Overall Rating Reporter
Overall Score
Liaison Mark Bremer
Submission Date March 30, 2021
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

State University of New York Polytechnic Institute
EN-6: Assessing Sustainability Culture

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete Reporter Mark Bremer
Lecturer & Green Team Chair
Arts & Sciences
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution conduct an assessment of sustainability culture (i.e. the assessment focuses on sustainability values, behaviors and beliefs, and may also address awareness of campus sustainability initiatives)?:

Which of the following best describes the cultural assessment? The assessment is administered to::
The entire campus community (students, staff and faculty), directly or by representative sample

Which of the following best describes the structure of the cultural assessment? The assessment is administered::
Without a follow-up assessment of the same cohort or representative samples of the same population

A brief description of how and when the cultural assessment(s) were developed and/or adopted:

SUNY Poly conducted research regarding student and employee perceptions of sustainability on campus.
The purpose of this survey was to determine how people at SUNY Poly view sustainability and behaviors related to energy conservation, recycling, and other sustainability topics. For this survey, sustainability was defined as efforts that have a positive impact on the environment, society, and the economy, and campus sustainability was considered efforts that minimize resource consumption in order to have a positive impact on the environment, society, and the economy.

The information gathered from the survey contributed to SUNY Poly’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) report for the Assessing Sustainability Culture credit, and was used to create
educational programming related to sustainability on the SUNY Poly campus. The survey also contributed to a SUNY ESF PhD student’s dissertation research.

A copy or sample of the questions related to sustainability culture:

A sample of the questions related to sustainability culture or the website URL where the assessment tool is available:

We’d like to know more about the sustainability actions you've taken on campus. On a scale of 1 to 7
where 1 is "Strongly disagree" and 7 is "Strongly agree", please choose your level of agreement with each
statement below.
agree nor
I consider the impact my actions will have on sustainability issues while on campus.
I act in ways that have a positive impact on sustainability issues while on campus.
I encourage other people to adopt sustainability behaviors on campus.
I turn off lights when I leave an unoccupied room on campus when I can.
I use natural daylight instead of artificial lights on campus when I can.
I power down my computer and other electronic equipment at the end of the day
on campus when I can.
I try to minimize the amount of electricity I use on campus when I can.
I recycle paper, plastic, and metal waste on campus when I can.
I use a reusable water bottle or mug on campus when I can.
I bring my own water bottle, mug, and/or utensils to events on campus when I can.
I try to minimize the amount of waste I generate on campus when I can.
I walk, bike, carpool, or take public transit to campus when I can.
I minimize my consumption of meat, dairy, and other animal products on campus when I can.
(Please consider this whether you buy food on
campus or bring food from off campus.)

I eat locally grown or organic food on campus when I can.
(Please consider this whether you buy food on campus or bring food from off campus.)

A brief description of how representative samples were reached (if applicable) and how the cultural assessment is administered:

The survey was administered online through SurveyMonkey. Participation in this survey was voluntary. Participation in the study required answering a variety of questions related to perceptions of sustainability and sustainability related behaviors on campus. Completing the questionnaire took approximately 20 minutes.

Answers remained anonymous and responses were not be linked to an individuals. Participants could stop
the questionnaire at any time by clicking "Exit" or could refuse to answer any questions. Withdrawing from the project will not result in any negative consequences for participants.

Participation in this survey posed very little risk. The questions being asked relate to personal behaviors and attitudes toward sustainability. There is a small risk that answering certain questions about sustainability behaviors could make one uncomfortable if one felt like the behavior was being judged.

Whenever one works with email or the internet; there is always the risk of compromising privacy,
confidentiality, and/or anonymity. Confidentiality was maintained to the degree permitted by the technology being used. No guarantees were made regarding the interception of data sent via the internet by third parties.

A brief summary of results from the cultural assessment, including a description of any measurable changes over time:

The results of the sustainability culture assessment described below include an analysis of data from the culture assessment conducted in Spring 2018. The results will be compared to future sustainability culture assessments in order to track changes over time.

The sustainability culture assessment indicated that students and employees have fairly high levels of self-reported sustainability-related behaviors (mean value of 5.30 on a 7-point scale). Waste reduction behaviors scored the highest of the behavioral categories (mean value of 5.91), followed by energy conservation behaviors (mean value of 5.67), and general sustainability behaviors (mean value of 5.54).

Recycling was the highest single behavior, with a mean value of 6.52. Turning off the lights when leaving
an unoccupied room was the second highest scoring single behavior (mean value of 6.21) and minimizing waste was the third highest single behavior (mean value of 5.93). This demonstrates that the

College’s efforts to promote waste reduction and energy conservation have been successful among survey respondents.

Alternative transportation behaviors scored the lowest with a mean value of 3.10. Students (mean value of 5.22) reported statistically significant (p < .001) and substantially (η = 0.592) higher levels of alternative transportation behaviors compared to employees (mean value of 2.52) when analyzed with analysis of variance (ANOVA). This indicates that programs encouraging employees to walk, bike, carpool, or take public transit could potentially make improvements in this area.

Food choice behaviors scored the second lowest of the behavioral categories (mean value of 4.10) with eating a plant-based diet (mean value of 3.62) and eating local & organic foods (mean value of 4.57) being a low scoring behaviors. This indicates that more access to and promotion of plant-based, local, and organic foods could be beneficial for improving food-related sustainability behaviors on campus.

Both employees (mean value of 5.61) and students (mean value of 6.13) had relatively high levels of positive attitudes toward sustainability behaviors. Although students’ attitudes were slightly higher compared to employees, the difference was not statistically significant was analyzed with ANOVA.
Respondents’ general sustainability attitudes were high (mean value of 6.19) as were their attitudes toward campus sustainability (mean value of 6.32).

Both employees (mean value of 4.27) and students (mean value of 4.12) had relatively low levels of perceptions of SUNY Poly’s sustainability efforts (organizational climate for sustainability), with their perceptions of SUNY Poly’s communication and support of sustainability being particularly low (mean
value of 3.99). This indicates that more outreach to employees and students about the university’s

sustainability efforts could increase awareness in this area among employees and students.

Similarly, employee and student perceptions of social norms related to sustainability were somewhat low (mean value of 4.58) compared with respondents’ self-reported sustainability behaviors. Although the respondents report engaging in sustainability behaviors, they don’t believe the people around them are engaging in those behaviors as much or that sustainability behaviors are expected of them. More outreach to employees and students about the prevalence of sustainability behaviors and expectations regarding sustainability behaviors could increase social norms among the campus population. Employees (mean value of 5.78) and students (mean value of 5.96) both had relatively high levels of
perceived behavioral control, indicating that they perceive few barriers to engaging in sustainability behaviors on campus.

The assessment will be conducted in the future in order to track changes in behaviors, attitudes, social norms, and other aspects of sustainability culture over time.

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives 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.