University of Texas Campus Sustainability Policy

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Type: Policy

Status: Issued on 4/22/08

Source File:


Section I. General Policy Guidelines

A. Policy Statement
The University of Texas at Austin seeks to create a disciplined culture of excellence that generates intellectual excitement, transforms lives, and develops leaders. The Commission of 125 defines this culture as “excellence in all University endeavors, characterized by strong leadership and an engaged intellectual community, combined with individual and institutional accountability.” This includes excellence in advancing environmental stewardship and sustainability on our campus, in our academic and research programs, and in our public service and outreach activities.

University policies, practices and curricula should, when possible, embody approaches that reduce life cycle costs, restore or maintain the functioning of natural systems, and enhance human well-being. Our decisions and actions will be guided by the University’s mission statement, reflective of the University’s resources, and informed by the Commission of 125 and the Campus Master Plan.

B. Scope
This policy applies to the main Campus, the J. J. Pickle Research Campus (PRC), and other sites as appropriate.

C. Definition
Sustainability refers to societal efforts that meet the needs of present users without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.Sustainability presumes that the planet’s resources are finite, and should be used conservatively, wisely, and equitably. Decisions and investments aimed to promote sustainability will simultaneously advance economic vitality, ecological integrity, and social welfare.

D. Implementation Principles

1. Academics: The University will strive for excellence in sustainability education and research by integrating sustainability concepts into curricula; supporting interdisciplinary scholarship, research and faculty hires; increasing faculty and student awareness of sustainability issues; and enhancing sustainability educational offerings. The University aims to produce scholars who are literate in sustainability, research that illuminates and advances sustainability, and graduates who will carry the mission of sustainability into the state, the nation and the world.

2. Operations: The University will comply with all relevant environmental laws and regulations and aspire to go beyond compliance by integrating values of sustainability, stewardship, and resource conservation into activities and services; make decisions, including staff hires, to improve the long-term quality and regenerative capacity of the environmental, social and economic systems that support the University’s activities and needs; engage in pollution prevention activities and develop and promote practices that maximize beneficial effects and minimize harmful effects of operations, research and activities on the surrounding environment; assess environmental impacts associated with activities; and develop and track measures of progress. The University’s goal is to maximize the efficiencies of its operations and services while minimizing its wastes and footprint.

3. Campus Planning: The University will evaluate the impact of its construction projects; incorporate green building and design methods; and consider the needs of future generations of the University community, including its greater Austin setting, in campus planning, with the goal of minimizing the environmental footprint of the campus.

4. Administration: The University will have sustainability goals that inform administrative policies and procedures in the areas of planning, decision-making, assessment, reporting, and alignment. These policies and procedures shall rely on scientific and technical analysis and support efforts to develop objectives and targets for operations, indicators, and measures to assure accountability, and reports on progress, with the overall goal of integrating knowledge of sustainability with actions to promote it.

5. Outreach: The University will share with outside communities the knowledge generated from sustainability research, education, and practice; help promote environmental awareness and natural resource conservation; interact with the global community through on and off-campus activities; and pursue efforts, including providing incentives, to engage outside communities in developing research and education programs that respond to their interests and needs for sustainable well-being, with the goal of promoting a global culture of sustainability.

6. Implementation: The University will establish near and longer term procedures and mechanisms, including an oversight structure, to review the status of each element of this policy and to ensure its implementation, with the goal of integrating informed and evolving practices for sustainability with the University’s mission of creating a disciplined culture of excellence.

For Assistance: Questions regarding this Policy should be directed to the Office of the Vice President for Employee and Campus Services or the Task Force for Sustainability.