Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 72.17
Liaison Toby Cain
Submission Date March 1, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Luther College
PA-2: Sustainability Planning

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.75 / 4.00 Toby Cain
Sustainability Coordinator
Center for Sustainable Communities
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

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

A brief description of how the institution’s strategic plan or equivalent guiding document addresses sustainability:

The Luther College Board of Regents approved a five-year strategic plan in February 2018. This new strategic plan — “Inspired. Empowered. Engaged.” builds upon principles that have been fundamental to Luther College since our founding in 1861. It also propels us to build on these principles to create, articulate, and deliver an educational experience for the 21st century. The goals and objectives of the strategic plan intersect and interrelate, creating a synergy of efforts by programs and offices across the college to build on our strengths and equip us to achieve our strategic priorities.

Each one of the four pillars of the new strategic plan emphasizes the importance of sustainability at Luther College. The following notes are passages from the Luther College Strategic Plan that directly relate to sustainability.

Goal 1: Learn and Lead
Luther College will be a national leader in reimagining a liberal arts education for a global society.
Objective 1.2, Activity 2. Launch a student leadership institute that builds leadership skills and intercultural competencies.

Goal 2: Thrive and Serve
Luther College will be a community of inspired, engaged, and resilient individuals empowered to thrive and serve in an ever-changing world.
Objective 2.4, Activity 2: Establish a Day of Service for students, faculty, and alumni to give back to their communities.

Goal 3: Include and Infuse
Luther College will be a community that champions inclusive excellence as a core value.
Objective 3.3, Activity 3: Implement a comprehensive first-year experience for all students that uses the framework of inclusive excellence to support student engagement and success.

Goal 4: Innovate and Steward
Luther College will be a leader in financial sustainability and stewardship to maximize the reach and impact of its mission.
Objective 4.4, Activity 1: Renew Commitment to Climate Action Plan and the goal of carbon neutrality by 2030.

The following introductory text from the Luther College Strategic Plan also highlights the institution's commitment to sustainability:
Luther College today is in a strong position, with much to celebrate. Ranked among the top 100 liberal arts colleges, we are nationally recognized for our foundational Paideia program, the number of our students awarded prestigious Fulbright scholarships, and the percentage of our students who study abroad. Our program in music enjoys international distinction, and we are leaders in environmental sustainability. Within months of graduation, nearly 100 percent of Luther graduates are employed, engaged in graduate or professional study, or involved in volunteer service. Our graduates push the frontiers of science; build thriving businesses; educate and nurture our children; address disease, poverty, and injustice; develop new technologies; protect the earth and promote sustainability; strengthen our faith; and create art and music that elevate our spirit and nourish our humanity.


A copy of the strategic plan:
The website URL where the strategic plan is publicly available:
Does the institution have a published sustainability plan (apart from what is reported above)? :
Yes

A copy of the sustainability plan:
The website URL where the sustainability plan is publicly available:
Does the institution have a published climate action plan (apart from what is reported above)? :
Yes

A copy of the climate action plan:
---

The website URL where the climate action plan is publicly available:
Does the institution have other published plans that address sustainability or include measurable sustainability objectives (e.g. campus master plan, physical campus plan, diversity plan, human resources plan)? :
Yes

A list of other published plans that address sustainability, including public website URLs (if available):

Luther College has defined the following Land Stewardship Plan: https://www.luther.edu/sustainability/assets/Luther_College_Land_Stewardship_Plan__Approved_Oct_29_2010_.pdf

Luther College commissioned an Energy Master Plan in February 2019 for delivery in October 2019.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Curriculum?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Curriculum and the published plans in which each objective is included:

In our Center for Sustainable Communities Strategic Plan one of our five major objectives is Applied and Integrated Learning: Work with faculty and staff to create place-based, experiential, and community-based learning opportunities that utilize high-impact pedagogical practices.

Luther College will make sustainability a part of every student’s learning experience while creating place-based, experiential, and community-based learning opportunities

1. Work with faculty to integrate sustainability into the curriculum
1.1 Utilize faculty development workshops and learning communities to create place-based, experiential, and community-based learning opportunities
1.2 Advocate for inclusion of sustainability (including social justice) in revisions to the general education curriculum
1.3 Increase the number of academic credit-earning internships and community-based learning opportunities by fostering and strengthening relationships with businesses and organizations
1.4Support student-faculty research on sustainability

2. Expand sustainability opportunities via co-curricular activities and organizations
2.1. Collaborate with other centers on campus and foster stronger connections with community groups
2.2. Create transformative learning opportunities like Endeavor Together and explore expanding the latter for all incoming students
2.3. Increase the number of non-academic credit-earning internships and community-based learning opportunities by fostering and strengthening relationships with businesses and organizations
2.4. Nurture the creation and persistence of sustainability-oriented student groups such as the former Environmental Concerns Organization (ECO)
2.5. Work with the Center for Global Learning to incorporate appropriate aspects of sustainability into each Study Away experience, calculate the related carbon footprints, and find ways for students to mitigate them

3. Strengthen sustainability education for pre K-12 students and attract more sustainability-focused students to attend Luther
3.1. Refine the Sustainability Scholars Program and secure funding to expand the program
3.2. Continue outreach and environmental education programming for various audiences including area teachers
3.3. Develop programming for middle school youth and high school students interested in sustainability and utilize our network of teachers, counselors, and alums to recruit more youth to enroll at Luther

4. Leverage campus operations as an opportunity for learning/research/innovation
4.1 Work with faculty and the new Center for Teaching and Learning to help faculty make curricular connections to the campus physical plant
4.2 Utilize data from campus operations for teaching and research


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Research?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Research and the published plans in which each objective is included:

One of the objectives in the Center for Sustainable Communities Strategic Plan is Applied and Integrated Learning: Work with faculty and staff to create place-based, experiential, and community-based learning opportunities that utilize high-impact pedagogical practices.

Goal 4 of this section of the strategic plan addresses research:
4. Leverage campus operations as an opportunity for learning/research/innovation
4.1 Work with faculty and the new Center for Teaching and Learning to help faculty make curricular connections to the campus physical plant
4.2 Utilize data from campus operations for teaching and research


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Campus Engagement?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Campus Engagement and the published plans in which each objective is included:

One of the five major sections of the Center for Sustainable Communities' new strategic plan is Campus Culture: The “feel” of the place, especially the student culture, and the many ways that sustainability and inclusion are evident and embraced by all campus stakeholders. From residence halls to the cafeteria, labs to playing fields, we want a sustainable campus culture.

Luther College will create a more sustainable culture where students, faculty, and staff live, learn, eat, and play.

A full list of the measurable sustainability objectives in this section of the strategic plan can be found in the document above, "Sustainability Strategic Plan 2019-2022."


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Public Engagement?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Public Engagement and the published plans in which each objective is included:

One of the five major sections of the Center for Sustainable Communities' new strategic plan is Community Resilience : Our work beyond campus to do sustainable community outreach and to assist communities and partner organizations to create and implement community resilience plans and projects.

Luther College will catalyze movement toward more sustainable communities in collaboration with community partners while creating experiential learning opportunities for students.

Objectives of this major goal include:
1. Help communities engage in resilience planning and implementation
2. Foster a regional approach to sustainability

Luther College's 2018 Strategic Plan includes the following measurable sustainability objectives that address Public Engagement:
"Advance campus-community relationships to ensure a mutually welcoming experience on campus and in the larger Decorah community."

"Leadership development through service will teach students how to use their strengths to work across differences in order to build community. Supporting each aspect of the experience is an emphasis on well-being that will teach students how to integrate their values and goals into lives and careers as servant leaders who are centered and resilient, empowered to serve the common good in an ever-changing world."


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Air & Climate?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Air & Climate and the published plans in which each objective is included:

Luther achieved a 50% reduction in our carbon footprint (relative to our 2003-2004 peak) in Fall 2016. We achieved 50% reduction in our waste production relative to our 2006 peak in Spring 2018. Our next goal is a 70% reduction by 2020 with the end goal of carbon neutrality by 2030. This is laid out in the Climate Action Plan.

One of the five major sections of the Center for Sustainable Communities' new strategic plan is Operational Sustainability : The nuts and bolts of our campus infrastructure including energy, waste, food, purchasing, transportation and all aspects of our physical campus.

Luther College will implement initiatives to be a regional leader in operational sustainability

Major measurable objectives in this section of the strategic plan include:
1. Achieve the 70% greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goal in Luther’s Climate Action Plan and develop strategies to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.
2. Develop and implement a zero-waste plan that continues reductions in landfill disposal (achieve 70% reduction from 2004 baseline by 2021 -- 2017-18 was more than 50% below baseline).
3. Increase the consumption of sustainably-produced food and expand food education for students, faculty, and staff by working with the Sodexo and other partners
4. Advocate for sustainability in all building projects (new or renovations), including Main and the Regents Center
5. Integrate and maintain sustainable practices in grounds management including a focus on enhanced opportunities for learning, recreation, and connection to place


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Buildings?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Buildings and the published plans in which each objective is included:

In our Climate Action Plan we state our commitment to making sure that all new construction and renovation projects are done to LEED Silver standards. Our forthcoming 2019-2022 strategic plan for the Center for Sustainable Communities reaffirms this commitment and offers several other objectives for sustainable building initiatives.

Luther College has a green building policy, linked in our OP credits.

One of the five major sections of the Center for Sustainable Communities' new strategic plan is Operational Sustainability : The nuts and bolts of our campus infrastructure including energy, waste, food, purchasing, transportation and all aspects of our physical campus.

Goal 4 of that section relates to buildings: 4. Advocate for sustainability in all building projects (new or renovations), including Main and the Regents Center


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Energy?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Energy and the published plans in which each objective is included:

One of the five major sections of the Center for Sustainable Communities' new strategic plan is Operational Sustainability, which includes energy goals.

Luther College will implement initiatives to be a regional leader in operational sustainability.

1. Achieve the 70% greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goal in Luther’s Climate Action Plan and develop strategies to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.
1.1. Research and implement projects to increase the efficiency of campus operations
1.2. Commission and implement a campus energy master plan that is consistent with our goal of carbon neutrality by 2030
1.3. Develop innovative financial partnerships to install more solar PV plus storage on campus
1.4. Implement a web-based building dashboard tool to educate the community about real time energy consumption and renewable energy production
1.5. Utilize campus networks to increase energy conservation through behavior change
1.6. Research the feasibility of carbon sequestration offsets developed in partnership with state and regional land conservation groups
1.7. Update Luther’s Climate Action Plan per the terms required by Second Nature
1.8. Enhance sustainability in transportation for students and employees as well as with college sponsored travel


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Food & Dining?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Food & Dining and the published plans in which each objective is included:

One of the five major sections of the Center for Sustainable Communities' new strategic plan is Operational Sustainability, which includes food and dining goals.

Luther College will increase the consumption of sustainably-produced food and expand food education for students, faculty, and staff by working with the Sodexo and other partners to:

1. Develop and implement sustainability goals and metrics for dining services that are related to specific food and dining goals in STARS and the Real Food Challenge
2. Set new numeric goals for local food procurement and meat purchases
3. Improve the quality of food and student satisfaction with campus dining
4. Develop a long-term staffing model for the College Farm that increases student responsibility while developing a sustainable business model

Additionally, we also have the following as campus operations goals:
Increase sustainable food purchasing in select food categories
-Dairy - 75% local (all dairy - milk, yogurt, soft-serve, ice cream, cheese)
-Meat - 50% local (pork and beef)
-Poultry - 20% local (turkey and chicken)
-Produce - 25% local (non-canned SnoPac, Gardens, Grown Locally)
-Coffee and Tea - 98% Fair Trade
Improve nutritional environment in campus eateries (e.g. making water the default beverage)
Reduce food waste in all campus venues


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Grounds?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Grounds and the published plans in which each objective is included:

The following land stewardship goals related to sustainability are included in our Center for Sustainable Communities strategic plan:

Integrate and maintain sustainable practices in grounds management including a focus on enhanced opportunities for learning, recreation, and connection to place.

Luther College also has its own Land Stewardship Plan, also included in the documentation in this section.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Purchasing?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Purchasing and the published plans in which each objective is included:

In our Center's strategic plan one major initiative is to "integrate and embed sustainability into the mission and operations of the college," including setting an example for sustainable purchasing practices.

The 2008 goal to purchase post consumer recycled content is reaffirmed in the 2016-2018 priorities document and we also have a policy for Energy Star appliances and technology.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Transportation?:
No

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Transportation and the published plans in which each objective is included:

One of the five major sections of the Center for Sustainable Communities' new strategic plan is Operational Sustainability, which includes transportation. We do not have specific measurable sustainability objectives related to transportation beyond our 2030 carbon neutral goal.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Waste?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Waste and the published plans in which each objective is included:

The second major goal in the Operational Sustainability section of our Center for Sustainable Communities strategic plan relates to waste.

1. Develop and implement a zero-waste plan that continues reductions in landfill disposal (achieve 70% reduction from 2004 baseline by 2021 -- 2017-18 was more than 50% below baseline).
1.1. Expand waste and recycling infrastructure to increase the amount of waste diversion
1.2. Educate all campus constituencies about our waste reduction goal and related GHG emission reductions
1.3. Explore elimination of single use, disposable containers on campus such as water bottles and packaging in the grab-n-go line
1.4. Work with all departments on purchasing and source reduction
1.5. Explore innovative partnerships such as community composting to leverage partnerships and economies of scale


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Water?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Water and the published plans in which each objective is included:

Our CSC Strategic Plan includes the following goals related to water: Promote best practices in stormwater management (e.g., permeable paving), water reduction (waterless urinals), and waste infrastructure, etc. for all building projects.

Our Land Stewardship Plan and Green Building Plan also mention sustainable water use.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Diversity & Affordability?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Diversity & Affordability and the published plans in which each objective is included:

Luther College's 2016-2018 Strategic Priorities document included the following:
- Hire and retain more faculty and staff from diverse backgrounds and enhance programming to foster inclusivity in the college community.

Luther College's new 2018-2023 strategic plan lists the following as major goals:
"We must become an inclusive community of welcome, equity, and justice
that goes beyond hospitality and fairness. We must find inspiration in a
diverse community and ensure that we are able to work across differences."

"We must establish a fiscally sustainable business model. We must innovate
and optimize our operations, investing in strategies that deliver on the
distinctive character and value of a Luther education."

"Goal 3: Include and Infuse
Luther College will be a community that champions inclusive excellence
as a core value.

Objective 3.1: Build inclusive excellence into the operations of all academic and
administrative units.
Activities:
1. Expand competencies and expertise in working across cultural differences.
2. Ensure that all academic and administrative units have resources that support ethnic, racial, gender, and sexual minorities.
3. Foster interreligious understanding to explore the meaning of faith and values in a globalized, pluralistic society.
4. Position Luther College as a regional resource and site of expertise in inclusive excellence.

Objective 3.2: Recreate institutional structures that support an inclusive campus
community.

Activities:
1. Restructure the Diversity Council to provide expertise on inclusive excellence, campus climate, and structural diversity.
2. Create an additional institutional resource on student persistence and retention by restructuring the Diversity Center.

3. Improve the accessibility of campus facilities.
Objective 3.3: Recruit, support, and retain a diverse faculty, staff, and student body.

Activities:
1. Design a cohesive, structural marketing and outreach model to diversify the faculty and staff.
2. Develop formal mentoring initiatives for underrepresented faculty, staff, and students.
3. Implement a comprehensive first-year experience for all students that uses the framework of inclusive excellence to support student engagement and success.
4. Advance campus-community relationships to ensure a mutually welcoming experience on campus and in the larger Decorah community."

Another key objective is to: "Increase the affordability of a Luther education by providing endowed scholarships that address demonstrated financial need gaps."


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Investment & Finance?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Investment & Finance and the published plans in which each objective is included:

Our Center for Sustainable Communities Strategic Plan sets the following priorities related to investment and finance:

1. Develop innovative financial partnerships to install more solar PV plus storage on campus.
2. Secure funding needed for the long-term health of the Center and implementation of this plan.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Wellbeing & Work?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Wellbeing & Work and the published plans in which each objective is included:

The 2018 Luther College Strategic Plan lists the following sustainability objectives related to wellbeing and work:
Objective 2.1: Revitalize systems and facilities that support wellness.
Activities:
1. Review campus policies and programming and implement changes that address
the culture of overcommitment for all members of the campus community.
2. Improve student well-being through an integrated approach to wellness, counseling, health, and academic support systems.
3. Expand initiatives and prevention education to foster a safe campus experience.
4. Renovate and expand facilities for athletic and recreational programming.

Objective 2.2: Equip students with the skills needed for vocational discernment and career readiness.
Activities:
1. Grow capacity for students to explore careers, identify applied learning opportunities, and build professional networks by expanding partnerships between the Career Center and other academic and administrative units.
2. Expand the student work program to coach and train students in soft skills and 21st-century career competencies.

Objective 2.3: Establish an institutional culture that values and supports professional development for faculty and staff.

Activities:
1. Create an internal leadership development program that enhances growth of faculty and
staff leaders.
2. Articulate career paths and succession plans for staff.
3. Increase endowed support for faculty scholarship.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address other areas (e.g. arts and culture or technology)?:
No

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address other areas and the published plans in which each objective is included:
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Does the institution have a formal statement in support of sustainability endorsed by its governing body (e.g. a mission statement that specifically includes sustainability and is endorsed by the Board of Trustees)? :
Yes

The formal statement in support of sustainability:

The last paragraph of Luther College's mission statement includes the following passage that directly references our commitment to sustainability:

As a residential college, Luther is a place of intersection. Founded where river, woodland, and prairie meet, we practice joyful stewardship of the resources that surround us, and we strive to be a community where students, faculty, and staff are enlivened and transformed by encounters with one another, by the exchange of ideas, and by the life of faith and learning.


The institution’s definition of sustainability (e.g. as included in a published statement or plan):

From the Center for Sustainable Communities' website:
"We recognize that sustainability goes hand in hand with a just, equitable, and prosperous society, and we work hard not only to green our campus practices but also to teach students through academic courses and campus life that creating a sustainable society is a responsibility that falls to each of us."


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

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

As a charter signatory of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, in 2017 President Carlson signed a joint statement released by the "We Are Still In" campaign coordinated by Second Nature. It asserts that:
1. In the absence of Federal support, states, cities, colleges and universities and businesses will pursue ambitious climate goals, to ensure that the U.S. remains a global leader in reducing emissions.
2. In the U.S., the actors that will provide the leadership necessary to meet our Paris commitment are found in city halls, state capitals, colleges and universities and businesses.
3. We will remain actively engaged with the international community as part of the global effort to hold warming to under 2°C and to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy that will benefit our security, prosperity, and health.


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
---

https://www.luther.edu/sustainability/assets/CSC_Strategic_Plan_web_2_2.pdf

The Center for Sustainable Communities has spent the last year developing a new Strategic Plan to carry us forward through the next three years. This plan has not yet been published but it was approved at the January 2019 Regents meeting by the Facilities and Sustainability Committee. A copy of this unpublished plan can be furnished upon request.

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.