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

Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 51.71
Liaison Jeffrey Severin
Submission Date July 17, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

University of Kansas
PA-2: Sustainability Planning

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Jeff Severin
Director
KU Center for Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have current and formal plans to advance sustainability in the following areas? Do the plans include measurable objectives?:
Current and Formal Plans (Yes or No) Measurable Objectives (Yes or No)
Curriculum Yes Yes
Research (or other scholarship) Yes Yes
Campus Engagement Yes Yes
Public Engagement No No
Air and Climate No No
Buildings Yes Yes
Dining Services/Food Yes Yes
Energy Yes Yes
Grounds Yes Yes
Purchasing Yes Yes
Transportation Yes Yes
Waste Yes Yes
Water No No
Diversity and Affordability Yes Yes
Health, Wellbeing and Work Yes Yes
Investment No No
Other --- ---

A brief description of the plan(s) to advance sustainability in Curriculum:

In 2010, the Chancellor of the University of Kansas commissioned the creation and implementation of a University-wide sustainability plan, Building Sustainable Traditions. One component of Building Sustainable Traditions was curriculum, and the Curriculum and Research working group developed goals, objectives and strategies for incorporating sustainability in curriculum into the new plan.


The measurable objectives, strategies and timeframes included in the Curriculum plan(s):

1. Develop resources for faculty to integrate sustainability concepts into
existing curriculum.
2. Advise students on a course of study using the Bachelor of General Studies degree
option to provide immediate opportunities for sustainability education.
3. Establish a curriculum committee to identify existing courses, additional needs, and a
program "home" for a formal sustainability certificate and/or degree programs.


Accountable parties, offices or departments for the Curriculum plan(s):

Center for Sustainability


A brief description of the plan(s) to advance sustainability in Research (or other scholarship):

The Curriculum and Research working group developed goals, objectives and strategies for incorporating sustainability research into the campus sustainability plan. This includes supporting undergraduate, graduate, and faculty research related to the campus strategic plan themes.


The measurable objectives, strategies and timeframes included in the Research plan(s):

1. Establish an online listing of campus sustainability-related research opportunities.
2. Establish the infrastructure needed to connect students and organizations with project, staff resources, faculty guidance, and other students interested in sustainability projects.
3. Establish an annual campus sustainability week that includes a research symposium highlighting sustainability-focused undergraduate, graduate, and faculty research.
4. Host regular conferences connecting faculty at KU with each other, campus and
community needs, and researchers at other Kansas institutions.
5. Develop a general research fund devoted to sustainability-related research.
6. Initiate a formalized network for academic department chairs and operational and
administrative leaders to establish contacts and identify connections with sustainability initiatives.
7. Instigate cooperative agreements with research institutes on campus to begin developing concepts for major sustainability-focused research initiatives such as REU or IGERT programs.


Accountable parties, offices or departments for the Research plan(s):

Center for Sustainability


A brief description of the plan(s) to advance Campus Engagement around sustainability:

Campus engagement falls under the Student Life and Administration, Development & Planning portions of Building Sustainable Traditions. The Student Life working group generated ideas about ways to create a more interactive campus and better informed student body, faculty, and staff. Bold Aspirations, the University's new strategic plan, also prioritizes living laboratory and experiential learning components and their importance for engaging the campus community in sustainability programs and initiatives.


The measurable objectives, strategies and timeframes included in the Campus Engagement plan:

1. Develop an overarching sustainability council that reports to senior administration
and is charged with maintaining the plan and serving in an advisory capacity to
campus units as sustainability is integrated into operational and physical
development standards, plans, and academic practices.
2. Expand the Sustainability Ambassador Network to include representation from all
campus departments.
3. Create an option in the KU Calendar system for sustainability-related campus events to be tagged and organized on the Calendar of Events on the KU sustainability website.
3. Publish an annual campus sustainability report.
Develop basic sustainability materials for new faculty and staff orientation packets.
4. Develop a campus sustainability workshop or workshop series.
5. Elevate the Sustainability Leadership Awards program to provide broad recognition of sustainability efforts throughout the year with tangible rewards.
6. Develop centralized incentives for participation in the Green Office Program.
7. Establish a centralized communications strategy for promoting sustainability
initiatives.
8. Provide sustainability content relevant to students to campus media outlets as part of a centralized communications strategy for sustainability initiatives.


Accountable parties, offices or departments for the Campus Engagement plan(s):

Center for Sustainability
Department of Student Affairs
KU Memorial Unions
KU Recreation Services
KU Student Housing
Student Health Services
Student Involvement and Leadership Center


A brief description of the plan(s) to advance Public Engagement around sustainability:

Administration, Development & Planning section of the Campus Sustainability Plan includes a goal to highlight, communicate, and celebrate our sustainability efforts, to include featuring sustainability topics in campus print, digital and social media outlets.

+ Date Revised: Oct. 7, 2015

The measurable objectives, strategies and timeframes included in the Public Engagement plan(s):

1. Expand efforts to feature stories about sustainability initiatives in KU News, on the KU homepage, and on the KU Sustainability website
2. Prioritize sustainability content in KU press releases
3. Work with the KU Alumni and Endowment Associations to encourage coverage of sustainability efforts in their publications


Accountable parties, offices or departments for the Public Engagement plan(s):

Center for Sustainability
Office of Public Affairs


A brief description of the plan(s) to advance sustainability in Air and Climate:
---

The measurable objectives, strategies and timeframes included in the Air and Climate plan(s):
---

Accountable parties, offices or departments for the Air and Climate plan(s):
---

A brief description of the plan(s) to advance sustainability in Buildings:

The campus Sustainability Plan includes a Built Environment chapter focused on the development of new design standards and decision-making processes. It includes a goal to create a built environment that enhances and sustains environmental and economic well-being of the campus. Additional goals for construction, renovation, and operations are included as an appendix, addressing carbon, material use, water use, and sustainable design.

+ Date Revised: Oct. 7, 2015

The measurable objectives, strategies and timeframes included in the Buildings plan(s):

1. Require all new construction to meet or exceed criteria for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certification.
2. Establish specific targets for credits within LEED categories that will result in high-performance buildings.
3. Incorporate performance standards outlined in the University's "Goals for Existing Building, New Construction, and Operational Standards."
4. Review existing building performance based on LEED Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance (LEED EB: O&M) standards.
5. Assign a LEED AP Sustainable Design Coordinator to all construction and renovation projects.
6. Use an “Integrated Project Delivery Process,” to involve all stakeholders throughout the decision making process, including building occupants and key operations and maintenance personnel.
7. Employ life cycle and “triple bottom line” analysis to evaluate the environmental, social, and economic costs and benefits over the entire life of each building.
8. Establish funding for construction and major renovation projects that allows for potentially higher capital costs balanced by lower long-term maintenance and operation costs.
9. Aim to exceed the Kansas Board of Regents utilization standards for classrooms and class laboratories to negate or delay the need to build additional space.
10. Concentrate development within existing campus boundaries through appropriate use of infill and redevelopment.
11. Complete comprehensive “Post Occupancy Evaluations” to assess employee satisfaction, performance and wellness, technical operations, environmental impacts, and economic aspects of projects within two years of initial occupancy.
12. Maintain data on the outcomes of individual practices and decisions (i.e.: performance of materials and equipment, maintenance requirements, etc.).
13. Annually update the design standards to integrate feedback from campus projects.


Accountable parties, offices or departments for the Buildings plan(s):

Center for Sustainability
Design and Construction Management
Facilities Services
KU Environment Health and Safety


A brief description of the plan(s) to advance sustainability in Dining Services/Food:

According the the University Sustainability Plan, the University and its affiliates are committed to lessening our negative impacts on the environment and strengthening the regional economy through sustainable and local food purchasing practices and less wasteful approaches to food services.


The measurable objectives, strategies and timeframes included in the Dining Services/Food plan(s):

1. Evaluate use of washable dishes and utensils for a range of uses on campus


Accountable parties, offices or departments for the Dining Services/Food plan(s):

Center for Sustainability
KU Dining
Kansas Athletics


A brief description of the plan(s) to advance sustainability in Energy:

Plans for sustainability in energy are addressed under the Energy section of Building Sustainable Traditions. Under this section the Energy working group sought to address the need for important energy policy reforms, campus conservation initiatives, and investment in new, cleaner energy sources.


The measurable objectives, strategies and timeframes included in the Energy plan(s):

1. Expand awareness programs to educate faculty, staff and students
about our campus energy system.
2. Enhance opportunities for seasonal set-backs and shut-downs (e.g.
concentrating summer classes in the most efficient facilities).
3. Initiate a study of options outside of performance contracting for funding large-scale energy projects.
4. Establish an energy committee appointed by the Provost to include representation from the central administration, staff, faculty, and students to develop a comprehensive energy management plan that incorporates the strategies outlined in the Sustainability Plan.
5. Initiate a feasibility study to identify opportunities to reduce peak usage (e.g. on-site peak generation and thermal storage)
6. Make basic energy data available on the KU website within the next year, and real-time data available for all buildings with capable meters
7. Adopt and implement a realistic annual energy budget, and establish procedures for reducing usage or reallocating funds when the budget is exceeded.
8. As part of the development of an energy management plan, update the
Campus Energy Policy and establish an ongoing review process to keep the policy current.
9. As part of the energy management plan, establish long-term and intermediate goals for on-site renewable energy generation and renewable energy procurement.
10. Adopt standards for integration of renewable energy generation in new construction and redevelopment.
11. Initiate a pilot project with at least one school or building that assigns responsibility for a portion of the energy budget to the school or departmental level and rewards savings.
12. Increase the base for the revolving green loan fund to $500,000.
Initiate a study of off-site generation potential, including an evaluation of KU and Endowment properties for potential solar or wind development.


Accountable parties, offices or departments for the Energy plan(s):

Center for Sustainability
Facilities Services - Energy Management Office


A brief description of the plan(s) to advance sustainability in Grounds:

The Campus Grounds section of the sustainability plan covers campus culture, history, space and conservation. Some of the initiatives outlined by Building Sustainable Traditions are updates to the 2002 Landscape Master Plan, which is still a significant guideline for conscientious grounds management.


The measurable objectives, strategies and timeframes included in the Grounds plan(s):

1. Update the Stormwater Master Plan to incorporate stormwater management best practices.
2. Use the plant palette included in the Landscape Master Plan for all projects, including the plant materials currently used on West Campus on Main Campus.
3. Initiate pilot projects to study the effectiveness of alternatives to chemical use such as herbicides and ice melt.
4. Develop a pilot program to evaluate the use of permeable pavement on campus.
5. Assess the potential for installing green roofs on existing buildings.
6. Develop a policy to preserve and protect open spaces and landscapes identified in the 2008 Heritage Plan and the 2002 Campus Master Plan.
7. Conduct a campus-wide tree inventory and develop a policy that requires at least a 1:1 tree replacement.
8. Establish a donation policy and fund for the future maintenance and replacement of memorials, sculptures and vegetation.
9. Develop minimum soil quality standards for new construction and redevelopment that require high quality topsoil, providing better ground conditions for new plantings.
10. Develop standards for rainwater collection and storage in new construction and redevelopment.
11. Develop standards for rain gardens and bioswales, permeable pavement, and green roofs for new construction and redevelopment where appropriate.
12. Establish an equipment replacement plan to transition to maintenance equipment powered by biodiesel produced on campus, electricity, and non-motorized means.
13. Use existing underground storage tanks to collect stormwater runoff for irrigation.


Accountable parties, offices or departments for the Grounds plan(s):

Facilities Services
Center for Sustainability


A brief description of the plan(s) to advance sustainability in Purchasing:

The Procurement section of the sustainability plan prioritizes both waste reduction purchasing practices and local purchasing practices. By working with departments and their procurement staff and vendors from which they purchase products, the University is moving toward wide-spread sustainability in purchasing.


The measurable objectives, strategies and timeframes included in the Purchasing plan(s):

1. Identify resources needed for expanding the current surplus program to address the collection, storage, and resale of all surplus materials.
2. Create a best practices guide to help make informed decisions about environmentally and socially preferred purchasing practices, including products certified by reputable third party organizations, with a goal of integrating the guide into the KUPPS system by FY 2014.
3. Develop a pilot program with at least one KU purchasing contract (e.g. computers or office supplies) to minimize packaging associated with product shipments.
4. Pilot a preferable purchasing program in selected departments to establish feasible minimum sustainable purchasing requirements for specific items (e.g. recycled-content paper).
5. Within the next year, identify temporary warehouse space to expand the campus surplus program to reuse furniture, equipment and supplies.
6. Develop an online database for campus surplus property that is integrated into KUPPS.
7. Pursue policies and technology purchases that support paperless work environments and encourage double-sided printing when paper is necessary.
8. Adopt a standard definitions of "local" for purchasing decisions based on the existing available resources.
9. Develop budget incentives that reduce end-of-year spending (i.e. eliminate the "use it or lose it" mentality).
10. Identify and develop partnerships with locally-owned businesses that provide goods and services commonly used by University departments.


Accountable parties, offices or departments for the Purchasing plan(s):

KU Purchasing Services
KU Surplus


A brief description of the plan(s) to advance sustainability in Transportation:

The Transportation section of the sustainability plan attempts to prioritize sustainable transportation for all University stakeholders. The plan outlines ways to incorporate typical multi-modal initiatives while also addressing more behavioral elements of transportation such as willingness to commute or rent communal vehicles, among other many other things.


The measurable objectives, strategies and timeframes included in the Transportation plan(s):

1. Work with admissions officers to encourage students and their
parents that living on campus as a first year benefits the student and
campus in many ways.
2. Develop a plan with contracted vendors to minimize the number of
deliveries to campus per week.
3. Apply for "Bicycle Friendly Campus" status through the League of American Bicyclists and develop an action plan for improvements based on feedback from the application process.
4. Incorporate information about alternative transportation in education
programs.
5. Establish a network of service stations throughout campus to provide
maintenance staff with access to shared equipment and break areas.
6. Initiate a study of University-owned vehicles to identify underutilized vehicles or vehicles that are mismatched to their use and identify opportunities to share, eliminate or replace vehicles to create a more efficient fleet.
7. Develop a limited use parking permit option to allow occasional parking for commuters who walk, bike, or bus to campus as their primary mode of transportation.
8. Establish a centralized carpool program for campus commuters.
9. Update the Accessibility Map to include the most efficient routes for movement throughout campus.
10. Develop campus-wide policies related to telecommuting to work and flex hour schedules.
11. Develop standards for new construction and redevelopment to incorporate enclosed or covered bike storage, shower facilities and bike route identification.
12. Develop a pilot project that allows students the opportunity to attend large lecture classes via web connection.
13. Develop a best-practices guide for vehicle purchases to ensure the most efficient vehicles are purchased in the future.
14. Identify funding for GPS technology for campus buses to provide riders with real time information about bus schedules.
15. Evaluate current funding practices for parking and transit to make recommendations for alternative funding strategies that minimize the conflict between reducing single-occupancy vehicles and increasing transit services.


Accountable parties, offices or departments for the Transportation plan(s):

Center for Sustainability
KU on Wheels
KU Parking and Transit
Facilities Services


A brief description of the plan(s) to advance sustainability in Waste:

The Waste section of the sustainability plan discusses the need for a more comprehensive waste diversion effort throughout campus. Some of this effort relies on infrastructure, but much of this effort also relies on good marketing for behavior change. Building Sustainable Traditions attempts to encompass both concepts in a detailed path forward for waste at KU.


The measurable objectives, strategies and timeframes included in the Waste plan(s):

1. Establish an ongoing review of solid waste collection services, including a feedback system to improve scheduling of campus and city provided waste pick-ups.
2. Develop best-practices guides for reduction, reuse, and proper disposal of common universal and hazardous wastes on campus (e.g. paint, lab chemicals, etc.).
3. Develop ongoing monitoring procedures for recycling and solid waste streams to inform decision makers about opportunities for waste reduction.
4. Develop agreements with vendors to reduce the amount of packaging used for commonly purchased items.
5. Incorporate information about the impacts of electronic waste as well as opportunities for recycling through the campus eWaste program and community e-waste collection into education and awareness programs.
6. evaluate the existing infrastructure and collection process to determine resource needs for expanding capacity of the campus recycling program, including collection containers, collection staff, collection and processing equipment, and sustainable funding sources.
7. Initiate a study to evaluate existing practices and campus services for collection of universal and hazardous wastes.
8. Develop guidelines for distribution of excess food and food waste to community partners.
9. Develop standards for reusing, recycling, or sending to surplus building materials and components.
10. Based on outcomes of the recycling infrastructure analysis, establish standards for vendors providing services on campus to capture recyclables that are collected on campus such as cardboard and scrap metal.
11. Research opportunities for composting in order to design and implement a campus-wide composting program.


Accountable parties, offices or departments for the Waste plan(s):

Facilities Services
Recycling
Surplus


A brief description of the plan(s) to advance sustainability in Water:
---

The measurable objectives, strategies and timeframes included in the Water plan(s):
---

Accountable parties, offices or departments for the Water plan(s):
---

A brief description of the plan(s) to advance Diversity and Affordability:

In 2012, the University released its Bold Aspirations strategic plan. Goal five of Bold Aspirations highlights the prioritization of a diverse faculty, staff and student body. KU values diversity because it recognizes that diversity brings about excellence and increased quality of the experience for students, faculty and staff at the University.


The measurable objectives, strategies and timeframes included in the Diversity and Affordability plan(s):

Strategy 5-D of Bold Aspirations states, "Enhance the diversity of faculty, staff, and student body"
I. Elevate the diversity leadership position to a vice provost level
II. Provide university oversight for diversity and equity of faculty, staff, and students
III. Develop and implement a campus vision and plan to coordinate diversity efforts


Accountable parties, offices or departments for the Diversity and Affordability plan(s):

Office of Diversity and Equity
Office of Multicultural Affairs
Center for Sustainability


A brief description of the plan(s) to advance sustainability in Health, Wellbeing and Work:

The Administration, Development & Planning segment of Building Sustainable Traditions devotes University resources to enhancing and supporting employee health and well-being. Health and well-being includes living wage standards, mental and physical health aid, among other things.


The measurable objectives, strategies and timeframes included in the Health, Wellbeing and Work plan(s):

1. Develop a benchmark for a "sustainable wages", along with a system to evaluate and update pay scales to ensure all KU faculty and staff salaries meet this standard.
2. Maintain standards for sustainability in all job descriptions.
3. Monitor employee satisfaction both in reference to position responsibilities and to individual contributions to creating a more sustainable campus and community.
4. Support employee wellness with options for individual choice and with resources and programs made available as institutional policy.


Accountable parties, offices or departments for the Health, Wellbeing and Work plan(s):

Center for Sustainability
Human Resources
Watkins Health Center


A brief description of the plan(s) to advance sustainability in Investment:

As stated by Bold Aspirations, "A key aspect of the strategic plan is the focused investment in some big, bold ideas where KU can harness its unique assets to help make the world a better place."


The measurable objectives, strategies and timeframes included in the Investment plan(s):
---

Accountable parties, offices or departments for the Investment plan(s):

KU Endowment
Office of the Provost


A brief description of the plan(s) to advance sustainability in other areas:
---

The measurable objectives, strategies and timeframes included in the other plan(s):
---

Accountable parties, offices or departments for the other plan(s):
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The institution’s definition of sustainability:

From the Sustainability Plan: "Sustainability is generally defined as "meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Often misinterpreted as “environmental sustainability” it requires a much broader focus. While sustainability does involve using our natural resources wisely and protecting, enhancing, and mimicking the natural systems that support our planet, it also requires that we do these things in a way that both promotes economic prosperity and ensures that all members of society are treated with equality and respect. Overall, sustainability is about building healthy, resilient communities where everyone has access to the resources needed to achieve a high quality of life without exceeding the capacity of our natural ecosystems."


Does the institution’s strategic plan or equivalent guiding document include sustainability at a high level?:
Yes

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

"Bold Aspirations," the University's strategic plan, includes elements of sustainability throughout, including efforts to promote sustainability related research, infrastructure, and education, among many other things. The strategic plan touches on nearly every aspect of the University and makes it clear that sustainability must be a focus moving forward.


The website URL where information about the institution’s sustainability planning 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.