Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 66.71
Liaison Greg Kozak
Submission Date March 6, 2020

STARS v2.2

Northwestern University
PA-2: Sustainability Planning

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.00 / 4.00 Sarah Tulga
Sustainability Program Coordinator
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have a published plan or plans that include measurable sustainability objectives that address sustainability in curriculum and/or research?:

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives related to academics and the plan(s) in which they are published:

The text below is sourced from ISEN's Strategic Plan: https://issuu.com/isen2/docs/isen-strategic-plan-2016-2020-press


The Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern (ISEN) advances global energy and sustainability solutions through transformational research, interdisciplinary education, and public engagement.

ISEN’s curriculum provides a sustainability- and energy-framework for students to apply to their major field of study during and beyond their time at Northwestern. Current ISEN undergraduate and graduate courses span topics in sustainability, energy systems and technology, energy use, clean tech entrepreneurship, and climate change. ISEN utilizes interdisciplinary faculty teams, intensive project- and laboratory-based learning, industry adjuncts, professional development seminars, global exchange programs, and student-to-student teaching to effectively deliver content. The Institute’s current curriculum offerings, which include the following, will continue to develop along with their growing popularity among students, teachers, and administrators:
1. NUvention: Energy is a graduate course in clean technology entrepreneurship in which students develop commercialization plans for University intellectual property or original projects, and pitch to an advisory board of industry experts. This program is offered in partnership with Northwestern’s Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
2. Powering the Future is a graduate-level seminar in which senior clean technology executives lead weekly discussions on current trends in electricity markets. Twenty-five highly qualified students across masters, PhD, and professional (law/business) programs are selected to participate in the seminar each year.
3. Technology, Business, and Policy of Energy Seminars is a quarterly rotating not-for-credit program taught by students who lecture on topics related to energy technology, finance, and policy. A leadership team of PhD and business students develop curriculum, with stipend support from ISEN.
4. ISEN’s seven-course undergraduate certificate program is designed for students interested in pursuing a comprehensive curriculum in sustainability and energy. Certificate students represent all six graduate schools, and nearly 20 majors and minors.

Building on the popularity of its current offerings, ISEN is developing new upper-level curriculum that will underpin two new ISEN education programs – an Energy Minor and a Sustainability Minor. Each minor will be designed to deliver practical insight that addresses the rapid pace of technological, financial, and policy innovation shaping global energy and sustainability industries, with a focus on case studies and other experiential projects to provide tangible context to the learning environment. Both minors will culminate in a capstone project.

In response to growing demand among students, ISEN is also expanding its social impact portfolio of sustainability programs in entrepreneurship and global engagement. To that end, ISEN is growing its internal and external partner network, pursuing and offering funding, and building a greater scope of opportunity for any Northwestern student with a passion for change, and the seed of an idea.

Measurable outcomes:

2019-2020 Institute for Energy and Sustainability at Northwestern (ISEN) Goals
-Secure endowed fiscal stability for the Institute, targeting a $40M+ gift


A key component of the mission of the Institute for Energy and Sustainability at Northwestern (ISEN) is the support of cutting-edge basic discovery and translational sciences for sustainability and energy research at the university.

With expertise across engineering, natural and social sciences, business, and law, ISEN builds Northwestern’s leadership in these critical fields: solar electricity and fuels, catalysis and green chemistry, sustainable materials, climate and carbon science, water, and resilient communities. ISEN leverages Northwestern’s culture of team-driven science to accelerate progress from discovery to application through its portfolio research centers, ISEN Flex Laboratory, and institutional alliances.
ISEN’s portfolio research centers continually advance sustainability research within diverse fields and include:
1. The Center for Catalysis and Surface Science (CCSS) is an ISEN research center that promotes interdisciplinary research fundamental to the discovery and atomistically-controlled synthesis of catalysts that optimize the sustainability of industrial and consumer goods.
2. The Argonne-Northwestern Solar Energy Research (ANSER) Center works to develop the fundamental understanding of molecules, materials and method necessary to create dramatically more efficient technologies for solar fuels and energy production.
3. The goal of the Solar Fuels Institute (SOFI) is to support the development of an efficient and cost-effective system that uses sunlight to produce a liquid fuel.
4. The Center for Advanced Materials for Energy and the Environment (CAMEE) focuses on discovering and developing new materials that can be used in energy production and conservation, or in environmental cleanup and remediation. Through the fields of chemistry and materials science, CAMEE researchers are investigating ways to convert wasted heat into electricity, clean up toxic metals, and extract minerals from our mines and oceans.

In its Flex Lab, ISEN will be supporting research including but not limited to: developing new catalysts designed to capture ambient carbon dioxide and convert it into methanol; improving the operation of carbon-free fuel cells; developing energy-neutral processes for chemical production; and researching environmentally-friendly methods for the extraction of lithium (an element commonly used in batteries).

To further the university’s commitment to applied research in sustainability, ISEN is expanding its institutional partnerships. In May 2016, Northwestern, ISEN, and Exelon Corporation signed a five-year Master Research Agreement (MRA) with a robust project portfolio including grid management and resilience, energy storage, and renewable technologies. The MRA, which is Northwestern’s first one with an electric power company, will fund a variety of clean energy projects for the next five years—and possibly beyond. ISEN is committed to expanding its research partnerships. For example, ISEN’s research alliance with The Nature Conservancy and Argonne National Laboratory to study urban water management in prairie lands just south of Chicago continues to develop. ISEN, in collaboration with Northwestern’s Center for Water Research, is also exploring a global research partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). While still in its infancy, the partnership will likely revolve around sustainable infrastructure management, urban flooding mitigation, sustainable construction materials education for policy makers, and sustainability-focused student research projects.

ISEN's objectives for research are as follows:
Solar Electricity and Fuels
We will develop the next generation of innovative, scalable solar technologies and accelerate the commercialization of solar liquid fuels.
1. TRANSLATE fundamental discovery and characterization of new classes of materials for solar capture, with a particular focus on perovskite and organic, polymer-based materials approaches, into applied innovation.
2. EXPAND the global consortium of university, national lab, and industry partners of the Solar Fuels Institute to develop and scale dramatically more efficient light-driven catalysts and related technologies for solar liquid fuels production by 2030.
3. COLLABORATE with researchers at Argonne National Laboratory, accessing world-class user instrumentation, computational facilities, and complementary materials science, chemical engineering, and chemistry expertise.

Catalysis and Green Chemistry
We will discover and characterize new catalysts that optimize the sustainability of industrial and consumer goods.
1. DISCOVER new catalysts that optimize the production of sustainable fuels and chemicals.
2. DEVELOP advanced synthesis processes that enable characterization of unstable catalytic intermediates.
3. TRANSLATE fundamental discovery science into applied innovation, in partnership with industry, including chemical and fuel producers.

Sustainable Materials
We will discover and develop materials that enable new efficiencies in industrial and consumer manufacturing, sustainable energy production, and environmental remediation.
1. INTEGRATE Northwestern’s systems design expertise to effectively advise industry on sustainable product development.
2. LEVERAGE high-power computational modeling platforms to design and create new materials with specific end-use goals.
3. EXPAND research into nanomaterials that can selectively harvest molecules and compounds for environmental remediation applications.

Climate and Carbon Science
We will discover more sustainable methods for the use of fossil fuel resources and improve our understanding and prediction of climate change impacts.
1. ANALYZE environmental impacts of past warming events and the feedback processes regulated by the natural carbon cycle.
2. STUDY risk mitigation methods for the extraction of unconventional carbon resources and novel chemical and geologic techniques for carbon capture and storage.
3. EVALUATE new approaches for climate adaptation and mitigation, including the economic implications of carbon industry regulation and investment.
4. PURSUE a network of CO2 monitoring stations to assess greenhouse gas emissions in urban settings.

We will design, simulate, and integrate innovative materials and engineered bioprocesses into water systems to achieve global solutions for regional and local water challenges.
1. LEVERAGE our materials and catalysis expertise to design new technologies for water monitoring and processing.
2. EXPLORE the dynamics of the water-energy nexus and associated technologies and innovative policy options that can unwind system interdependencies
3. INTEGRATE theory, data, and models to predict large-scale, long-term outcomes in complex water-energy-food ecosystems, and enable safe, efficient, and sustainable management of water remediation applications.
4. BUILD global partnerships that give Northwestern researchers access to diverse water environments to develop, test, and deploy water solutions.

Resilient Communities
We will discover, test, and scale infrastructure solutions that strengthen community resilience to climate change stressors.
1. DEVELOP new grid control mechanisms that enable greater penetration of distributed and renewable resources, including microgrids.
2. APPLY our understanding of complex ecosystem dynamics to implement natural, green infrastructure for urban and rural flood management.
3. PARTNER with the City of Chicago, a member of the 100 Resilient Cities Initiative, to iteratively test on-site solutions.

Does the institution have a published plan or plans that include measurable sustainability objectives that address student, employee, or community engagement for sustainability?:

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives related to engagement and the plan(s) in which they are published:

Below’s language is taken from the Strategic Sustainability Plan

Key initiatives and objectives:

5.1 Double the number of offices achieving green certification annually and increase their participation in sustainability initiatives. TARGET: 2020
-Participate in the Health and Benefits Fair each fall to promote the Green Office program. Annual
-Engage existing Green Office leaders in recruiting other staff members to participate. Annual
-Host workshops for Green Office participants to share best practices and maintain ongoing engagement. Engage at least 75% of certified offices. Annual
-Host celebration for certified offices to recognize leaders. Engage 75% of certified offices. Annual
-Host a lunch and learn for offices considering Green Office certification. Engage at least 20 staff members. Annual
-Develop and distribute signage, web, and social media content to help certified offices highlight their accomplishments. 2017
-Identify synergies with YourLife Wellness program. Ongoing
-Develop a my HR-LEARN training module for the Green Office Certification program. 2018
-Expand the website list of certified green offices to include profiles for each office. 2017
-Pilot an energy conservation office challenge. 2018
-Present about Green Office at the monthly HR Administrative meeting. Annual

5.2 Establish a Green Labs Program by 2020.
-Establish a multidisciplinary committee to set program objectives and guidelines. 2018
-Develop a Green Lab certification process and materials. 2017
-Pilot the Green Labs program with three lab spaces. 2017
-Engage at least ten new lab spaces in the Green Labs program from a 2017 baseline. Annual

5.3 Integrate sustainability into programs and learning opportunities for University staff. Ongoing
-Incorporate sustainability information into new staff orientation trainings and materials. Annual
-Participate in at least two staff events annually.
-Work with HR to develop a sustainability module in myHR-LEARN online training resources. 2018

5.4 Restructure Northwestern’s Eco-Reps Program as a means of engaging students in residence halls. TARGET: 2018
-Establish an effective partnership with Residential Life to develop the program structure. 2017
-Establish a recruitment and retention plan to ensure that an Eco-Rep is in place for each campus residence. 2017
-Establish annual program goals and allocate resources. 2017
-Establish a Green Room Certification program. 2019

5.5 Facilitate collaboration among sustainability-focused student organizations and their involvement with the wider University community. TARGET: 2017
-Conduct survey of student environmental and sustainability organizations. Annual
-Establish a Student Sustainability Roundtable to serve as a primary hub for collaboration, and convene regular meetings. Quarterly
-Identify synergies between student organizations and University academic and operational departments and implement joint projects. Ongoing

5.6 Engage students in sustainability-themed events and activities. TARGET: Ongoing
-Incorporate sustainability into Wildcat Welcome programming. Annual
-Partner with student organizations to increase the visibility of sustainability at athletic events. Ongoing
-Increase student participation in Green Cup. Annual
-Engage students in sustainability efforts through Earth Week programming. Annual

5.7 Incorporate sustainability into programs targeting student organizations. TARGET: 2020
-Reduce paper consumption at the SOURCE from the 2016 baseline. 2020
-Incorporate sustainability into trainings for student organizations and advisors. Annual
-Incorporate sustainability into student organization fairs. Annual
-Develop a guide to hosting more sustainable events. 2017

5.10 Increase the visibility of campus sustainability activities among students, faculty, staff, and other key stakeholders. TARGET: Ongoing
-Partner with operational and academic departments to distribute information about sustainability activities and initiatives. Annual
-Build readership of the sustainNU email newsletter. Annual
-Increase traffic to the sustainNU website. Annual

5.11 Promote Northwestern’s sustainability initiatives to audiences outside the University via publications and associations. TARGET: Ongoing
-Place stories in news outlets and other publications outside the University. Annual
-Distribute information about sustainNU activities through professional associations focused on sustainability or higher education. Annual

5.8 Collaborate with Northwestern’s host municipalities to engage community members in joint sustainability initiatives. TARGET: Ongoing
-Promote sustainability efforts through community events hosted by municipalities. Participate in at least two events annually. Annual
-Support Community and Neighborhood Relations/Government Relations in incorporating sustainability into community events hosted by the University. Annual
-Host sustainability event open to the broader community. Annual
-Connect the broader community with University resources that can help achieve sustainability goals. Annual

5.9 Partner with the Office of Alumni Relations and Development to build support for University sustainability initiatives.  TARGET: Ongoing
-Include sustainability content in alumni communications at least twice per year. Annual
-Identify opportunities to include sustainability in events for alumni such as reunion events. Annual

Does the institution have a published plan or plans that include measurable sustainability objectives that address sustainability in operations?:

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives related to operations and the plan(s) in which they are published:

1.15 Reduce scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent (from 2010 baseline) by
2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
-Audit campus-wide greenhouse gas emissions for scope 1, 2, and 3 to establish a baseline. 2017
-Develop standardized reporting mechanism for all departments to improve the tracking and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions. 2017
-Establish targeted reduction goals for scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions. 2018

1.16 Establish an institutional climate action plan by 2019.

1.8 Incorporate energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies into design and construction standards and equipment specifications by 2017.
-Review and update Design and Construction Standards to incorporate energy efficiency measures. 2017
-Review and update equipment specifications to meet the Sustainable Procurement Policy. 2017

1.9 Design new construction and renovations to use 50 percent less energy than required by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers standard (ASHRAE 90.1-2010).
-Require energy models for all new construction and renovation projects. Ongoing

1.10 Ensure that all new construction projects begun in 2017 or later achieve no less than Gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification v4.

1.11 Ensure that renovations of existing buildings achieve no less than Silver LEED certification v4 by 2020.
-Draft policies and procedures to support pre-requisites for certification process. 2018
-Develop LEED EBOM education and training program. 2018

3.7 Participate in the Real Food Challenge to achieve a 20 percent level of “real food” on campus by 2020.
-Identify opportunities to increase purchases which meet the goals of the Real Food Challenge. 2020

3.8 Increase the use of sustainable food served in University dining facilities to 20 percent from the 2016 baseline of total food purchases by 2020.
-Develop criteria to define sustainable food and tracking mechanisms for reporting purposes. 2017
-Establish baseline for sustainable food purchases. 2018
-Establish partnerships with suppliers, local farmers, and producers to increase sustainable food purchases. 2018
-Expand student farm programs (i.e. hydroponics, urban farming, etc.). 2019
-Develop a strategy to measure and increase sustainable food purchases through caterers and outside dining providers. 2019

3.9 Achieve Green Restaurant certification for all dining halls by 2017.
-Support Green Restaurant Certification process with dining provider. 2017

1.1 Establish an energy conservation policy by 2017.
-Draft energy conservation policy. 2017
-Submit draft to the Policy Review Committee for review and approval. 2017
-Finalize draft, send to University Policies and Publication Review Committee for approval. 2017
-Review, update, and assess policy effectiveness annually. Annual

1.2 Implement an energy management program based on ENERGY STAR® Guidelines for Energy Management. TARGET: 2016
-Establish a dedicated Energy Efficiency Committee (EEC), set program objectives, and commit to continuous improvement. 2016
-Complete Energy Management Assessment Matrix. 2016
-Audit Portfolio Manager data to identify improvement opportunities and ensure all utilities are benchmarked appropriately. 2017
-Assess kBtu/SF, per building type to identify level of performance. Monthly
-Establish action plan to improve energy efficiency throughout building portfolio. 2017
-Evaluate energy management program progress. Annual
-Submit ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Award application for program recognition. Annual

1.3 Implement an energy management information system that integrates with facilities maintenance and management software Facilities Connect by 2018.
-Develop and issue Request For Proposal (RFP) for EMIS. 2017
-Execute software contract and begin implementation. 2018
-Develop a utility production and distribution submetering master plan. 2019

1.4 Reduce energy consumption at Northwestern by 20 percent (from the 2010 baseline) by 2020.
-Monitor energy use intensity as part of Facility Management's Key Performance Indicators. 2020
-Execute energy efficiency projects identified in the Energy Management Program by the EEC. 2017
-Obtain applicable utility incentives and track project progress for payment. 2017

1.5 Establish a retro-commissioning and ongoing commissioning and optimization program by 2018.
-Draft RFP for program feasibility assessment. 2018
-Implement retro-commissioning and ongoing commissioning and optimization program. 2020

1.6 Increase on-site renewable-energy generation by installing one solar photovoltaic system per year with up to 100kW electric capacity. TARGET: Annual
-Require construction projects to implement an energy model determining the feasibility of a solar PV system. Ongoing
-Perform structural analysis of select buildings to determine ease of solar PV system installation. 2017
-Establish renewable energy systems preventative maintenance program and provide training by 2017.

1.7 Establish a renewable energy procurement plan by 2020.
-Pursue low carbon energy options for purchased electricity including wind, solar, and biomass. 2020

1.12 Audit water consumption to establish baseline and conservation goals.
-Document water consuming equipment, reverse osmosis processing, and monitoring devices. 2017

1.13 Establish a water conservation plan by 2018.
-Implement adaptive landscaping. 2018
-Execute a feasibility study of irrigations systems with a focus on harvesting rainwater for landscaping. 2018
-Incorporate low-flow fixtures into all new construction projects. Ongoing
-Submeter chiller plan for continuous commissioning and optimization. 2018
-Develop master water submetering plan. 2018

1.14 Increase the use of adaptive plants on campus by 100 percent by 2020.
-Coordinate implementation during the 2017 update of the Land Use Master Plan, and Landscaping and Site Design Standards. 2017


3.4 Establish procurement guidelines effective as of 2017 that prioritize the purchase of durable, reusable, recyclable, compostable, and/or environmentally conscious goods and services, thereby reducing waste.
-Audit procurement practices to identify opportunities to reduce waste. 2017
-Establish reduced packaging efforts and take-back programs with contractors and suppliers. 2018

3.5 Increase the purchase of environmentally preferable goods and services by 10 percent from the 2016 baseline by 2020.
-Establish a baseline for environmentally preferable goods and services purchased as defined in the Sustainable Procurement Guidelines. 2017
-Incentivize the purchase of energy efficient laboratory equipment in support of the Green Lab Certification Program. 2018
-Organize the iBuyNU catalog to prioritize visibility of environmentally preferable goods and services. 2017

3.6 Increase the purchase of postconsumer recycled content paper to 40 percent by 2020 and 60 percent by 2030.
-Establish a baseline for recycled content paper purchases. 2017
-Develop strategies to increase the percentage of recycled paper purchased. 2018

2.1 Increase campus commuters’ use of public transportation by 5 percent from the 2016 baseline by 2021.
-Establish baseline for the number of employees currently commuting via public transit. 2017
-Administer campus-wide Transportation Survey and publish results annually. Annual
-Develop a strategy to improve campus shuttle routes to address commuter needs. 2017
-Evaluate opportunities for the expansion of subsidy programs that provide transportation subsidies for faculty and staff. 2017
-Establish an emergency ride home program. 2017
-Develop a strategy to expand public transportation subsidy program. 2019
-Expand temporary parking permit options for those commuting via alternative modes. 2018
-Establish a transportation subsidy program for students. 2019

2.2 Increase participation in the Commuter Pre-Tax Transit benefit by 25 percent by fall 2018. 
-Establish baseline for the number of employees enrolled in the Commuter Pre-Tax Transit benefit. 2017
-Develop a strategy to increase the number of employees enrolled in the Commuter Pre-Tax Transit benefit. 2017
-Apply for EPA's Best Workplaces for Commuters recognition. 2018

2.3 Reduce the campus shuttle fleet’s greenhouse gas emissions by 100% from a baseline of 2017 by 2030.
-Establish a baseline for campus shuttle fleet emissions. 2017
-Develop a strategy to utilize biodiesel fuel in intercampus shuttle fleet. 2018
-Convert campus shuttle fleet to electric buses. 2020

2.4 Offset 100% greenhouse gas emissions associated with University-sponsored travel by 2021.
-Establish a baseline for emissions associated with sponsored travel. 2017
-Establish a policy that prioritizes sustainable travel practices for all sponsored travel. 2017
-Identify preferred environmentally-conscious transportation vendors. Ongoing
-Amend contracts with car share and rental car vendors to offer hybrid and electric vehicles. 2017

2.5 Transition the campus fleet to run exclusively on renewable energy by 2030.
-Establish baseline of existing fleet running on renewable fuels. 2017
-Develop a strategy to convert campus fleet to renewable fuel vehicles. 2018
-Establish a policy to purchase electric vehicles for all campus fleet. 2020

2.6 Increase bike commuting by 10 percent from 2016 baseline by 2021.
-Establish baseline for the number of employees currently commuting via bike. 2017
-Increase membership of Divvy bike share program. 2017
-Prioritize cycling and pedestrian transit during the 2017 update of the University’s Campus Circulation and Campus Transportation and Parking Plans to improve streets, pathways and infrastructure, including parking and storage. 2017
-Increase covered bike parking. 2017
-Assess feasibility of expanding bike share program. 2018

2.7 Achieve platinum-level Bicycle-Friendly University status from the League of American Bicyclists by 2018.
-Develop a strategy to achieve platinum status. 2017
-Leverage the University's Transportation Master Plan to support the development of protected bike lanes to and from campus. Ongoing
-Add a Commuter Pre-Tax benefit for bicyclists to Northwestern's commuter benefits program. 2018

2.8 Establish a bike management plan and program by 2019.
-Establish a Bike Program Coordinator position to oversee the Bike Management Program. 2019
-Develop a campus bike hub as a central location for cycling resources and bike repairs. 2020
-Install bike repair stations on the Chicago campus. 2017
-Develop a bike path map for better way-finding throughout campus. 2017
-Establish a tracking mechanism for bicycle accidents for annual reporting purposes. 2017

2.9 Provide new and renovate/retrofit existing parking facilities to increase and incentivize the use of environmentally sustainable transportation. TARGET: 2020
-Develop electric vehicle charging equipment specifications. 2017
-Identify additional locations in order to double electric vehicle charging stations. 2018
-Establish baseline of existing usage of discounted parking permits for hybrid and electric vehicles. 2017
-Increase awareness and usage of discounted parking permits for hybrid or electric vehicles. 2017
-Upgrade existing electric vehicle charging stations with smart technology to provide usage reporting and cost recovery. 2018

2.10 Establish an electric-vehicle charging policy by 2017.
-Maximize the use of electric vehicle charging stations by imposing time limits and establish cost recovery methods to support sustainable transportation. 2017

3.1 Increase our landfill diversion rate to 50% from 2009 baseline by 2020.
-Establish normalized metrics to include per capita diversion rate. 2017
-Complete solid waste audit to identify waste composition and opportunities for increased diversion. 2017
-Develop training protocols with custodial service provider for ongoing engagement of custodial staff in diversion efforts. 2017
-Establish cost-effective reusable serving ware option for retail, catering, and campus events. 2017
-Evaluate event reservation and catering forms to include sustainable options. 2017
-Increase awareness and usage of reusable serving ware by the campus community and event hosts. 2018
-Develop a strategy to increase compost collections. 2018
-Track tonnage of waste resulting from construction and demolition (C&D). 2018
-Establish a printing and copying policy. 2018
-Audit procurement practices to identify opportunities to reduce waste. 2019
-Track waste generation in ENERGY STAR's Portfolio Manager. Ongoing

3.2 Develop a systematic, centralized waste minimization program—including solid, universal, hazardous, and electronic waste—by 2017.
-Institutionalize comprehensive waste policy. 2017
-Increase awareness of best practices and opportunities for waste minimization. 2018

3.3 Establish a University surplus program by 2019.
-Develop a master plan to support the establishment of a surplus operation on campus. 2018
-Establish a protocol for Project Managers to repurpose, reuse, and salvage fixtures and furnishings. 2018
-Establish relationships and memorialize contracts for furniture surplus and donation outlets to channel items not needed on campus to others in the community and beyond. 2018
-Increase number of hydration stations to support reduced use of single-use bottles. Ongoing

Does the institution have a published plan or plans that include measurable sustainability objectives that address diversity, equity, and inclusion; sustainable investment/finance; or wellbeing?:

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives related to administration and the plan(s) in which they are published:

The text below is sourced from Northwestern's Strategic WE WILL Plan: http://www.northwestern.edu/strategic-plan/


The Northwestern University community is a complexity of connections—many uncommon, some unexpected—all spanning multiple dimensions and critical intersections. We pay close attention to keeping all those connections strong and are committed unconditionally to providing an optimal environment for every member of our community to learn from and collaborate with others regardless of their similarities or differences.

We are unwavering in our resolve that diversity at Northwestern means far more than disparate groups sharing common space. We celebrate and support a new and fully inclusive mainstream and believe that our diversity—in the fullest meaning of that word—enriches all areas of the community. Our vibrancy and vitality derive directly from the breadth of talent, training, and life experience found among our staff, faculty, students, and alumni.

We stay strong and effective through the shared excitement of discovery, the rewards of learning, our defining traditions, and the collective satisfaction of having a meaningful impact on the wider world.

Vitalize our community of faculty, staff, and students with our diversity of race and ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation, religion and geographic origin, political perspective and economic condition.

Create community gathering spaces where connections can be forged and strengthened and where wide-ranging informal and social interests and needs can be met.

Celebrate our University family connections frequently through established and new University-wide traditions that embody the full scope of the Northwestern identity.

Express our community spirit through shared activities and events in the arts, athletics, and academics as both participants and spectators.

Encourage and enable staff to contribute to the education and research missions of the University and to learn and advance in their individual careers.

Affirm our alumni as full-fledged members of our community and lifelong learners through distance education, participation in student mentoring, and on-campus events and reunions.

Ensure that all members of our community can access the advantages and amazingly rich resources of the Chicago area

The text below is sourced from the Campus Inclusion & Community Strategic Plan 2016-2022:

• We will validate the stories of our students by remembering the experiences of those who came before them, by creating spaces and opportunities for them to tell their stories, and by ensuring that counternarratives are known, heard, honored, and affirmed.
• We will enable students to build meaningful interpersonal relationships with those who are like and unlike them. We will integrate collective leadership and justice into the fabric of our community and empower students to find multiple spaces they can call their own.
• We will garner and raise awareness of resources and we will remove academic, financial, and psychosocial barriers to ensure that the fundamental needs of our students are met.
• We will create opportunities for students to learn about themselves within their physical, social, and historical contexts. We will integrate issues of power and privilege that exist interpersonally, as well as in systems and institutions, to inspire hope, collective action and, ultimately, change.

By 2020-2021, University commitment to have low-income students comprise 20% of the student body (“20% by 2020”).

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

The institution’s highest guiding document (upload):

Website URL where the institution’s highest guiding document is publicly available:
Which of the following best describes the inclusion of sustainability in the highest guiding document?:
Minor theme

The institution's sustainability plan (upload):

Website URL where the institution's sustainability plan is publicly available:
Does the institution have a formal statement in support of sustainability endorsed by its governing body?:

The formal statement in support of sustainability:

The Board of Trustees approved the University’s published Strategic Sustainability Plan, which supports and guides the University’s sustainability programs and identifies targets for reducing the University’s greenhouse gas emissions and waste; outlines strategies for increasing efficiency in energy, water, and resource use; offers measures for incorporating sustainability into University purchasing and operational practices; and sets goals for encouraging the participation of academic and operational stakeholders in the University community.

The institution’s definition of sustainability:

The University's Sustainability Commitment

Northwestern is committed to fostering environmental and ethical stewardship, to providing a living-learning environment that supports student-, faculty-, and staff-led green initiatives, and to improving our built environment and natural ecology.

As one of the world’s leading academic institutions, Northwestern strives to be exemplary in addressing sustainability, climate change, and the opportunities and challenges they pose. The University is dedicated to creating a greener campus by reducing waste, conserving water and energy, and promoting sustainable modes of transportation.
Northwestern recognizes the power of teaching and research to lead to increased awareness and public understanding, knowledge transfer, discoveries, and new technologies. We are commited to achieving the greatest impact by offering courses and supporting research and partnerships that focus on sustainability, renewable energy, water conservation, and climate change.

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

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

Northwestern University has made a number of formal sustainability commitments and endorsements. These include:

Northwestern’s President Morton Schapiro signed the Grand Coalition Statement on the Paris Agreement and vowed to “take forceful action and to ensure that the U.S. remains a global leader in reducing emissions.”


Northwestern University founded and committed to the Chicago Renewable Energy Challenge. In this formal commitment, the University is committed to “developing or supporting renewable energy to cover 100% of electricity needs in participating properties by 2034 or sooner for Chicago-based operations.”


Northwestern University endorsement of the Earth Charter is documented at the below website:


Northwestern University is a member of the US Chapter for the Sustainable Development Solutions Network which supports the UN SDGs. Additionally, Northwestern’s provost has published a leadership note indicating the Buffett Institute’s for Global Affairs Strategic Planning aligning with the SDGs.

Read the full note here:


Website URL where information about the institution’s sustainability planning efforts is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

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.