Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 65.98
Liaison Audrey McSain
Submission Date Feb. 26, 2021

STARS v2.2

Lehigh University
EN-3: Student Life

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Audrey McSain
Sustainability Program Manager
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have an active student group focused on sustainability?:

Name and a brief description of the active student groups focused on sustainability:

Green Action, Engineers Without Borders, Community Growers, and Food Recovery Network are student groups whose interests are sustainability-focused or related. Their descriptions are below:

Green Action - is focused on reducing pollution of harmful chemicals, reducing global climate change, and reducing the depletion of vital natural resources, as well as promoting renewable energies, recycling, and discouraging environmentally irresponsible behaviors. Members of Green Action attend national and state-wide conferences to learn more about the environment, lobby US Senators, and protest America's less environmentally friendly activities. Green Action has performed waste audits, promoted plastic bag recycling and reusable take-out containers, among other actions.

Engineers without Borders - Started in 2002, Engineers Without Borders (EWB) is an international non-profit humanitarian organization that works to provide basic needs to communities in need. EWB is a multidisciplinary group of students, from all majors and programs, dedicated to learning about and tackling issues of global poverty, international development, and sustainability. Their mission is to both educate a new generation of students about global inequalities through workshops and presentations and to enable students to use this knowledge to design workable solutions to real life problems. The organization is composed of both university and professional chapters that focus on specific projects addressing issues such as providing clean water, education, sanitation, and renewable energy. EWB focuses on low cost, high impact projects.

To promote sustainability the organization partners with host communities on projects so that the communities can manage the systems autonomously in the future. The project gives students a range of experience from international relations to technical engineering skills. Today there are over 300 chapters and 12,000 members in the United States alone.

The projects EWB takes on are initiated by, and completed with, contributions from the host community working with the EWB project team. The organization has previously designed, funded, and implemented a small-scale water treatment project in Pueblo Nuevo, a village of approximately 1,500 people in northwestern Honduras.
URL: https://ewb.web.lehigh.edu/

Community Growers - Aim to take an innovative approach to community building and sustainable practices through the lens of the permaculture movement. They focus on three pillars of Permaculture, which are Earth Care, People Care, and Fair Share. Permaculture emphasizes the "edge", or where two different things meet, so our focus is primarily on community building in the Southside area. We have embodied each of our pillars in this light. For earth care, we take care of 3 community gardens bordering the Southside. For people care, we have an educational program with Boys & Girls Club of Bethlehem since the summer, and, when possible, an after-school program with Broughal Middle School. During these programs, we have had the children paint bricks to label our vegetables, made zucchini pizza and pickled our own cucumbers, taught them about composting and even had them compost with us in our garden. Finally, for fair share, the majority of our yields are donated to New Bethany food pantry to help those in the community without ready access to fresh produce. We are already in talks with Lehigh's Space Committee and hope to establish an educational Permaculture garden on campus so that Lehigh students can learn about its principles as well. We operate on the philosophy that "You don't have to leave your community to live in a better one". We find that our mission is unique in that we are encouraging community building around the garden so that Southside residents and Lehigh Students alike can have a personal stake in their community as well as learn more about growing their own food, which is a significant aspect of a more sustainable lifestyle.
URL: https://lehigh.campuslabs.com/engage/organization/CLIPpermacultureinitiative

Food Recovery Network - Brings together students on college campuses to fight waste and feed people by donating the extra food from their colleges to hungry Americans. Lehigh’s Food Recovery Network Chapter recovers food put out at dining locations, but was not used. Student volunteers pick up the food from dining locations across campus and donate it to feed hungry people at two local shelters and a soup kitchen. Lehigh donated over 1,500 pounds of food through the chapter during the 2017-2018 academic year.
URL: https://lehigh.campuslabs.com/engage/organization/FRN

Does the institution have a garden, farm, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery program, or an urban agriculture project where students are able to gain experience in organic agriculture and sustainable food systems?:

A brief description of the gardens, farms, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery programs, and/or urban agriculture projects:

Lehigh University has several urban agriculture projects where students are able to gain experience in organic agriculture and/or sustainable food systems. At present the University's South Side Initiative manages several community gardens on the South Side of Bethlehem, PA. The Office of Sustainability as manages one garden (approx. 1 acre)on the Lehigh University campus, and it provides plots of land in which students, faculty, and staff can grow organic food. This garden also reserves land for larger student projects, such as composting. This garden has a 16 panel solar array (each panel generates a maximum of 255 watts) that offsets the garden's water pump and part of the electricity for a nearby building. This garden recently recovered an acre of land next to it which will serve as a buffer between the garden and the corn/soy farming that is next to it.

The other gardens are located on city land and provide a space for students to work with members of the local community to grow fresh, healthy food. Currently the South Side Initiative's Community Gardens and Urban Agriculture Working Group and the Community Growers run programming out of these gardens for children from low-income families who rely on the Boys & Girls Club, as well as children from Broughal Middle School, and Big Brother, Big Sister. In these programs, university students grow, harvest, cook, and eat fresh and organically grown produce with program participants.

The Permaculture group, which created a permaculture garden next to the EcoHouse joined forces with the Community Growers Club and helped to redesign the beds in the Martin Luther King Community Garden according to permaculture principles.

Does the institution have a student-run enterprise that includes sustainability as part of its mission statement or stated purpose?:

A brief description of the student-run enterprises:


Does the institution have a sustainable investment fund, green revolving fund, or sustainable microfinance initiative through which students can develop socially, environmentally and fiscally responsible investment and financial skills?:

A brief description of the sustainable investment funds, green revolving funds or sustainable microfinance initiatives:

Lehigh has two different sustainable investment funds - the Sustainable Initiative Grant (formerly known as the Green Fund) and the Green Revolving Loan.

The Sustainable Initiative Grant, managed by the Lehigh Sustainability Council, was created to provide financial resources to members of the Lehigh community who want to create a greener, more environmentally sustainable campus. The Sustainable Initiative Grant provides one-time mini-grants up to $2,000 for students, faculty and staff to pilot innovative solutions to Lehigh’s sustainability challenges. It accepts applications on the first of the month and applicants are required to present on their pilot at the end of the academic year.

The Green Revolving Loan, managed by the Office of Sustainability, is an accelerator fund to maximize rapid infusion of sustainability into campus life and operations. It provides larger financial resources to departments for projects that advance Lehigh's sustainability performance. The fund accepts applications on a rolling basis. The loan must be re-paid over a certain time period.

Has the institution hosted a conference, speaker series, symposium, or similar event focused on sustainability during the previous three years that had students as the intended audience?:

A brief description of the conferences, speaker series, symposia, or similar events focused on sustainability:

Lehigh has three different lecture series that relate to sustainability and have students as the intended audience. More info on each below.

Keystone State Environmental Histories: A Public Lecture Series
This lecture series is open to the public but have students as the intended audience. Many professors bring their classes to the lectures with the intention of diversifying students' knowledge of environmental history. Topics cover energy supply, development of hiking trail system in PA, cities and forests, and the history of Earth Day. Students are invited to eat lunch with speakers and learn more about the topic.

Energy Systems Engineering Institute Seminar Series
The Energy Systems Seminar Series consists of a number of bi-weekly 1-hour talks by an energy expert from the industry or academia. The topics cover energy trends in key areas and new technologies. Since its inception in 2016, the topics have covered the rising role of natural gas as a reliable fuel to generate electricity and its role in transforming the energy sector, the reliance on nuclear power as a green source even as the industry struggles with abandoned new builds in the U.S., and the increasing role of distributed energy resources (DERs) -- rooftop solar, for example-- and their impact on energy choices. While the seminars are mainly intended for students, industry personnel are invited to the seminar series.
URLS: http://www.lehigh.edu/~inesei/events/seminar_series.html, https://engineering.lehigh.edu/https%3A/eventscalendar.lehigh.edu/department/energy_systems_engineering_institute/past-years/2018, https://engineering.lehigh.edu/events/current

Energy Systems Engineering Institute Distinguished Lecture Series
The focus of the DLS series is to examine in depth energy topics of current interest. This monthly seminar has in the past addressed the impact of climate change locally and means to ameliorate their effects; social and economic impacts of the state of Pennsylvania's pre-eminent position as large natural gas producer from fracking technology and the challenges of energy entrepreneurship.

Has the institution hosted a cultural arts event, installation, or performance focused on sustainability with the previous three years that had students as the intended audience?:

A brief description of the cultural arts events, installations, or performances focused on sustainability:

Trashion Show: An exhibition of clothing made entirely out of trash or recyclable materials. Students planned the event for the 2018 Recyclemania tournament, designed the clothing, and attended the show. Approximately 75-80 people attended the show.

The Art, Architecture and Design (AAD) Dept has moved from its current location to a new, energy efficient building (Bldg C) on the Mountaintop Campus. More room is available for student projects, especially those involving found or recycled objects.

In Spring 2018, artist in residence Karyn Olivier led students through a series of installation projects focusing on the environment, recycled objects, raising awareness of trees on campus.

In Spring 2019 AAD dept began a green printing program, where students can learn traditional printmaking techniques, yet free of the traditional harmful chemicals.

Does the institution have a wilderness or outdoors program that follow Leave No Trace principles?:

A brief description of the wilderness or outdoors programs that follow Leave No Trace principles:

The Outdoor Adventure Community promotes outdoors sports, activities, and responsible stewardship of our natural resources. Hall/Floor activities will appeal to a variety of interests and skill levels, from weekend camping trips to hiking and skiing to themed movie nights. The community goal is for individuals with a shared interest in nature to join together in outdoor activities and adventures, and to develop and spread their values of responsible management of our beautiful outdoor spaces and resources.

Has the institution had a sustainability-focused theme chosen for a themed semester, year, or first-year experience during the previous three years?:

A brief description of the sustainability-focused themes chosen for themed semesters, years, or first-year experiences:

As part of the first-year experience, students have the option of attending a faculty lecture during Orientation that addressed the issue of sustainability in the business field.

We also offer a 3-day pre-orientation program focused on sustainability called SustainabLEHIGH. Incoming freshmen and transfer students can jump start their education and college experience through SustainabLEHIGH, a pre-orientation experience, whose mission it is to introduce students to all facets of environmental sustainability.

Does the institution have a program through which students can learn sustainable life skills?:

A brief description of the programs through which students can learn sustainable life skills:

The Eco House is an environmentally themed community serving as a hub for people who value environmental awareness in their living space. As a close knit community sharing similar interests, the Eco House community plans to apply knowledge they have obtained from their studies to hands-on engineering projects in which they work as a team to exercise and expand upon their engineering skills to contribute to environmental awareness. Projects will include hosting campus speakers, building rockets, utilizing a solar shed and composting program, and making physical improvements to their house in order to minimize their impact on the environment. Members of the community collaborate with other campus organizations, such as Eco-Reps and Green Action, in order to engage the Lehigh community in sustainable programs.

This community existed in 2019-2020.

Does the institution offer sustainability-focused student employment opportunities?:

A brief description of the sustainability-focused student employment opportunities offered by the institution:

The Office of Sustainability provides student employment opportunities year-round to both undergraduate and graduate students. These employment opportunities are in support of achieving Lehigh's Sustainability Plan goals, creating a culture of sustainability, and providing students with skills that they can transfer to their professional careers.

Does the institution have a graduation pledge through which students pledge to consider social and environmental responsibility in future job and other decisions?:

A brief description of the graduation pledge(s):


A brief description of other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives that do not fall into one of the above categories:


Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

The data above was not impacted by COVID-19 and therefore is representative of a normal year.

The data above was not impacted by COVID-19 and therefore is representative of a normal year.

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.