Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 68.21
Liaison Jeremy King
Submission Date Sept. 19, 2022

STARS v2.2

Denison University
PA-2: Sustainability Planning

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.00 / 4.00 Jeremy King
Campus Sustainability Coordinator
Office of the President
"---" 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?:

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

These objectives are taken directly from the Campus Sustainability Plan.

Teaching, Education, and Research

As an educational institution that holds sustainability as one of our core values, Denison seeks to incorporate sustainability into the classroom and laboratory experiences of our students. The College offers numerous sustainability-­focused and sustainability­-related courses. Many faculty include sustainability concepts (including environmental, social, and economic sustainability) within their curricula through course topics and experiential or service learning components. An increasing number of faculty explore threads of sustainability within their research or through independent student research projects.

Goal 1 – Ensure that all students graduate from Denison with a clear understanding of the environmental, social, and economic principles of sustainability.

Goal 2 – Develop resources and enhance campus collaborations to support the inclusion of sustainability themes in the curriculum.

Goal 3 – Enhance the curriculum with additional sustainability­-related courses.

Goal 4 – Encourage (and track) sustainability­-related research.

Goal 5 – Maintain the Denison University Biological Reserve as a functional ecological landscape that provides habitat for native species and serves as a resource for sustainability-­related research and education.

Goal 6 – Increase off-campus study opportunities that provide insight and perspective into global sustainability issues.

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

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

These objectives are taken directly from the Campus Sustainability Plan.


Sustainability is a concept that can affect all aspects of the college experience, impacting both students and employees of the college. The integration of sustainability into the campus culture need not necessarily require new programs and activities. Rather sustainability should be a theme that encourages collaboration and communication among campus groups so that all can benefit from better utilization of limited resources.

Denison’s sustainability efforts cannot be limited to only the campus; sustainability also includes community outreach. Opportunities for civic engagement and service­-learning are vital to developing a broad and comprehensive view of sustainability that includes the environmental, economic and social implications of sustainable development.

Goal 1 – Build a stronger sense of campus community through increased communication and collaboration among campus groups.

Goal 2 – Increase engagement with the Central Ohio community through service-­learning, internships, research, programming, and strategic collaborations with other organizations and institutions.

Goal 3 – Leverage campus resources to increase local economic development by supporting local businesses and organizations.

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

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

These objectives are taken directly from the Campus Sustainability Plan.

Energy and Emissions

Over the past five years Denison eCO​2​ emissions* have averaged 79.4 million pounds annually. Approximately 80% of eCO​ emissions are directly caused by electricity use, heating, and cooling of campus buildings. In 2014, Denison stopped burning coal, replacing it with natural gas, effecting an immediate 20% drop in eCO​2​ emissions. Ultimately, complete elimination of Denison’s net emissions will require not only conservation, but also a transition to carbon-­neutral sources of heat and electricity.

Denison will need to evaluate its current use of buildings and develop ways to ensure that new and renovated buildings not only address the curricular and co­-curricular needs of the college, but that go beyond carbon neutral and help to reduce the carbon footprint of the college.

*Carbon dioxide equivalency (eCO​2)​ is a quantity that describes, for a given mixture of greenhouse gases, the amount of CO ​that would cause an equivalent amount warming.

Goal 1 – Enable better assessment and increase awareness in the campus community by collecting and disseminating data and information on campus energy use.

Goal 2 – Reduce overall energy consumption by establishing policies, educating the community, and encouraging proactive behavior.

Goal 3 – Continue to improve the energy­ efficiency and environmental sustainability of building operation and maintenance.

Goal 4 – Design, construct, and renovate buildings to a rigorous and innovative sustainability standard.

Goal 5 – Invest significantly in local sources of clean energy production to meet both current energy needs and the goal of carbon neutrality by 2030.


Denison is emerging as a national leader in sustainable campus dining. We currently source 27% of our food locally. We are committed to responsibly sourcing all of our food on campus. Responsible sourcing means: purchasing as much of our food locally as possible from producers we know; doing business with farms who don’t take advantage of their workers; buying foods produced sustainably in ways that protect the land and water; staying away from hormones and antibiotics that are used unnecessarily; and choosing foods that have lower carbon and water footprints.

Goal 1 – Source our food responsibly.

Goal 2 – Integrate residential health and wellness with sustainable dining efforts.

Goal 3 – Support the development and growth of local producers.

Other Campus Operations

Taken as a whole, campus operations are the single biggest component of our environmentally­-focused sustainability efforts. Many of these efforts go unnoticed by the campus community because they happen behind the scenes or in ways that have little or no noticeable impact to students, faculty and staff. This doesn’t lessen their importance, but does highlight a need to increase campus awareness about this critical aspect of building a sustainable campus.

Denison reduced water use by 10% (4 million gallons) per year since 2005 by upgrading to low flow alternatives and we use untreated well water and rainwater for our limited irrigation applications. The college is committed to maintaining the aesthetics of its campus grounds and has created a campus arboretum and a number of grow­ zones that reduce the need to mow many areas on campus.

Denison’s campus is pedestrian ­friendly. While the college is nearly 100% residential, 86% of faculty and staff commute to work each day. With a desire to increase off-­campus community engagement, particular attention will need to be placed on providing viable transportation options and alternatives that align with broader sustainability goals and benefit the whole community.

What campus does with its waste is and has been a continual problem. Recycling rates have leveled off at 25–30% with no discernible difference in the overall amount of material processed on campus. The college must find ways to minimize the waste stream and increase diversion rates from landfills.

Goal 1 – Treat campus waste responsibly by developing and utilizing responsible waste management practices.

Goal 2 – Reduce the use of water and the energy used to heat, transport, and treat water.

Goal 3 – Protect the local potable water supply.

Goal 4 – Reduce the impact of maintaining Denison’s campus landscape through the use of environmentally friendly landscaping practices and appropriate technology and maintenance practices.

Goal 5 – Move toward a more efficient and better managed University fleet.

Goal 6 – Reduce driving on campus while encouraging alternatives like ride sharing, biking, and walking.

Goal 7 – Evaluate and reduce the environmental impact of air travel by students, staff and faculty.

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?:

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

The Denison Forward Plan addresses diversity, equity, and inclusion for the college and aligns with the campus sustainability plan - https://denison.edu/forms/denison-forward-01-20-22

While many principles are embedded throughout our planning, five principles frame the action plan:

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion – Our work is focused on ensuring that every member of our community feels listened to, valued, and respected and has the opportunities to succeed at Denison.

Antiracism – Our work requires members of our community to be committed to doing their part to ensure that racism has no place on our campus.

Shared Responsibility – Our work will be guided by a shared equity leadership approach. We will scale our work by organizing teams across campus who take collective responsibility in developing and moving our IDEA agenda forward.

A Commitment – Our work will be ongoing. We must be committed for the long haul, driven by a continual process of learning, taking actions, assessing, refining our work and staying committed over time.

Accountability – We will instill a sense of accountability for progress at every level of the college.

The College has these goals/action areas that fall under our Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Antiracism efforts (IDEA).

Goal 1: Increase recruitment and retention of a diverse community of students, faculty, staff, trustees, and alumni volunteers.

Goal 2: Infuse professional development with opportunities to increase the intercultural knowledge and antiracism competence of Denison staff.

Goal 3: Embrace inclusive pedagogy as core to our academic enterprise.

Goal 4: Leverage our residential community to provide students with the opportunity to learn how to live and engage within a cross-cultural cohort.

Goal 5: Strive to ensure that all of our students have access to and opportunities to explore different career paths and to launch into their chosen careers.

Goal 6: Connect Denison’s financial decisions to our IDEA values.

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

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?:
Minor theme

The institution's sustainability plan (upload):

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?:

The formal statement in support of sustainability:

The institution’s definition of sustainability:

Denison is a community committed to being environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable. Each member of our campus community is empowered to be an active citizen, engaged in social change locally and globally. We integrate sustainability into teaching, learning, scholarship, and our daily lives. We recognize our responsibility to current and future generations. We consume mindfully and invest ethically, while maintaining the dynamic systems necessary to support a healthy, vibrant, and just global community. Our commitment to sustainability runs deep.

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

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

Denison signed the Carbon Commitment in 2010 and the Talloires Declaration in 2008.

Website URL where information about the institution’s sustainability planning efforts 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.