Overarching Strategies

The following strategies are cross-topic. They do not fit into discrete, singular sustainability categories such as energy, water, waste, etc., but they are important to UNK’s sustainability success as a whole. Strategies that are topic-specific appear in later sections. A later section also describes strategies related to Campus Culture and Engagement, most of which are also cross-topic.

Improve coordination of sustainability planning and implementation

UNK is already addressing sustainability through many projects and programs, but its efforts are largely uncoordinated. The majority of UNK’s peer institutions, for example, have a level of sustainability coordination that UNK lacks (see Appendix: Peer Analysis). Thus, in the near term, university administration should task the UNK Sustainability Committee with coordinating the university’s sustainability efforts. Alternatively, or additionally, Verdis Group strongly believes UNK should hire a sustainability coordinator. This person would advise on, coordinate, and implement UNK’s sustainability planning, policies, projects, programs, and communications. UNK might face difficulty creating and filling a sustainability coordinator position within the immediate future, but eventually having one on staff will enable the university to successfully implement sustainability strategies and achieve its sustainability goals.

Revise the UNK Sustainability Committee charter

For now, rely on the UNK Sustainability Committee to coordinate the university’s sustainability efforts. To do this most effectively, the committee should revise and improve its charter to articulate a more strategic purpose with clearer objectives. We provide details about this strategy at the end of this section.

Establish two ongoing funding mechanisms for sustainability projects

(1) A green revolving loan fund will provide capital for sustainability projects that improve efficiency and result in operations savings.

(2) A student green fund would support sustainability projects developed by student groups and/or interdisciplinary teams. An optional student fee of $5 per semester could supply the fund, and the UNK Sustainability Committee could manage the fund and award grants. Also allow and encourage alumni and community members to donate to the fund. In addition to granting money, the student green fund would be a great engagement tool.

Submit an AASHE STARS v2.0 report

To compliment the 2015 Sustainability Master plan, UNK should further benchmark its sustainability performance by submitting a STARS v2.0 report, thus receiving a STARS rating. Thoroughly completing the comprehensive STARS framework may take at least one year, even with this plan and with the help of a student intern.

Prioritize sustainability at the University of Nebraska system level

Currently, the four institutions of the University of Nebraska system independently prioritize sustainability. The university system as whole, however, has an unclear sustainability vision and offers little direction. During the planning process, several staff members expressed that more system-level sustainability guidance would help them incorporate sustainability into their responsibilities. Thus, UNK should partner with the other three institutions to advocate for an official system-level emphasis on sustainability, which could include planning, policies, and/or other guidance.

Include students, faculty, and community partners

To the greatest extent possible, UNK should involve/engage students, faculty, and community partners in all aspects of its sustainability planning and implementation. UNK should always be thinking about how to expand the reach of its sustainability projects, even for facilities projects that may typically only involve a handful of staff members.

In addition to involving/engaging these groups individually, UNK should do so simultaneously. For example, develop a program in which classes or research groups partner with a community organization to address a realworld sustainability challenge.