In 2011, the University of Kansas published its first ever campus sustainability plan, Building Sustainable Traditions. Commissioned by the Office of the Chancellor, the document represents the efforts of over 150 members of the campus community to envision a campus empowered to make decisions that protect our natural ecosystems, create economic prosperity, and treat all people with equality and respect. The plan provides a framework for advancing campus sustainability in education, research, operations and campus life.
In the five years since the plan was completed, campus departments have been working to integrate strategies into operations, academics, and campus life. The plan has served as a guide for advancing sustainability throughout campus.
These accomplishments represent the efforts of individuals, departments, and organizations through campus to create change and make progress toward the goals of the plan. Some of these advancements were coordinated by the Center for Sustainability. Others were facilitated by collaborative efforts through newly established bodies. Some strategies were adopted and championed by campus departments responsible for specific actions addressing planning, development, and operations on campus.
The Campus Sustainability Plan was envisioned from the beginning as a living document; one that would change over time as influenced by new technologies, best management practices, and strategic directions. With that in mind, the plan was re-evaluated and updated in 2016 to reflect advancements and new ways of thinking since its original publication in 2011.
Along with these updates, new priorities for each area have been established to provide direction for the next five years. These priorities capture approaches that can most effectively be implemented while having the greatest impact on advancing sustainability in operations, academics, and campus life.
Establishing these priorities is just the first step. Moving forward, the Center for Sustainability will work with the campus community to develop more concrete action plans for each priority, working with individuals, departments, and campus organizations that can assist with implementation. We must take a more strategic approach to advancing the goals of the plan, which requires involvement at all levels in all disciplines. They require us all to take responsibility and contribute our unique skills and perspectives.
As written in the opening letter from Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little in Building Sustainable Traditions, “For this plan to be successful, we must make sustainability an inherent part of everything we do at KU. We must integrate it into our day-to-day operations, and with the other major initiatives taking place at the university now and in the coming years.”