Sustainability Coordinator Steers Progress
Another first for the university is the addition of Derek Martin as sustainability coordinator. Martin is tasked with ensuring that the university is doing everything it can to reduce its environmental impact while maximizing student engagement.
Martin has already mobilized the university's greatest natural resource—its students—into groups that meet regularly to discuss and develop action plans around issues like energy, water and food, as well as special events.
"I think that students have the capability to really drive sustainability efforts on campus," says Osback, who also serves as the sustainability service coordinator for the JCCE. "Right now, there is a small number of students who are actively working toward sustainability on campus, but that number is growing. As more and more students get involved, I have no doubt that things will get done with more enthusiasm than ever before."
A Sustainability Report Card
Straub and Heather Pearson '18, an environmental studies major, spearheaded the university's first effort to be rated according to the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating SystemTM (STARS) from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.
STARS is a nationally recognized assessment tool for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. Susquehanna earned
a STARS Bronze rating.
"This process has showed us how broad the term ‘sustainability' is and how nearly every department and office on campus can contribute in some way toward our sustainability efforts," Straub says.
With more than 800 participants in 30 countries, AASHE's STARS program is the most widely recognized framework in the world for publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university's sustainability performance. Participants report achievements in five overall areas—academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration, and innovation and leadership.
It gives colleges and universities a system for understanding sustainability in all sectors of higher education, and enables meaningful comparisons over time and across institutions using a common set of measurements, all of which require broad participation from the campus community.
With the days getting longer and Susquehanna's solar array on the verge of being operational, Coyne finds himself thinking of sunny skies and more wildflowers.
"I think everybody has a part. It's not hard to plant flowers or to raise some bees," Coyne says. "We're making great strides at Susquehanna, and I see this campus as a kind of lab where students can figure out what their part is."