Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 66.20
Liaison Kimberly Williams
Submission Date May 14, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v1.2

George Washington University
PAE-4: Sustainability Plan

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.00 / 3.00 Meghan Chapple
Director of Sustainability, Senior Advisor on University Sustainability Initiatives
Office of Sustainability
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Does the institution have a sustainability plan that meets the criteria for this credit?:

A brief description of how multiple stakeholder groups were involved in developing the plan:

In Spring 2012 GW launched its ecosystems strategy, which rolls up GW’s climate (“Climate Action Plan”) and water (“GWater Plan”) plans, and other actions into a systems approach to sustainability.

All three plans were developed using a formal stakeholder input process. The Office of Sustainability gathered input and feedback from students, faculty (across disciplines), staff (across divisions), and external experts on all three plans. Senior leaders at GW also reviewed the plans, as well as the Board of Trustees Committee on Sustainability. Stakeholder feedback helped the authors set realistic, yet ambitious goals. The authors have continued to engage these stakeholders through working groups for the implementation of the plans.

For each plan, internal and external stakeholders were consulted in developing the targets and goals. These groups included internal constituents such as GW Division of Operations (Facilities Services, Campus Planning and Design Review, Construction Project Management), Student Academic Support Services (GW Housing, Student Activities), Office of Procurement, Provost's Office and External Relations. In addition external groups ranging from the DC government, federal government and thought leaders were consulted in plan development.

A brief description of the plan’s measurable goals :

The purpose of the ecosystems strategy is to evaluate ecosystem services and set organizational targets to address GW’s impact and dependence on ecosystem services, and the organization’s position to mitigate risks and seize opportunities. Ecosystem services are the benefits that people get from nature such as water purification, climate regulation, pollination, and aesthetics.

After reviewing best practice on ecosystems services, the Office of Sustainability team determined that these six services were most relevant to GW:
1. Strengthen habitat and optimize natural space
2. Promote healthy air and climate
3. Foster clean and abundant fresh water
4. Support sustainable food production systems
5. Optimize waste decomposition and treatment
6. Encourage a natural urban environment that helps enhance physical, mental & social well-being
GW commits to reviewing its impact on and dependence on ecosystems locally, regionally, and globally, and to make a plan to enhance ecosystem services in these regions.

Highlights from Goals

•GW commits to enhancing the biological richness of the campus, and will start by drafting guidelines for outdoor space that are habitat friendly.
•GW commits to increase food sustainability by working with on campus vendors to promote green practices and to increase the transparency of our food sources.
•GW commits to sourcing products that reduce its impact on biodiversity, climate and water, and will start by drafting sustainable procurement policies for three major purchase categories (e.g. paper, electronics, water, etc.) by 2017.
•GW will develop a framework for integrating sustainability trends and issues into evaluation of strategic investment opportunities and risks, and will start by developing a policy for proxy voting by 2014.
•GW commits to becoming a Zero Waste campus in the long-term, and aims to increase recycling to 50% by 2017 and to reduce litter on campus.
•GW commits to connecting students and the GW community to the wealth of local natural areas through service projects and outings (e.g. Green Campus Walking Tours, treks to Chesapeake area natural areas, and integration of field studies into academic offerings).

In spring 2010, GW released its Climate Action Plan as part of the ACUPCC. The goals of the climate action plan are discussed in a later section, but include 40% greenhouse gas reductions by 2025 and carbon neutrality by 2040.

In spring 2011 GW released a comprehensive plan for water sustainability. The GWater Plan takes a holistic look at our water footprint. GW was one of the first universities to disclose its full water footprint and has set goals and targets to address its water sustainability across its potable water, rainfall capture, water quality and bottled water footprints.

Potable Water: Reduce total potable water consumption by 25% over 10 years from FY08 baseline

Adapt water saving infrastructure in campus facilities
Reuse all retained stormwater for greywater systems, cooling towers and irrigation
Encourage water conservation through programs such as Eco-Challenge and the Green Office Program

Rainfall Capture: Capture rainwater that falls on our campus -- zero run-off

Increase permeable space by 10% over 10 years from FY11 baseline
Pilot new technologies to harvest rainwater
Create rainfall capture &sequestration sites around campus

Wastewater: Reduce the amount of contaminants going into our campus waste water system -- zero pollution

Educate GW community on impacts of litter on our watershed
Promote responsible disposal of pharmaceuticals and other pollutants
Partner with local organizations who protect the surrounding watershed

Bottled Water: Reduce the use of bottled water on campus

Reduce direct expenditure on bottled water in university procurement by half over five years from FY11 baseline
Ensure all new constructions incorporate in-line filtration systems
Engage GW community to 'Take back the tap' and promote the use of reusable water bottles

A brief description of how progress in meeting the plan’s goals is measured:

Progress in all three plans is measured annually. The progress will be measured and reported through channels such as the GW sustainability report, STARS, and the ACUPCC reporting system for greenhouse gas emissions, and via the office's website.

Sample Projects Signifying Progress to Date:

Several projects on campus have already begun to address our ecosystems footprint.

Square 80 Plaza - This unique water reclamation park captures and retains all water that falls on the site. Through a network of cisterns, runnels, permeable surface and rain barrels, this 3/4 acre site highlights the technological possibilities for managing storm water, thus enhancing the urban environment. The Square 80 plaza is a participant in the SITES pilot program which is developing a certifications for outdoor spaces.

1959 E Street Green Roof - This pilot green roof on the Elliot School was proposed by students, and opened in fall 2008. The roof features hearty sedum plants, which help prevent storm water runoff, promote biodiversity and help combat the urban heat island effect. 

GroW Community Garden - The Food Justice Alliance student group manages an urban garden on campus. This garden features native vegetables and plants which require less watering, and the addition of vegetation to the campus provides habitat for animals and helps promote local, organic food. In the 2012 growing season, the GroW Garden donated over 1200 pounds of produce to a local food kitchen in the neighborhood.

The Green Office Network- Through outreach to faculty and staff on campus GW seeks to educate the GW community about their ecosystem impact and how they can reduce their waste, water and climate footprints.

Honeybees and Pollinator Garden - GW is home to an apiary on the main Foggy Bottom campus. This provides a home to Italian honeybees, and a professor in the Biology Department and student assistants conduct research on the health and travel patterns of the bees. In addition, a pollinator friendly garden was planted near the honeybees to help add food sources for them. 

Eco-Challenge - Now in its fifth year, this conservation challenge between residence halls encourages students to reduce their electricity and water usage.

Eco-Building - In Fall 2011, the university's Innovation Task Force, a committee launched by President Steven Knapp in 2009 to identify cost savings and new revenue for reinvestment in the university’s top academic priorities, accepted a the idea for the Eco-Building Program. The university’s Facilities Services and the Office of Sustainability are implementing and managing the Eco-Building Program on a block-by-block basis throughout the urban Foggy Bottom Campus. The first phase of the program has included making renovations in 12 buildings on the H Street block between 21st and 22nd streets such as replacing or updating old and inefficient heating and cooling systems; installing occupancy sensors, window film and smart power strips; and upgrading to more energy-efficient lighting.

The website URL where more information about the sustainability plan is available:
The year the plan was developed or last updated:

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 and complete the Data Inquiry Form.