Overall Rating Platinum - expired
Overall Score 85.05
Liaison Lisa Kilgore
Submission Date March 5, 2020
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Cornell University
EN-9: Staff Professional Development

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Sarah Carson
Director, Campus Sustainability Office
FS - Energy & Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution make available professional development and training opportunities in sustainability to all staff at least once per year?:

Does the institution wish to pursue Part 2 of this credit (the rate of employee participation in sustainability professional development and training)?:

Estimated percentage of regular staff (full-time and part-time) that participates annually in sustainability professional development and training that is either provided or supported by the institution (0, 1-24%, 25-49%, 50-74%, 75% or more):
75% or more

A brief description of any internal sustainability professional development and training opportunities that the institution makes available to staff:

Each year, the Campus Sustainability Office (CSO) offers two 3-hour sustainability sessions (intro & advanced) for Cornell's Management Academy (an opt-in professional development series). The sessions cover the importance of sustainability and climate change at Cornell, and cover personal and professional decision-making skills, including the Quadruple Bottom Line (our Sustainability Framework for Decision Making). We ask supervisors who are enrolled in the course to take what they have learned back to their units and institute sustainable practices and quadruple bottom line thinking. https://www.sustainablecampus.cornell.edu/blogs/news/posts/management-academy-spring-2018


CSO coordinates trainings and "brown bag lunches" with 10-20 office, departments, and colleges/divisions across campus throughout the year. Trainings take ~60-90 minutes, cover content from the Sustainability Management Academy course, and provide information & tools customized for specific units and departments.


The CSO participates in Cornell's annual "Staff Development Day," where we host training sessions on Community-Based Social Marketing, Sustainability initiatives at Cornell, "Green Your Office in Under an Hour," and Quadruple Bottom Line Decision Making. Our office also engages with hundreds of employees during the exhibition and discusses waste & energy policies, updates to campus sustainability initiatives, and ways to get involved on campus and bring sustainability into their workplace.


The Campus Sustainability Office partnered with local sustainability experts, Get Your Green Back Tompkins (GYGB), to provide training for 1000+ front-line Dining and Building Care staff. GYGB focused on concepts of energy efficiency, and discussed ways to bring that knowledge home by making their homes more energy efficient and taking advantage of NY State grant programs.


The CSO hosts an annual Green Team Summit (open to the entire Cornell community) where faculty, staff, and students are invited to attend numerous sustainability-focused lectures, workshops, poster sessions, and exhibitions. The CSO also hosts our annual Sustainable Cornell Summit (open to the entire Cornell community), where senior leaders present on the state of sustainability at Cornell, local/state/national experts present on current science and sustainability issues relevant to our community and beyond, Cornell researchers present recent findings, networking sessions connect people across campus, staff share new sustainable practices and procedures in their areas, our annual sustainability awards are presented by senior leaders, etc. Staff are also encouraged to participate in sustainability conferences hosted throughout the year by numerous partners, including the "Student Sustainability Summit" (hosted by ECO), the 2-day "Cornell Future Food Summit," the "Cornell Sustainability in Business Symposium," workshops during "People's Climate Week," and many more. Engaging in learning opportunities like these are encouraged and supported by Human Resources, and staff often receive financial support from their departments to attend sessions with any fees (or the fees are waived).

Cornell also runs "Turning Point" a five-day leadership program for front-line staff; it's a professional development program that aligns with the Cornell Skills for Success (in every staff member's job description), which includes several specific skills targeting sustainability competencies (see below for more details).

Cornell incorporated Sustainability into every staff member's job description through the Cornell's Skills for Success:
(1) Act and take initiative - Employees should “adopt a culture of sustainability and efficiency” and “take responsible risks to innovate seeking advancements in products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas.”

(2) Inclusion - Employees should “contribute positively to an inclusive environment” and “actively support work-life integration” (sustainable balance)

(3) Display sound judgment in problem solving - Employees should “assess environmental, economic, compliance, and social impacts in decision-making.”

(4) Support the organization’s shared vision and mission - Employees should “show commitment to unit and university goals in delivering results” including Cornell’s goal of carbon neutrality and sustainability plan goals.


Cornell partnered with Urban Green Council to provide updated training on NYS Energy Codes to appropriate and interested managers and staff.

Cornell's Energy Management Team trains facilities staff each year on energy conservation initiatives and practices, how to use our energy dashboard, and more. Cornell's R5 Operations Team also trains facilities staff and dining staff (and many more) on proper waste management, waste reduction strategies, etc.

Cornell's supervisor in-person and online trainings integrate sustainability concepts throughout their modules. For example, in a policy-related training provided to all supervisors provided by the Division of Financial Affairs, the trainers discuss policy 3.2 which includes considering low-carbon travel options when making traveling plans.

A brief description of any external professional development and training opportunities in sustainability that are supported by the institution(e.g. through payment, reimbursement, or subsidy):

Many faculty and staff members attend a variety of professional conferences, workshops, webinars etc. paid for or reimbursed by the university (e.g. AASHE, ISCN, SSC, NYCSHE, Greenbuild, Ivy+, etc.)

Estimated percentage of regular staff (full-time and part-time) for which sustainability is included in performance reviews (0, 1-24%, 25-49%, 50-74%, 75% or more) :

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.