KU's guide for a greener campus set to go before Chancellor

On Friday, Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little will receive what has been described as a road map in the university's quest to become a more sustainable campus.

For the past year, a group of more than 150 administrators, faculty, staff and students has been working on the university's first Campus Sustainability Plan.

The plan comes with a host of action steps and recommendations that, if followed, will build a more sustainable community over the next 40 years.

"It provides a guide for everyone from the single individual to do more to recycle to departments to adopt more sustainable purchasing practices," said Jeff Severin, who spearheaded the plan as director of the Center for Sustainability.

Gray-Little commissioned the sustainability plan and is eager to see it, said Jack Martin, the deputy director of university communications.

"She'll review it and make decisions going forward from there," Martin said on the next step in the process.

The 56-page plan focuses on nine major areas: administration, built environment, campus grounds, curriculum and research, energy, procurement, student life, transportation and waste reduction. Specific strategies have been developed for each area.

The plan includes more than a dozen steps that should be tackled first. Some of them are:

Use the campus as a living laboratory. The plan suggests course work and research should be geared so students have more opportunities to gather data about systems on campus and to do projects that have an impact on the campus. "It's learning from the campus environment, but at the same time contributing more to sustainable operations," Severin said.

Increase the amount of data being collected on sustainability indicators. The university should identify what needs to be measured and then establish a matrix that can help monitor progress on sustainability projects.

Develop a comprehensive energy management plan that helps the university determine what investments translate into the biggest energy reductions. The plans should include strategies for increasing efficiency, conservation and renewable energy sources.

All new construction or major renovations should meet or exceed Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver criteria, which is part of set of sustainable building standards established by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The plan also urges the university to establish standards for environmentally and socially preferred purchasing practices, expand its recycling program and develop a more efficient fleet of vehicles. Severin sees the plan as a tool his office can use to spur others to do more.

"I think it is a really important step for our office to have this kind of guidance and as a campus to have some unified measurable goals to strive towards," Severin said. "I think it will be a very useful plan moving forward and something we can really learn from."

The final draft of the plan can be downloaded here.

By Christine Metz

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