Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 70.76
Liaison Richard Johnson
Submission Date Oct. 13, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Rice University
PA-2: Sustainability Planning

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.25 / 4.00 Richard Johnson
Director of Sustainability
Facilities Engineering and Planning
"---" 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:

President Leebron outlined a 10-Point Plan in his Vision for the Second Century. Many of these points touch on sustainability. For example, one of the points focuses on engaging with the city of Houston to a greater extent—“Our ambition is to bring the city’s nonprofit and governmental organizations together with our talented undergraduates to work collectively on the range of pressing environmental, economic, social, and technological challenges in our community.”

Another key point is that Rice should foster collaborations that leverage its resources. “Much research at Rice is addressed to understanding and identifying solutions to a wide range of social problems, from the integration of immigrants to the design of effective political and social institutions. There are many potential partners in Houston for such policy-oriented research that we should seek out. Rice is well positioned to make a contribution to Houston and other cities through collaborative research and educational programs that focus on urban systems, sustainable energy, public policy, K-12 math and science education, and capacity-building for our city's nonprofit and civic sectors. As elaborated elsewhere, such research opportunities can greatly enhance the education of our students as well.”


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)? :
No

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

A copy of the climate action plan:
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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):

As described in an abstract for the SCUP-52 conference, "A static campus master plan cannot keep pace with today's dynamic pressures on institutions. A flexible campus planning toolset adapts to evolving land, financial, population, community, technology, and sustainability challenges. This session will discuss Rice University's pioneering master planning toolset that enables parametric exploration of any number of “what if?” campus development scenarios and outputs data on land use interrelationships to inform institutional strategic decision making. We will describe the benefits of a dynamic campus plan and outline Rice University's study process and critical components."

As described above, Rice chose to progress beyond the traditional static campus plan and create a dynamic campus planning model representing an integrated approach to campus planning. This model is referred to as the Integrated Campus Plan (ICP). Sustainability is a core principle embedded within this approach, and the model includes numerous sustainability-related metrics.

Further, Rice's Space Planning standards are a key component in driving the efficient use of buildings on campus, whether for renovations of existing buildings or the allocation of space in planned new buildings. https://facilities.rice.edu/sites/g/files/bxs1011/f/00%2000%2002%20Space%20Planning.pdf

Rice's planning for grounds and landscape is based in the March 2014 Landscape Framework Plan, prepared by Michael Vergason Landscape Architects.


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

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

In Fiscal Year 2011, the Rice University Office of Research issued an annual report with eight objectives for the following 12 months. The first objective listed was to “launch a five-year energy and environment initiative – the e-squared initiative – that is sustainable and well funded through diverse sources.” This is a measurable objective insofar as it either happened or it did not (and it did, becoming the Energy and Environment Initiative).

The Energy and Environment Initiative has since been created and is one of the
key university-wide research initiatives for Rice University. The mission, vision,
and objectives for this initiative can be found at http://eei.rice.edu/mission-vision/

The mission is “To engage the best of Rice’s multi-disciplinary research faculty and students in collaboration with industry, government, NGO’s, and private citizens to create the transformations required to meet the energy challenges of the future. Energy sustainability will require environmental, socio-economic, scientific, and engineering solutions. Sustainability requires environmental responsibility, energy security, affordability and transformative solutions to assure our future.”


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

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

President Leebron’s 10-Point Plan in the Vision for the Second Century called for more public engagement and coordination with other institutions in the Houston area. One of the metrics used for gauging this is hours of community service activities, some of which are related to sustainability. 54,922 hours of community services are reported in EN-13.

Further, in the Integrated Campus Plan, one of the objectives is to explore strategies to encourage University community engagement with the landscape, and another is to explore opportunities to leverage additional resources such as Hermann Park.


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:

Rice has identified a goal of becoming carbon neutral in 25 years (2038) and in achieving a 20% reduction in emissions in 10 years. Rice records and reports its carbon footprint accordingly.


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:

One measurable objective for buildings is attainment of a LEED-Silver rating at minimum for new construction, and LEED-certified for renovations constituting at least an entire floor or more than 25% of a building's square footage.

Also, the Climate Action Plan calls for building-level energy efficiency retrofits and adherence to stricter standards for energy efficiency for new construction, resulting in energy consumption by at least 30%.

The Integrated Campus Plan (ICP) includes the goal of pursuing the efficient and effective use of space in the building environment, with sustainability-related objectives including determining how to retire or reuse existing campus buildings, and to define multiple, simultaneous use for campus land and building spaces.

The Space Planning standards set specific assignable square footages for people by position type, and this has been used to increase the efficiency of how space is used in campus buildings, as the most sustainable space is that which you did not have to build. For example, the measurable objectives for space for staff is now 60-100 sf; for directors/managers, it's 100-120 sf; and for tenure track faculty is 150-165 sf.


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:

The aim is to reduce the energy use of each building by making energy efficiency improvements. (typically those with paybacks of 5 years or less). The Climate Action Plan calls for the following:

• building-level energy efficiency retrofits,
• adherence to stricter standards for energy efficiency for new construction,
• utility plant-level efficiency investments and operational adjustments,
• on-campus renewable energy investments,
• greener power procurement,
• continued decarbonization of electricity in Texas, and
• carbon sequestration through the University’s off-site timber plantation.

The Climate Action Plan in particular sets a measurable objective for energy in buildings of reducing energy consumption in existing buildings by 30%.

The Integrated Campus Plan (ICP) includes the ability to set EUI for a variety of campus facilities and then project total campus consumption, cost, demand, etc. for future planning scenarios. For example, academic buildings can target 135 kBTU/sf/yr, and 250 for labs, 115 for residential, etc.


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

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Food & Dining and the published plans in which each objective is included:
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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 integrated campus plan (ICP) includes the goal of optimizing current and future spaces, including green spaces, to meet environmental, recreational, and academic space needs. Within the objectives of meeting this goal are implementing sustainable landscape planning strategies, and protecting and enhancing the University as an arboretum through plant diversity and seasonal interest. A measurable objective would include that at least 57% of campus land shall remain as open space as part of the ICP. Another from the Landscape Framework Plan is the establishment of a greenway with 18 acre-feet of compensatory stormwater storage capacity.


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:

The Rice Integrated Climate and Energy Management Plan directly addresses procurement of renewable-sourced electricity.


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:

The Integrated Campus Plan (ICP) includes parking ratios as a key variable and shows the impact on campus if these ratios stay static while campus adds square footage and personnel. A measurable objective is a ratio of 0.77 campus parking capacity to population ratio. Another is that 90% of current surface parking is to be replaced by structured parking. The model then can show the impact that transportation demand management initiatives can have on land planning by reducing this parking ratio. Rice created the position of transportation demand manager in late 2016 to lead efforts to shift away from single occupancy vehicle commutes, which would enable reducing this parking ratio.


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

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

The Integrated Campus Plan (ICP) carefully considers stormwater detention and has triggered the recommendation for supplementing the present stormwater collection basin with low impact development (LID) strategies. The Landscape Framework Plan goes further to recommend that some of these strategies be used to reduce the use of potable water for irrigation. Within the ICP, the tool measures pervious and impervious surfaces, which are used to calculate the amount of stormwater facilities required. The Landscape Framework Plan set measurable objectives for stormwater on campus of 24 acre-feet of stormwater detention and 16-21 acre-feet of compensatory storage, for a total volume of 40-45 acre-feet to manage stormwater on campus.


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

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Diversity & Affordability and the published plans in which each objective is included:
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Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Investment & Finance?:
No

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Investment & Finance and the published plans in which each objective is included:
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Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Wellbeing & Work?:
No

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Wellbeing & Work and the published plans in which each objective is included:
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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 Rice University Board of Trustees approved the following sustainability policy in March 2004:

Rice University recognizes the critical importance of sustainability. Its present needs must be met while protecting the interests of future generations. The Shell Center for Sustainability, the Center for the Study of Environment and Society, the Environment & Energy Systems Institute and student organizations should be utilized to foster environmental consciousness and mitigate the University’s ecological footprint. Rice University works with students, faculty, and staff to improve environmental sensitivity. University practices will evolve along with the Rice community to keep abreast with changing needs and new technologies. The University believes that students who graduate from Rice need to understand the concepts of sustainability and possess a sense of responsibility for the future.


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

On October 11, 2007, Rice University President David Leebron signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), pledging that Rice University would develop a plan for becoming carbon neutral as a campus.


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.