On September 26, 2014, Roosevelt University began an inclusive effort to craft its very first 5-year Strategic Sustainability Plan. At this kick-off workshop event, faculty, staff and students provided clear guidance for the plan, including these major initial recommendations: 1) expand sustainability education across the curriculum; 2) focus university campus investments in energy savings, reduced carbon footprint, and better recovery of waste; and 3) invest in an independent Office of Sustainability to oversee and accelerate projects.
This event was the first of three half-day sessions guiding sustainable actions sponsored by the university. The second two sessions, culminating in November with a written plan, criteria for project selection and assessment, as well as organizational structure, are on a fast-track to completion. The University will conduct measurement through AASHE’s STARS 2.0 and reassess the plan on an annual basis.
Robust changes which have already impacted the University’s carbon footprint and curriculum as it embraced sustainability as a core part of Roosevelt’s identity include: over 30 students have graduated from the Sustainable Studies undergraduate program in four years; two green buildings were built in Chicago (the LEED-Gold Wabash Building and the LEED-Silver Goodman Center athletic center); and a native prairie was restored as well as a community garden established at the Schaumburg suburban campus.
Underlying these visible indicators are on-going contributions to social equity made by Roosevelt students and faculty in the community, an extension of RU’s institutional strategic plan developed in 2013-14. These advancements have been funded by the University’s operations budget, grants, and rebates; and made possible by the collaborative hard work of the university’s administration, staff, faculty, and a handful of high-impact student interns.
Today, opportunities for funding and savings abound, and participation in programs like Retrofit Chicago are an imperative. With renewed focus and sustainability-minded planning, the university stands to realize more energy and resource efficiencies as well as further lower its greenhouse gas emissions.
Dr. Chuck Middleton, President of Roosevelt University, praised the planning team’s efforts and remarked, “After five years of substantial change, I’m pleased to see that together students and staff will provide continued impetus for sustainable action at RU.”
For more information on Roosevelt University’s Strategic Sustainability Plan and how you might participate, please contact Thomas Shelton (firstname.lastname@example.org), Sustainability Coordinator in RU’s Physical Resources Department.