|Submission Date||June 30, 2017|
University of Connecticut
EN-14: Participation in Public Policy
|2.00 / 2.00||
Office of Environmental Policy
Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the municipal/local level?:
A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the municipal/local level, including the issues, legislation, and ordinances for or against which the institution has advocated:
The University of Connecticut has a community-campus public policy committee with a mission to facilitate collaboration between the University and larger Mansfield community, represented by the Special Assistant to the University President and the Mayor, respectively. Goals of the committee include facilitating open, ongoing discussions on community issues, and serving as an advisory group on town and university initiatives.
The Town/University Relations Committee promotes and sustains positive relations between the two entities. Jason Coite, the environmental compliance manager from UConn’s Office of Environmental Policy is one of the UConn Representatives. Examples of projects and initiatives our representative has partaken in include the water supply connection project along a major corridor and the water conservation measures in place, construction of new sewers, and the creation of the major new road, Discovery Drive, that leads into campus. All projects conducted must adhere to local rules and regulations, thus working closely with the town council ensures a smooth operation. Additional information, including meeting minutes, can be found here: http://www.mansfieldct.gov/towngown
Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the state/provincial/regional level?:
A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the state/provincial/regional level, including the issues, legislation, and ordinances for or against which the institution has advocated:
During the Connecticut General Assembly’s legislative session, the Director of the Office of Environmental Policy (sustainability officer) receives copies of all environmental and sustainable energy legislation being tracked by UConn’s Government Relations department, for his review and comment. The director has testified at the State Capitol on legislation and spoken with state agency (e.g., DEEP, DPH) legislative liaisons and other state agency staff responsible for drafting and advocating those legislative proposals. UConn advocated for stronger renewable energy requirements in the state's Renewable Portfolio Standards, which amounts to a state cap-and-trade law for greenhouse gas emissions. We have also advocated for full-funding of the CT Energy Efficiency Fund and other State incentives for energy efficiency projects. That kind of policy advocacy work at the legislature, and in coordination with members of CT’s congressional delegation is coordinated through UConn's Office of Government Relations.
We have also worked with DEEP and other state agencies on advocacy for state regulations pertaining to clean diesel, biodiesel, and high performance building regulations, and have encouraged state financial incentive programs for initiatives such as the procurement of plug-in electric vehicles. A number of UConn faculty, staff, technical, and scientific experts serve on state advisory committees for topics such as Climate Change Adaptation, Low Impact Development and Storm water Management, brownfield remediation, the Long Island Sound Study, and air quality (State Implementation Plan Revision Advisory Committee). All of these advisory committees develop policy, typically through proposed regulations and guidance documents that advance environmental sustainability goals and standards.
Also, the OEP director is a member of the President's Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility (PCCSR). Among other things, PCCSR examines fair trade and "green" standards for various products, goods and services. The committee is more focused on social and economic sustainability issues and occasionally meets or corresponds with representatives of major UConn vendors and/or the certifying agencies or NPOs (e.g., Rain Forest Alliance, Green Seal cleaning products) to discuss, compare, and suggest revisions to these kinds of standards, or changes to the products offered by the vendors (e.g., bottled water, RFA coffee).
In 2015, an act was passed concerning the sustainability of the Nitrogen Credit Exchange Program, phasing out the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s obligation to purchase all equivalent nitrogen credits created by publicly owned wastewater treatment facilities. Additionally, an act was passed requiring regulations on pesticide application by state agencies, departments, or institutions. Another was passed to expand the Connecticut Green Bank’s residential solar investment program to encourage local access to residential renewable energy. Further summaries of recent public acts concerned with the environment and sustainability can be found at http://govrel.uconn.edu/legislative-summary/#ENVIRONMENT.
Progressive states like Connecticut that have transitioned away from coal may stand to gain an economic advantage through the enactment of the Clean Power Plan (CPP); therefore, our state and others are joining the EPA in the legal defense of the CPP, and would like to see the President appoint a climate realist to SCOTUS, sooner rather than later.
Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the national level?:
A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the national level, including the issues, legislation, and ordinances for or against which the institution has advocated:
Susan Herbst, President of the University of Connecticut, formally joined presidents from more than 220 colleges and universities in signing a letter urging the current president of the United States and Congress to support the United Nations’ Paris Climate Agreement, ongoing climate research, and investment in a low-carbon economy. She stated on January 16th, 2017 in her “Welcome Back!” email to the UConn community:
“On Dec. 9, I joined presidents from more than 220 colleges and universities in signing a letter urging the president-elect and Congress to support the United Nations’ Paris Climate Agreement, ongoing climate research, and investment in a low-carbon economy. But it is not enough to merely advocate for change-we should also be the change we want to see.”
UConn participates in the following list of national sustainably focused surveys: Sierra magazine’s Cool Schools ranking, AASHE’s STARS, and past participation in the Princeton Review’s Green Colleges.
Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the international level?:
A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the international level, including the issues, legislation, and ordinances for or against which the institution has advocated:
UConn has sent a cohort of dedicated students to represent the university at COP21 in Paris, France and COP22 in Marrakech, Morocco. These students sat in on panel discussions and observed stakeholders engage in policy making, adjusting, and advocating for sustainability and ways to combat climate change. Susan Herbst, President of the University of Connecticut, as well as members of the Office of the Provost, held formal meetings with the contingents to both Climate Conferences to discuss ways to improve our university’s international relationships and global climate commitment. Additionally, the Office of the Provost sent one of its Vice Provosts as a representative to the conference. While in Marrakech, the contingent co-hosted an event with the President of Cadi Ayyad University, to open up conversation and collaboration among students and administrators from our universities.
The university also participates in the UI Green Metric World University Ranking.
A brief description of other political positions the institution has taken during the previous three years (if applicable):
The Office of Governmental Relations promotes effective communication between representatives of the University of Connecticut and representatives of local, state, and federal government. During each session of the Connecticut General Assembly, the office develops the University's legislative agenda, actively supports any legislation of interest to the University and the Health Center and monitors development and passage of the University's operating and capital budgets. In addition, the office monitors federal legislation and serves as a liaison between members of the Connecticut Congressional delegation and University faculty and administrators.
The Office of Governmental Relations provides summaries outlining Public Acts passed in 2015 sessions of the Connecticut General Assembly that impact or may be of interest to the University of Connecticut. Topics included student membership on the Board of Trustees for the University of Connecticut, an act authorizing and adjusting bonds of the state for capital improvements and transportation, biomedical research fund, infectious disease notification, data security and agency effectiveness, a study of the fair sale of tickets to entertainment events, providing labor peace agreements, and funding an early childhood regression discontinuity study. Acts were also passed concerning financial aid and tuition, including implementing a student loan borrower’s education course and requiring an annual report of UConn’s awarded financial aid to undergraduates. A large number of acts were passed concerning public safety, higher education, health care administration and finance, dentistry, medical staff, and health insurance. These and all other recent acts can be found at http://govrel.uconn.edu/legislative-summary/.
A brief description of political donations the institution made during the previous three years (if applicable):
As a public university, we are unable to utilize funds to make political donations.
The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
The OEP director is a former legislative attorney, as well as a former environmental and energy lobbyist, so he understands how to read and legislation and regulations, the legislative and rulemaking processes, and how to influence the process. So this is a strength that benefits UConn's sustainability policy advocacy efforts.