Gavin Young
KU Office of Public Affairs

KU unveils sustainability plan

Wed, 10/19/2011
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LAWRENCE – University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little and the KU Center for Sustainability have announced the completion of Building Sustainable Traditions, the KU campus sustainability plan. Aspects of the plan will be the focus of events during KU Sustainability Week, which is Oct. 24-28.

“As a public institution, the University of Kansas has a responsibility to operate in an efficient, effective and sustainable manner,” Gray-Little said. “We must elevate the expectations we have for ourselves as a community, finding ways to maximize the benefits of the work we do at KU, while minimizing financial, environmental and societal costs.”

The plan was commissioned by the chancellor in spring 2010. Formal work began in October 2010 with the appointment of an advisory council by Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter. In all, more than 150 students, faculty, staff and community members were involved in the process of developing a vision for a sustainable campus and plotting a course to get there.

“KU is engaged in a number of major initiatives, and underlying the success of each is our ability to responsibly steward fiscal and physical resources,” Vitter said. “Our sustainability plan will fold into everything we do at KU, from the efficiencies pursued as part of the Changing for Excellence initiative to the implementation of our strategic plan, Bold Aspirations.”

Building Sustainable Traditions focuses on creating a community that is engaged in sustainability, adaptive in its cultural, institutional, educational and operational practices, and efficient in its use of resources. The plan calls for several initial activities, including increased contact and coordination throughout campus, review of standards for facilities and for landscaping and open spaces, expanded recycling efforts, and new standards for environmentally and socially preferred purchasing practices.

The sustainability plan will be integrated throughout Bold Aspirations and the Changing for Excellence initiative. A key aspect of Bold Aspirations is the development of four strategic initiative themes, one of which is “Sustaining the Planet, Powering the World.” A campuswide summit on this strategic theme will take place at 8:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 18, at The Commons. The summit will concentrate on the strategic theme’s message of creating a sustainable future, understanding the causes and consequence of climate change, and enhancing commercialization of KU innovations in sustainability.

As part of KU Sustainability Week, two workshops are planned to garner input on procurement recommendations in the sustainability plan. Additional events include tours of the West Campus rain gardens and the Center for Design Research, a discussion on Hunger and Higher Education at the Multicultural Resource Center, and the Campus Sustainability Day Luncheon, including presentation of KU Sustainability Leadership Awards. A full schedule is available on the Center for Sustainability’s website.

“To remain at the forefront of higher education, we must incorporate sustainable practices into our core functions to help the university make smart economic decisions, reduce its social and environmental impacts, and recruit and retain interested, involved and diverse students, faculty and staff,” said Jeff Severin, director of the Center for Sustainability.

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