Overall Rating Reporter
Overall Score
Liaison Carol Rosskam
Submission Date May 28, 2021
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Northeastern University
PA-2: Sustainability Planning

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete Reporter Casey Shetterly
Special Projects - Sustainability
Facilities
"---" 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:

Northeastern 2025 is our blueprint for this networked university, one that empowers humans to be agile learners, thinkers, and creators, beyond the capacity of any machine. Put simply, not an Age of Robotics, an Age of Humanics. An age that integrates and elevates our human and technological capacities to meet the global challenge of our time: building sustainable human communities. By marshaling our strengths in globally networked learning and experiences, we will create innovations that only human minds are capable of, lighting the way for others to follow.


A copy of the strategic plan:
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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):

Sustainability has long been integrated into all our operations and been a focus of numerous strategic plans associated with Northeastern's operations from waste management addressing recycling and composting to procurement considering life cycle and local and minority owned contracts, and energy star certified appliances. Nearly all departments have internal planning and strategy documents that address sustainability issues and impact goals.

College of Professional Studies Strategic Plan
https://cps.northeastern.edu/about-the-college-of-professional-studies/strategic-plan/

D'Amore-McKim School of Business integrates global inclusivity to its missions and goals with an emphasis on the human experience and has a sustainability committee focused on addressing conservation, procurement and innovation.
https://damore-mckim.northeastern.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/DMSB_VisionBook_Web_edited7_19.pdf

Northeastern's Institutional Master Plan adopted in 2012 is a comprehensive plan addressing not only the physical environment of the institution but more importantly, how the institution can be a mutually beneficial partner in the City of Boston's goals for growth, equity and sustainability. In the document, the University addresses workforce development, transportation issues including a pedestrian friendly campus, Community and Public Benefits and specific sustainability issues such as stormwater management, green building policies and increased energy conservation.
Institutional Master Plan
http://www.bostonplans.org/getattachment/ed54a85f-8e13-4826-b1a6-2728a9604e20

The University is currently engaged in a Climate Vulnerability Assessment in which many aspects related to continuity of services and the built environment as related to a coastal city experiencing the impacts of climate change already. It will be used to inform facilities and operations of future priorities.


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:

Northeastern 2025 is our blueprint for this networked university... one that empowers humans to be agile learners, thinkers, and creators, beyond the capacity of any machine. Put simply, not an Age of Robotics, an Age of Humanics. An age that integrates and elevates our human and technological capacities to meet the global challenge of our time: building sustainable human communities. By marshaling our strengths in globally networked learning and experiences, we will create innovations that only human minds are capable of, lighting the way for others to follow.


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:

Northeastern 2025 will continue to build out research in its foundational themes of health, security, and sustainability—the global challenges that define the path to sustainable human communities. The university will achieve this by making the bold investments needed to create distinct pillars of excellence in select areas of use-inspired research.

The College of Professional Studies aims to meet the future of work head-on by providing lifelong, on-demand experiential learning in high-demand fields, with curricula that incorporate the full range of capacities—data literacy, technological literacy, and human literacy—needed to make people robot-proof throughout their lives and whatever their starting point.
https://cps.northeastern.edu/about-the-college-of-professional-studies/strategic-plan/


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:

The Institutional Management Plan directly addresses campus engagement as part of its efforts to develop a vibrant on campus community. The institution's history of developing from a predominantly commuter type school to the traditional campus style culture required significant investment in housing and the types of activities that would engage students on campus while taking advantage of being based in the center of a major metropolitan city. This includes developing outdoor spaces and places for students to gather, study and celebrate. It meant limiting parking and vehicles on campus and changing a culture which was centered around the car and people living far from campus. It developed neighborhood facilities and live and work corridors for the area and connectivity to open spaces and other areas of the City.


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:

The Institutional Management Plan, the primary strategic plan for University's mandates stakeholder engagement with the surrounding communities. Further as integral member of the City of Boston, Northeastern actively tries to leverage its resources as a benefit. This is completed through regular stakeholder meetings with neighborhood and community associations. Significant investment in transportation and other services have culminated in upgrades to the Ruggles MBTA station, the ISEC bridge will allowed easier access to campus and surrounding areas as well as improvements to Carter Field which has significantly increased recreational opportunities for area citizens and their families. These goals were addressed in various plans but have been part of the Institutional Master Plan and subsequent conversations with the stakeholder groups.


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:

The Institutional Master plan was the impetus to begin the steps needed to make the campus a more bike friendly and pedestrian friendly campus with connectors to the east and west side of campus for not only our community but for the neighborhoods that surround campus. This led to closing most of campus to vehicles, implementing an anti idling rule and developing our green spaces and arboretum.


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:

Northeastern committed to a silver LEED standard in 2012 with the Institutional Master Plan. Since then numerous objectives regarding energy and water consumption have been met, updated, and met again. Recently, the University has committed to newer and more challenging commitment to seek Gold LEED certification for all new construction.


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:

Northeastern University is on track to meet our commitment of 80% reduction in Metric Tons of Carbon Equivalent (MTCO2e) emissions from 2005 levels by 2050 on a gross square foot (gsf) basis of facilities-controlled buildings and transportation. Facilities Management is deeply committed to achieving these goals and plays a significant role in the policies, guidelines, and systems that helps Northeastern accelerate the greening of all its campuses through its Climate Action Plan. Northeastern University is carbon neutral through the procurement of carbon free, renewable energy credits from offsite wind energy generation facilities. The credits are equivalent to the electricity used on our campuses and are comparable to the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced from energy generated onsite for heating and cooling. Our leadership does not stop here, as we continue to implement new ideas and partner with our community on sustainability and resilience innovations. Northeastern will continue to offset our emissions while actively investing in reducing onsite energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.


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:

Dining has long had a commitment to Sustainability. They work with all departments to further that goal with initiatives that provide impact. Food and Dining are addressed in other goals indirectly through waste minimization, health and wellness, and community needs. Taken together all strategic plans on campus touch the integral position of dining. This has been reflected with trayless dining, green event planning, local food purchasing and even purchasing products from student entrepreneurs.


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:

Open campus areas must continue to be attractive, safe, and multi-functional, all while allowing for utilitarian purposes such as visual openness, free air movement, stormwater drainage or retention, and hidden utility corridors. Landscaping materials must be carefully considered for tolerance within the urban environment with little available sunlight and water, as well as exposure to hazards of urban life such as noxious fumes and residues. Open space and landscape design shall be an inherent part of meeting the university goals for a green and sustainable campus environment. This shall be accomplished through the use of native plant species and materials that are able to withstand the New England environment, harsh weather, varying temperatures, and wear and tear from coastal proximity.


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:

Purchasing considerations include issues such as energy efficiency, raw materials utilized, and manufacturing processes.All purchasing decisions for desk and laptop equipment are made in accordance with standards such as the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT).
https://facilities.northeastern.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/NU-Sustainable-Practices-Operations-Guidelines.pdf

We work to create opportunities for MBE (Minority Owned), DBE (Diverse Ownership), VBE (Veteran Owned), WBE (Woman Owned), and small (SBE/SLBE) local businesses near our campus in the Roxbury neighborhood through sales and service contracts. We are also an active and original member of Boston’s Pacesetters group.


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

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

Northeastern is located in a dense, urban environment with access to an abundance of public transportation. Services continued to be enhanced based on regular ridership surveys. Additional commitments to assess and upgrade our fleet to electric where possible has which serves its commitment to using alternative fueled vehicles and alternative forms of transportation


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:

Waste reduction is best accomplished through conservation efforts and both the Climate Action Plan and the Sustainable operations guidelines address both the front end of conserving but also goals for increased waste diversion from reducing dining trays to purchasing recyclable choices and increasing recycling through improved accessibility, signage and options.
https://facilities.northeastern.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/NEU-Sustainable-Action-Plan.pdf
https://facilities.northeastern.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/NU-Sustainable-Practices-Operations-Guidelines.pdf


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:

Increased heat waves and heavy precipitation events cause unequal distribution of water. Northeastern understands these water challenges, and has focused on long-term sustainability by taking innovative approaches to water management to help promote a healthy sustainable campus in the Charles River Watershed.

Most plans address water conservation per building construction and maintenance as well as reclamation approaches to water management. Included are the Guidelines for Capital Project Design, Institutional Master Plan, Climate Action Plan, and the NU Sustainable Operations Guidelines.

Additionally, landscaping and design specifics include Rainwater Harvesting, Stormwater designs including temporary holding tanks, Low Impact Development principles including green roofs and bio-swales, irrigation, and low flow conservation efforts.


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:

To help ensure that our learning communities are inclusive and diverse, Northeastern will invest in recruiting and retaining students, faculty, and staff from underrepresented groups.
https://www.northeastern.edu/academic-plan/plan/

The college partners with the national nonprofit founded in Boston, Year Up. Year Up Greater Boston participants can earn college credits for previous training and internships. The goal of Year Up Greater Boston is to move young adults from minimum wage jobs into meaningful careers.

https://northeastern.edu/diversity/action-plan/


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:

In answer to the 2025 Mission to invest in sustainability the University redirected funds from its endowment to sustainable industries and green funds.
https://news.northeastern.edu/2016/07/11/northeastern-to-invest-25-million-of-endowment-funds-in-environmental-sustainability/


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:

Of primary importance to the university is our diversity and inclusion goals and a number of plans have addressed this but the individual departments have been responsible for implanting programs and being accountable to meeting to those goals. These, among other sustainability focused objectives are often addressed in individual plans aligned with our Mission 2025 goals. https://hr.northeastern.edu/community/


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address other areas (e.g. arts and culture or technology)?:
Yes

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

Where no design goals exist for host locations, the goals and practices outlines within the NU Guidelines for Capital Project Design and Implementation, as well as the University Guidelines of Sustainable Practices and Operations Guidelines, shall provide the basis for design for all NU capital improvement and construction projects.


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:

Northeastern is a global, academic research university. Grounded in its signature cooperative education program, Northeastern today provides unprecedented experiential learning opportunities around the world. The university’s rapidly growing research enterprise is strategically aligned with three national and global imperatives: health, security, and sustainability.


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

In 2009, the following definition for sustainability at NU has been approved by the Executive Sustainability  Committee, to use as a decision making tool across the university:

     “At Northeastern University, sustainability is an ongoing process that harnesses the unique talents of  students,  faculty,  staff,  and  the  Northeastern  community  to  develop  technological,  economic,  and environmentally responsible policies and innovations that will balance the needs of present consumption  without sacrificing the needs of future generations”.


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

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

City of Boston Pacesetter Program
Green Ribbon Commission and Higher Education Working Group
Boston's BERDO - Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance
We are Still IN and Climate Action Pursuit toward Justice and Resilience
Green Chemistry Commitment


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