Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 68.78
Liaison Amber Saxton
Submission Date Sept. 9, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

George Mason University
EN-9: Community Partnerships

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.00 / 3.00 Tyler Orton
Projects Innovation Coordinator
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have at least one formal sustainability partnership with the local community that meets the criteria as “supportive”?:

A brief description of the institution’s supportive sustainability partnership(s) with the local community:

George Mason University (Mason) has numerous partnerships with the community at the local and national level on sustainability issues. Collaborations with the local counties include efforts such as the Mason Sustainability Institute, a program that empowers those in Northern Virginia to become sustainability stewards for their homes, communities, and the region; water quality monitoring; and assisting with the county's first greenhouse gas inventory. Mason provides educational material and interactive experiences to local K-12 schools on topics such as aquatic ecosystems; watershed protection; education about the Potomac River; and the benefits of going green with a focus on renewable energy sources. National partnerships include efforts such as the Washington Youth Summit on the Environment, a week-long summit that encourages and inspires 250 high school leaders from across the country who desire a unique experience focused on successful careers in this dynamic industry; joint research on wetlands mitigation; and lichen bio-monitoring. For more information, please refer to the URL below.

Does the institution have at least one formal sustainability partnership with the local community that meets the criteria as “collaborative”?:

A brief description of the institution's collaborative sustainability partnership(s):

Patriot Packout: http://relations.gmu.edu/community-relations/programs-and-services/patriot-pack-out/

Started in 2007 the Patriot Pack Out program has been donating food, clothes, and appliances to local non-proffits. In 2013 the Clock Tower Thrift Shop which benefits Northern Virginia Family Services estimates a revenue value of $33,994 toward their programs benefiting Fairfax County Families. In order to provide pickups for the donations, many areas of the campus are involved, including student groups, faculty and offices from across campus. This particular project focuses on the environmental impact of reducing waste and helps support economic welfare for people in Northern Virginia.

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute: http://olli.gmu.edu/

Since 1994, The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at George Mason University offers intellectual and cultural experiences in a welcoming atmosphere to Northern Virginia residents in their retirement years. Mason faculty as well as qualified OLLI members teach courses on economic and financial management as well as courses on the environment and sustainability such as The Impact of Climate Change, Taking Steps Towards Sustainability, and Wetland Studies and Solutions. OLLI is run by it's members as a non-profit and touches on economic, social and environmental aspects of sustainability.

Mason to Metro Bicycle Route: http://www.fairfaxva.gov/fairfax-mason-to-metro-bicycle-route

George Mason University, the City of Fairfax, Fairfax County and local citizens have been working together since 2010 to study bicycle improvements between Mason and the Vienna-Fairfax-GMU Metro station. The Fairfax Mason to Metro initiative includes recommendations for an improved sign system and map, on-road bicycle facilities and trail improvements. As well as the obvious environmental aspects of increasing bicycle ridership, biking offers a low cost alternative to driving and supports equity in the Fairfax community. Mason has provided staff resources to work with The City of Fairfax and Fairfax County to help foster a strong relationship and improve biking conditions in the Fairfax region.

Does the institution have at least one formal sustainability partnership with the local community that meets the criteria as “transformative”?:

A brief description of the institution's transformative sustainability partnership(s) with the local community:

Mason’s Environmental Science and Policy Department has been helping Fairfax County monitor water quality and living aquatic resources in Gunston Cove since 1984. The project currently resides in the Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center (PEREC). In 2003, Fairfax County received a “Clean Water Partner for the 21st Century” Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for this effort. This effort has now expanded to the Hunting Creek area of Alexandria under a cooperative contract with Alexandria Renew Enterprises.
The partnership supports economic prosperity, social equity and wellbeing, and ecological health by working to educate the community of the health of the waterscape ecology while helping to improve the water quality as it continues into the Chesapeake Bay. Improved water quality supports local fisheries in the Chesapeake Bay, to include the blue crab and oyster populations.
The institutions faculty and staff provide research and monitoring efforts that are invaluable to the partnerships goal.
Relevant stakeholder groups include:
Alexandria Renew Enterprises
Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia/Drexel University
City of Fairfax
Fairfax County [Virginia] Public Schools
Fairfax County [Virginia], Department of Public Works
Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin
Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments
National Park Service, National Capital Region
Prince William County [Virginia] Public Schools
Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority
Occoquan Watertrail League

It takes the participation of each of the stakeholder groups to complete the monitoring, reporting, cleanup, and policy advocacy/implementation of the local watershed. The partnership works to involve and educate the community and future scientist to promote institutionalized systemic change for the long-term.


A brief description of the institution’s sustainability partnerships with distant (i.e. non-local) communities:

George Mason University has many non-local partnerships across the globe. Through New Century College, Professor Michael Gilmore works with the Maijuna people of the Peruvian Amazon. Through this partnership, students have been able to travel to Maijuna lands to work on water quality and sanitation projects through the WASH project which allows students to be leaders in improving the sanitation conditions for the Maijuna people. Professor Gilmore has also worked to help the Maijuna protect their indigenous lands and take rapid biological inventories of their territory.

For more information: http://newsdesk.gmu.edu/2014/01/mason-team-helps-maijuna-clean-water-project-peruvian-amazon/ http://s3.amazonaws.com/chssweb/documents/9657/original/2012_NCC_Newsletter.pdf?1347297164

Chris Parsons, professor of Environmental Science and Policy, serves as a scientific advisor for the Panacetacea project in Panama. The organization manages many programs including workshops to train local boat operators to act in a more environmentally responsible way, especially around marine mammals; hosting school-visit programs; and producing and providing educational materials.

For more information: http://www.panacetacea.org/

The website URL where information about sustainability partnerships is available:
Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

Data is for FY14

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.