Overall Rating Platinum
Overall Score 86.35
Liaison Careen Arsenault
Submission Date March 3, 2022

STARS v2.2

Cornell University
PA-2: Sustainability Planning

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Sarah Carson(Zemanick)
Director, Campus Sustainability Office
FS - Energy & Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have a published plan or plans that include measurable sustainability objectives that address sustainability in curriculum and/or research?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives related to academics and the plan(s) in which they are published:

Sustainability is one of the Provost's strategic priorities with a detailed plan:
https://cpb-us-e1.wpmucdn.com/blogs.cornell.edu/dist/e/5276/files/2019/05/AC-sustainability.pdf

Specific recommendations in the plan fall under four categories, with sub-goals spelled out for each:
1. Focus interdisciplinary research on the UN Sustainable Development Goals
(SDGs), with an initial focus on the equitable distribution of food, energy, and water for a growing human population as this focus builds on existing Cornell strengths.
2. Fill critical intellectual gaps and enhance Cornell’s interdisciplinary
intellectual community with coordinated hires of eight senior faculty with
experience in bridging disciplines relevant to the system of systems analysis necessary to achieve the SDGs. New faculty lines would be available across campus; each position would be tenured in a department and have a 50% responsibility to the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future for at least 5 years.
3. Educate the next generation of sustainability professionals by creating a
university- wide graduate program in Sustainability Studies administered by the
Atkinson Center. Each graduate fellow would pursue interdisciplinary research, and would have fellowship support for two years, after which TA/RA support would be needed. The program would also provide fellowships for undergraduate research; small grants for graduate research; a seminar series and other networking opportunities; and training programs in communications, policy, and collaborations with non-academic organizations. The program would be piloted for five years and, if successful, endowment funds would be sought to maintain it.
4. Create organizational structures in the Atkinson Center to support large,
long-term interdisciplinary research programs that are co-created with nonacademic organizations whose mission is to change sustainability products, practices or policies. A professor of the practice or executive in residence position would build and maintain strategic partnerships with non-academic organizations to increase the impact of Cornell research. A program assessor and manager would provide tactical support to research teams. These staff would also support exchanges of personnel with stakeholder organizations; and help organize and staff topical working groups of 1-2 yr duration to produce strategic research reports that synthesize the policy-relevant state of-the-art and point toward a research agenda.

The Climate Action Plan 2016 update report, Options for Achieving a Carbon Neutral Campus by 2035, specifically includes objectives for creating a culture of sustainable behavior and advancing climate literacy for all students, faculty and staff, and ensuring that all students graduate with a basic understanding of climate literacy (https://sustainablecampus.cornell.edu/options-carbon-neutral-campus), and builds on the foundation of the Climate Action Plan - http://climateaction.cornell.edu.


Does the institution have a published plan or plans that include measurable sustainability objectives that address student, employee, or community engagement for sustainability?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives related to engagement and the plan(s) in which they are published:

The Sustainable Cornell Council Steering Cmtes create an annual Sustainability Plan which is a living document presented on the Sustainable Campus website. The SCC Education & Engagement Steering Committee goals, priorities and working groups are here: https://sustainablecampus.cornell.edu/our-leadership/governance/sustainable-cornell-council

Selected examples:
90% of Freshman are engaged by the Residential Sustainability Leaders and/or Compost Managers program

10% of campus offices are certified Green Offices

Sustainability is fully integrated into the annual performance management processes for all staff

All incoming students complete a climate and sustainability literacy orientation module, survey, and reflection


Does the institution have a published plan or plans that include measurable sustainability objectives that address sustainability in operations?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives related to operations and the plan(s) in which they are published:

The Sustainable Cornell Council Steering Cmtes create an annual Sustainability Plan which is a living document presented on the Sustainable Campus website. The SCC Campus Operations Steering Committee goals, priorities and working groups are here: https://sustainablecampus.cornell.edu/our-leadership/governance/sustainable-cornell-council

For example:
Obtain 100% of the campus' energy needs from renewable sources by 2035
Purchasing and Inventory Optimization
Improve procurement of building outfitting and systems maintenance inventory to reduce redundancy and waste in these systems, and improve the sustainability of core products such as building cleaning, lighting, etc.

Dining Operations Food Waste Reduction
Evaluate opportunities for food and other waste-minimization in both process and products in Dining Services back-of-house operations.


Does the institution have a published plan or plans that include measurable sustainability objectives that address diversity, equity, and inclusion; sustainable investment/finance; or wellbeing?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives related to administration and the plan(s) in which they are published:

Belonging at Cornell is a framework designed to continue the progress towards making Cornell a more diverse and inclusive environment. The framework aligns initiatives with clearly stated institution-wide objectives and metrics to track and foster a sense of belonging, fair treatment, and recommendation score along with workforce composition and retention metrics.
https://diversity.cornell.edu/belonging

Metrics: https://diversity.cornell.edu/metrics
Initiatives: https://diversity.cornell.edu/our-story/institutional-initiatives

Selected highlights:
Faculty Senate Antiracism Initiative
• Working Group S: Educational Requirement for Students, charged with developing a for-credit educational requirement for all undergraduate students on racism, bias and equity, presented a draft report to the Senate on December 16, 2020.
• Working Group F: A Required Educational Program for Faculty also presented their draft report to the Senate in December 2020. The proposed program would exceed the extensive library of diversity, equity and inclusion resources that already exist to include literacy programming.
• Working Group C: Developing an Antiracism Center presented its draft report at the January 20 Senate meeting.

College and School Initiatives
A sampling of the initiatives currently underway across Cornell includes the College of Human Ecology’s launch of a college-wide faculty cohort hire in social justice, called Pathways to Social Justice; the Diversity Entrepreneurship Program organized by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, which will welcome its first cohort of students in June 2021; courses such as Diversity and Inclusion: Emerging Trends - Recalibrating Diversity and Inclusion offered by the ILR School; and ONEComposer, supported by the Office of Engagement Initiatives and featuring ongoing performances celebrating musicians whose contributions have been historically erased; and the Cornell Orchestras BLM Speaker Series. These and other initiatives join our annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Lecture to be held on March 1, with speaker Ijeoma Oluo.

American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program (AIISP) ongoing research on Cornell’s land-grant history, in which Cornell received appropriated Indigenous land from the federal government under the Morrill Act and accrued significant financial benefit from that land, to develop a deeper understanding of this history. A number of other initiatives are being developed, including advancing recruitment of Native American undergraduate students and efforts by eCornell to increase the participation of the Native American and Indigenous community in their programs, particularly around entrepreneurship and management, and several additional new faculty who work in Native American and Indigenous issues.

Staff Initiatives
A six-part certificate course, Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Cornell, is underway and will be taken by all benefits eligible staff on campus.

Cornell has instituted a moratorium on fossil fuel investments: https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2020/05/cornell-announces-moratorium-fossil-fuel-investments

The proportion of the endowment under management by organizations with formal ESG policies and frameworks is steadily increasing, reaching 70.8% in December of 2019. Another 8.7% is currently managed in accounts where UNPRI or other ESG policies/frameworks are not directly relevant, including accounts with primarily cash and U.S. Treasury holdings. In combination, these two categories represent about 80% of current endowment holdings. https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2020/02/fossil-fuel-divestment-faq-cornell-community

Cornell University Board of Trustees approved a standard that will guide its decisions on divesting university funds for socially responsible reasons: https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2016/02/trustees-approve-new-standard-consider-divestment


Does the institution have a published strategic plan or equivalent guiding document that includes sustainability at a high level? :
Yes

The institution’s highest guiding document (upload):
Website URL where the institution’s highest guiding document is publicly available:
Which of the following best describes the inclusion of sustainability in the highest guiding document?:
Major theme

The institution's sustainability plan (upload):
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Website URL where the institution's sustainability plan is publicly available:
Does the institution have a formal statement in support of sustainability endorsed by its governing body?:
Yes

The formal statement in support of sustainability:

In 2019, the university adopted a set of six core values that will serve as the foundation for a more equitable and inclusive atmosphere for all Cornell campuses. Relevant values include:

Respect for the Natural Environment: We value our role in advancing solutions for a sustainable future and we recognize the close relationship between people and the Earth, acting in ways to live and work sustainably.

A Community of Belonging: As a university founded to be a place where “…any person can find instruction…,” we value diversity and inclusion, and we strive to be a welcoming, caring, and equitable community where students, faculty, and staff with different backgrounds, perspectives, abilities, and experiences can learn, innovate, and work in an environment of respect, and feel empowered to engage in any community conversation.

Changing Lives through Public Engagement: As the land-grant institution of New York, with our main campus within the ancestral homelands of the Cayuga Nation and a long history of national and international connections, we value engagement in our community, our state, and the broader world, learning about their needs and strengths, and applying the knowledge we create for the benefit of society.

The uploaded sustainability strategic plan is the relevant section of the highest level plan – the Provost’s Radical Collaborations - https://provost.cornell.edu/academic-initiatives/radical-collaboration/ A combined pdf does not exist.


The institution’s definition of sustainability:

As a world leader in sustainability, Cornell University is a committed steward of the Earth and its people. From innovation to public engagement, Cornellians are balancing today’s economic, environmental, and social issues with related needs of the future.

https://sustainability.cornell.edu/


Is the institution an endorser or signatory of the following? :
Yes or No
The Earth Charter No
The Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI) No
ISCN-GULF Sustainable Campus Charter No
Pan-Canadian Protocol for Sustainability No
SDG Accord No
Second Nature’s Carbon Commitment (formerly known as the ACUPCC), Resilience Commitment, and/or integrated Climate Commitment Yes
The Talloires Declaration (TD) No
UN Global Compact No
Other multi-dimensional sustainability commitments (please specify below) Yes

A brief description of the institution’s formal sustainability commitments, including the specific initiatives selected above:

Cornell is a signatory of the Second Nature Carbon Commitment with a goal of achieving carbon neutrality on its main Ithaca campus by 2035.

In 2021 Cornell joined with the City of Ithaca and the Town of Ithaca to form the Finger Lakes Energy Compact, a campus-regional partnership committed to promoting efficient, innovative and accessible energy, and reach carbon neutrality, community-wide, by the early 2030s. It is part of a new international initiative overseen by the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals Program, with compact members sharing solutions to achieve the goals of the U.N.’s SDG Acceleration Actions and the Paris Agreement, a legally binding international treaty on climate change to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius. The compact will combine Cornell’s research initiatives and campus efforts in renewable energy and energy efficiency with the City of Ithaca and the Town of Ithaca’s ambitions for a Green New Deal. Together, they will support the adoption of clean and efficient energy, the acceleration of new energy technologies and a just approach to energy access.

International Universities Climate Alliance: The Climate Alliance seeks to support global leaders to meet this challenge through sharing evidence-based information on climate research. https://www.universitiesforclimate.org/


Website URL where information about the institution’s sustainability planning efforts is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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