Yes

Name and title of each sustainability officer:
Kathleen Merrigan (Executive Director of Sustainability), Lisa Benton-Short (Sust. Academic Director), Meghan Chapple (Dir. Office of Sust. & Senior Advisor), Frank Sesno (Creator of Planet Forward)

A brief description of each sustainability officer position:

The Executive Director of the Sustainability oversees the GW Sustainability Collaborative.

The Sustainability Academic Director oversees the Undergraduate Minor and related degree programs.

The Planet Forward Creator oversees the Director and staff of Planet Forward and leads efforts on GW sustainability engagement.

The Director of the Office of Sustainability leads a team to provide support and leadership for the advancement of GW’s sustainability mission. With the recent launch of the Sustainability Collaborative, the Office is focusing primarily on the university's practice of sustainability in its operations, business decisions, and living at GW. The Director also acts as Senior Advisor on GW sustainability efforts to institution leaders .


The website URL where information about the sustainability officer(s) is available:

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.