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Campus Sustainability Resources

Universities are important testbeds for the development of a sustainable civilization, as sustainability requires learning and innovation, and campuses are societal centers of learning. Many projects have attempted to assess sustainability at universities.

2008 College Sustainability Report Card graded the sustainability of the 200 North American universities with the largest endowments. Schools were graded (from “A” to “F”) in seven categories. McGill improved from last year when in got a C+. This year it got a B- coming 3rd in the Canadian universities evaluated, behind UBC and U of Toronto, but beating U of Alberta. McGill’s grade puts it in the top 1/3 of North American universities.

The Sierra Youth Coalition has a Sustainable Campus Project, part of which has been focussed on developing a Campus Sustainability Assessment Framework. A number of different Canadian universities have conducted CSAF assessments. The Concordia Campus Sustainability Assessment at Concordia is an active and ongoing project. In many ways they are ahead of McGill, however they have been using the CSAF, hopefully we can learn from what they have been doing and build upon it. While CSAF is a start, the framework lacks a conceptual foundation, which makes, prioritizing, interpreting and identifying opportunities for improvement among its many (~170) indicators difficult. Also the CSAF was not developed in collaboration with university decision-makers, consquently it doesn’t have much credibility to them.

Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education is also developing a system Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS) which is a: voluntary, self-reporting framework for gauging relative progress toward sustainability for colleges and universities.

The AASHE and it has also identified an number of other campus sustainability assessments:

Auditing Instrument for Sustainability in Higher Education (AISHE)
Dutch Committee for Sustainable Higher Education (DHO)
An assessment process in which a campus team rates the department/campus on a scale of 1-5 (1 is lowest, 5 highest) for 20 indicators, mostly related to educational goals, process and outcome.

Campus Sustainability Selected Indicators Snapshot
New Jersey Higher Education Partnership for Sustainability (NJHEPS)
A tool for rating a campus’s performance from 1 to 7 (1 being the least sustainable, 7 being the most) for a range of environmental indicators. A series of questions to accompany each assessment category is also provided.

CSA Guidelines and Suggested Indicators
Campus Sustainability Assessment Project (CSAP)
Proposes 38 snapshot indicators in 14 categories; including metrics for assessing each indicator.

Draft List of Environmental Performance Indicators
Campus Consortium for Environmental Excellence (C2E2)
Listing of mostly quantitative environmental performance indicators.

Environmental Management System Self-Assessment Checklist
Campus Consortium for Environmental Excellence (C2E2)
A series of 33 questions in 5 categories for quantitatively evaluating an environmental management system.

Sustainability Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ)
University Leaders For A Sustainable Future (ULSF)
Assessment process in which a campus team rates their institution�s accomplishments on seven dimensions of sustainability in higher education.