On June 15th, Brandon and Bo met with top OSU leaders to discuss the status of sustainability at OSU, and findings and recommendations from the university’s recent STARS submission. While OSU received a STARS Gold rating, administrators acknowledge areas in which the institution could make faster progress. University operations and energy use (especially given OSU’s commitment to achieve climate neutrality by 2025) is one area in which administrators expressed keen interest. Additional investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency measures, and carbon offsets this year will help but additional long term solutions are needed.
Other discussion topics included broader institutional goals, the merit and applicability of STARS criteria within the Oregon University System, and sustainability in curriculum. President Ray pointed out how the university should have high marks around the number of sustainability-related courses offered here. And considering OSU’s tremendous amount of research in sustainability-related fields, in addition to its renowned programs in Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences and Agricultural Sciences, it may be a surprise the institution did not get full scores in these areas.
In some cases, it is not a lack of sustainability-related activities that lead to less-than-full-credit scores, but rather lack of data available to quantify performance. One example is around community service hours where, as Brandon likes to say, “I know our students are doing more community service, I just can’t prove it.” Data tracking and gathering will be a major focus of this upcoming year, prior to OSU’s next STARS report, due May 11, 2012. Another next step will be to establish a university-level sustainability council in cooperation with Provost Sabah Randhawa, hopefully in place by fall 2011.