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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 67.88
Liaison Mary Easterling
Submission Date Sept. 14, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Pennsylvania State University
PA-2: Sustainability Planning

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.75 / 4.00 Mary Easterling
Assoc Director, Analysis & Assessment
Sustainability Institute
"---" 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:

Penn State's Strategic Plan for 2016 to 2020 includes sustainability in two integral ways:

First, one of the six "foundational principles" that support the Plan's implementation is "Ensuring a Sustainable Future". A description of this principle begins as follows:
"Penn State will confront directly and assertively the global challenges of climate change and sustainability in all their complexity—from feeding a growing population to preserving Earth’s resources to ensuring energy security. As an institution of higher learning and research, Penn State has a responsibility to embody and communicate an evidence-based worldview that allows all of us to prosper, both now and in the future."

Second, the Plan includes as one of its five thematic priorities, "Stewarding Our Planet's Resources". This priority is summarized as follows: "Penn State will be a leader in creating comprehensive solutions to mitigate the dangers of climate change and address the challenges of providing safe and abundant water, clean and renewable energy sources, and plentiful and nutritious food."


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

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

A copy of the climate action plan:
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The website URL where the climate action plan is publicly available:
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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):

The Campus Master Plan has a section under land use planning recommendations: 5.1.16 Establish Environmental Resource as a Landuse to Maintain Environmental Quality, that addresses the need to protect areas designated as Environmental Resource and Environmentally Sensitive Areas to protect water quality, natural resources, and scenic quality. See http://www.opp.psu.edu/planning-construction/master-plans/university-park-campus-master-plan/university-park-campus-master-plan-1/5.0-master-plan-recommendations

Penn State addresses diversity - one component of sustainability - in the institution's diversity plan, "Fostering and Embracing a Diverse World - Strategic Plan 2016-2020". See http://equity.psu.edu/fostering-diverse-world

Individual units (including colleges, academic support units, and administrative support units) each have produced a strategic plan. The large majority of these (46 of 52) address sustainability in some way. http://www.opia.psu.edu/plans


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:

The Penn State Strategic Plan 2009-10 through 2013-14 identifies the following performance measures:
Number of Academic Offerings focused on sustainability education
Number of Academic Offerings that incorporate sustainability into the curriculum
See Appendix 5, Strategy Implementation Matrix
http://strategicplan.psu.edu/StrategicPlancomplete.pdf


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:

The Penn State Strategic Plan 2009-10 through 2013-14 identifies the following performance measures:
(Increase) Research focused on Sustainability, as measured by:
- No. of projects or grants;
- Dollar value of projects or grants
See Appendix 5, Strategy Implementation Matrix
http://strategicplan.psu.edu/StrategicPlancomplete.pdf


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

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

One of the six foundational principles of Penn State's Strategic Plan for 2016 to 2020 is Engaging Our Students. This is a broad theme however that is not limited to engagement in sustainability.


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:

In the context of Stewarding Our Planet's Resources, one of five thematic priorities in Penn State's Strategic Plan for 2016 to 2020, one of the stated goals is to "forge broad and relevant partnerships" and, in particular, "Penn State will compile a comprehensive inventory of stakeholders (including industry, government, and international organizations) and engage them to drive success." https://strategicplan.psu.edu/thematic-priorities/stewarding-our-planets-resources/


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:

The Penn State Strategic Plan 2009-10 through 2013-14 includes the following performance measures:
- Greenhouse gas emission reductions


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:

Penn State has adopted a LEED policy that applies to all (100%) of its new buildings. Existence of the policy is referenced in the Penn State Strategic Plan 2009-10 through 2013-14, Section 7.8 on Establish and Foster Sustainable Environments. Details of the policy, including some measurable goals, are specified in the policy, for example, Construction Waste Management: Divert 50-75% from Disposal and Use materials that have been harvested recovered manufactured within 500 miles of the project site for
10-20% of total cost of all materials

Penn State's Guiding Principles for Campus Planning at University Park state that:
- Incorporate resource efficient and low polluting technologies into new and renovated
facilities to reduce operating and societal costs...


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:

Penn State's Guiding Principles for Campus Master Planning include:
- Reduce environmental impact of transportation by reducing fuel consumption and
greenhouse gas emissions.


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

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

The Campus Master Plan designates Environmental Resource areas, Environmentally Sensitive Areas, and Water Resource Protection zones and specifies protection of these areas. Their inclusion in a GIS database allows these areas to be tracked so that potential impacts can be avoided.


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:

The Penn State Strategic Plan 2009-10 through 2013-14 includes one performance measure related to Purchasing:
- quantity of environmentally-responsible purchases versus standard purchases
See Appendix 5, Strategy Implementation Matrix
http://strategicplan.psu.edu/StrategicPlancomplete.pdf


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

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

Penn State has developed a Bicycle Master Plan for the UP campus. It specifies goals but not specific measurable objectives.


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

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

The Campus Master Plan maps Water Resource Protection zones and specifies protection of these areas. Their inclusion in a GIS database allows these areas to be tracked so that potential impacts can be avoided.


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:

Performance measures in the Penn State Strategic Plan 2009-10 through 2013-14 include the following.
•Percentage of students receiving need-based institutional scholarships
•Percentage of full-time faculty/ staff by demographic group
•Percentage of undergraduate/ graduate enrollment by demographic group
•First-year and third-year retention rates by demographic group
•Average time-to-degree for graduate students by demographic group
•Tenure success rate of faculty by demographic group
See Appendix 5, Strategy Implementation Matrix
http://strategicplan.psu.edu/StrategicPlancomplete.pdf

In addition, individual units are expected to develop their own performance measures as part of their unit-level strategic plans for fostering diversity.


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:
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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:

Two of the measurable outcomes in the Human Resources Strategic Plan are increased job satisfaction and increased employee morale.


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):

Penn State's definition of sustainability, as published in its Sustainability Strategic Plan, is: "Sustainability is the simultaneous pursuit of human health and happiness, environmental quality, and economic well being for current and future generations."


Is the institution an endorser or signatory of the following? :
Yes or No
The Earth Charter ---
The Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI) ---
ISCN-GULF Sustainable Campus Charter ---
Second Nature’s Carbon Commitment (formerly known as the ACUPCC), Resilience Commitment, and/or integrated Climate Commitment ---
The Talloires Declaration (TD) ---
UN Global Compact ---
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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Penn State's Strategic Plan for 2016-2020 was approved by the Board of Trustees in Jan 2016. The Plan lays out broad strategic priorities, including "Stewarding Our Planet's Resources". However the process of identifying specific goals, initiatives, and performance indicators has been left to the work of committees. Because these committees' work is still underway, no final performance indicators are yet available. In the absence of this information, we rely on performance indicators in the previous university strategic plan for our responses to this STARS credit area.

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.