Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 69.58
Liaison Derek Nichols
Submission Date Dec. 14, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University at Buffalo
PA-1: Sustainability Coordination

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Ryan McPherson
Chief Sustainability Officer
Office of Sustainability
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Does the institution have at least one sustainability committee?:
Yes

The charter or mission statement of the committee(s) or a brief description of each committee's purview and activities:

In November 2007, the Environmental Stewardship Committee (ESC) was created to direct UB’s efforts toward fulfilling our commitment of achieving climate neutrality and ensuring that UB is moving toward sustainability.

Since then, the ESC created, submitted and began implementation of a Climate Action Plan aimed at reducing UB’s net carbon emissions to zero by 2030.

The Environmental Stewardship Committee was constructed according to one basic principle: that individuals representing units of the university with the budget authority and operational capacity to implement a climate action plan should be intimately involved in creating, managing and monitoring the plan.

Building on the success of the Environmental Stewardship Committee, in early 2017 the university reconstituted the ESC to better embed sustainable thinking, practices and decision-making throughout the university via an integrated sustainability strategy. The new university wide Campus Operations Group (COG) works to leverage the expertise of campus representatives from across the university to identify,develop and, most importantly, implement sustainable strategies across the entire university. The COG consists of key campus leaders and leverages multiple working groups

In addition to the COG, the university also holds multiple Sustainability Congresses throughout the year to garner greater stakeholder engagement from across the campus.


Members of each committee, including affiliations and role (e.g. staff, student, or faculty):

Campus Operations Group:

Susan Kurowski, Associate Athletic Director

Beth Corry, Associate VP & Controller

Jeff Brady, Director Campus Dining & Shops

Jeff Smith, Associate VP for Marketing and Digital Communications

Sharon Nolan-Weiss, Director, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Jay Roorbach, Senior Emergency Planning Coordinator

Mark Coldren, Associate VP Human Resources

Ron Place, Director of Real Estate and Property Management

Kara Saunders, University Registrar

Ryan McPherson, Chief Sustainability Officer

Chris Austin, Director Parking & Transportation

Chris Bartolomei, Interim Chief of Police

Scott Ludtka, Hazardous Materials Technician

Joe Raab, Director, Environmental Health and Safety

Tonga Pham, Associate VP, Facilities

Renee Filip, Director of Strategic Planning and Communications

Kara Kearney-Saylor, Director of Internal Audit


Does the institution have at least one sustainability office that includes more than 1 full-time equivalent (FTE) employee?:
Yes

A brief description of each sustainability office:

UB's sustainability model focuses on finding solutions to global challenges through research, creating sustainability literate citizens through our teaching, setting the bar high in our operations, and partnering with the external community. We strive to evolve, build resilience, and minimize our environmental footprint as illustrated by our aggressive commitment to become climate neutral by 2030.

The mission of UB Sustainability (UB's sustainability office) is to connect people across the university with the information, innovation, and tools to create a better future for UB and our community through sustainability.


Full-time equivalent (FTE) of people employed in the sustainability office(s):
3.20

Does the institution have at least one sustainability officer?:
Yes

Name and title of each sustainability officer:
Ryan McPherson, Chief Sustainability Officer; Derek Nichols, Sustainability Engagement Coordinator; Erin Moscati, Sustainability Education Manager

Does the institution have a mechanism for broad sustainability coordination for the entire institution (e.g. a campus-wide committee or an officer/office responsible for the entire campus)?:
Yes

A brief description of the activities and substantive accomplishments of the institution-wide coordinating body or officer during the previous three years:

As a public research institution, our model of sustainability focuses on finding solutions to global challenges through research, educating individuals about these challenges, setting high expectations of efficiency and effectiveness in our own operations, sharing our experiences and partnering with the external community. Through an integrated and collaborative resource planning approach, UB has become a higher education leader in sustainability. Our commitment spans over 35 years—from the origins of the environmental movement at Love Canal to the innovative operational measures we take that continue to save the university millions of dollars every year. We strive to evolve, build resilience and minimize our environmental footprint by leveraging a triple bottom line approach that works to steward our natural resources, empower our staff, students, faculty and community while creating smart long term financially efficient strategies. This purpose through people, planet and penciling approach is the core of our internal strategy to achieve the University’s overarching goals and is recognized across the nation as a model for sustainable higher education.

Our sustainability work starts with creating an environment that supports greater efficiency and cost savings in areas such as, but not limited to, procurement, financial reporting, budgeting and overall financial decision-making. This integrated approach leads not only to economic efficiency but also provides better levels of service to students, faculty and staff as we decrease our carbon emissions and adverse environmental footprint. The University’s Operational Excellence campaign—focused on making data-driven decisions—personifies this approach and can be seen in 13 business process and system improvement initiatives that are re-defining the way we operate here at UB. By framing our work in business services, human resources, resource planning and university facilities through a sustainability lens, we are leveraging technology and culture change to address the internal and global challenges we face. While some initiatives are yielding quick savings—U Plan, UB Edge, Capital Remapping & Redesign and E-Travel—the long term return on our efforts is empowering our people to create broad inclusive positive change and leveraging greater human capital in our work. This is exemplified by the university’s investment and commitment to institutionalizing a culture of equity and inclusion throughout our entire campus community. We have worked diligently with academic and administrative offices to develop strategies that empower all members of the campus community—whether faculty, students or staff—to achieve their full potential, unburdened by barriers to advancement based on stereotypes and bias.

Our stewardship goes beyond empowering our people and making efficient and smart long term economic decisions, it is also focused on building a better world for future generations. We are committed to creating sustainably literate individuals and the leaders of tomorrow through our teaching, research and engagement. This effort is exemplified through student focused initiatives such as the Education, Leadership Fellows in Sustainability, our entrepreneurial projects Erie Hack & World Challenge Challenge and leveraging our operations as a pedagogical teaching tool. Central to our engagement with the community is building capacity and playing a key leadership role in establishing the Western New York Sustainable Business Roundtable, the Western New York Environmental Alliance and our regional sustainable development plan known as One Region Forward. Our work is also reinforced through numerous other measurable goals including moving towards zero waste and our commitment & planning to becoming climate neutral by 2030 through implementing programs like Localizing Buffalo’s Renewable Energy Future—an initiative that aims to invest in the region while reducing energy costs for Buffalo-area anchoring institutions by providing 50% of their overall energy demand with clean renewable energy. Our numerous renewable energy projects work in tandem with decades of energy conservation measures and sustainable capital construction that have resulted in substantial carbon reduction and cost savings—including purchasing 100% of the university’s overall electricity use from renewable energy sources. Our integrated purpose through people, planet and penciling approach has enabled us to create positive momentum over the past few years to launch the innovative State of Sustainability report, achieve STARS gold certification from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, and rank first among colleges and universities for using green power. We won Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Energy to Lead prize of $1 million and were recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency as an Environmental Champion. We are emboldened as we take pride in our accomplishments and are motivated to continue our journey of sustained resilient evolution for our University.


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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.