Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 66.51
Liaison Aurora Sharrard
Submission Date Feb. 28, 2021

STARS v2.2

University of Pittsburgh
EN-6: Assessing Sustainability Culture

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Samantha Chan
Assistant Director of Sustainability
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution conduct an assessment of sustainability culture?:

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

Which of the following best describes the structure of the cultural assessment? The assessment is administered::
Longitudinally to measure change over time

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

Pitt's first campus-wide sustainability survey was deployed in Spring 2017 in partnership between the (then) University Sustainability Committee (USC) and an external consultant, as part of the Pitt Sustainability PLan development. The 2017 Pitt Sustainability Culture Survey was made available through campus portal My.Pitt.edu -- and intercept interviews were conducted over several months. The goal of the survey was to assess the knowledge of and support for Pitt sustainability efforts by students, faculty, and staff. The 2017 Pitt Sustainability Culture Survey also helped the USC create the 2018 Pitt Sustainability Plan, which set the strategy of Pitt Sustainability efforts through 2030.

In Spring 2020, the Office of Sustainability ran the second campus-wide Pitt sustainability survey -- and the first Pitt Sustainability Literacy & Culture Survey, expected to be delivered triennially. This survey was deployed to students, faculty, and staff on all five campuses via a wide variety of electronic means, including the portal My.Pitt.edu portal, email, and social media. Given the April 2020 timeline during Covid, all outreach mechanisms were electronic.

Questions for the 2020 Pitt Sustainability Literacy & Culture Survey were chosen from a variety of sources, including the 2017 Pitt initial Sustainability Culture Survey, which is an important benchmark. Additional questions were selected from a wide selection of based on research of other higher education sustainability literacy and culture surveys. Questions were then balanced and optimized by the Pitt Sustainability team -- and reviewed to meet university-wide survey protocols and best practices by Pitt's University Center for Social and Urban Research (UCSUR).

The 1,033 Responses were used by the Pitt Sustainability Team to gauge the practices, opinions, and preferences of Pitt students, faculty, and staff to create future offerings related to sustainability opportunities and challenges.

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:

1) What does "sustainability" mean to you?

2) How important is Pitt's overall commitment to sustainability to you?
Extremely important / Very important / Moderately important / Slightly important / Not at all important

3) Relative to other universities, Pitt is a leader in sustainability practices. Strongly Agree / Agree / Neutral / Disagree / Strongly Disagree

4) Do you think Pitt incorporates sustainability into the daily lives of students, faculty, and staff? Always / Often / Sometimes / Rarely / Never

5) Which of the following sustainability activities are you involved in at Pitt?
Recycling and/or composting; Walking, biking, taking the bus and/or carpooling; Use less energy; Promoting diversity and inclusion; Purchasing environmentally friendly products; Use less water; Advocating for sustainability practices; Choosing local and/or sustainably sourced food; Attending campus sustainability events; Teaching others about sustainability; Volunteering time to support basic needs and equity of fellow students, faculty, staff, and community members; Taking a class on a sustainability-related topic; Membership in a sustainability-affiliated student organization; Leading a University sustainability project or initiative; Conducting sustainability research; Pitt employment in a sustainability related field; I am not involved in any sustainability activities on campus; Other

6) Which of the following organizations are you familiar with at Pitt?
The Pitt Pantry; Office of Sustainability; University of Thriftsburgh; Pitt Green Team; Student Office of Sustainability; Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation; Pitt Bike Cave; Fossil Free Pitt; Pitt Green Fund; Plant2Plate; Engineers for a Sustainable World; Food Recovery Heroes; Center for Sustainable Business; Epsilon Eta; Free the Planet; I am not aware of any sustainability organizations on campus; United Students Against Sweatshops; Pittsburgh Water Collaboratory; Citizen's Climate Lobby

7) Which of the following sustainability initiatives are you aware of on campus?
LEED certified buildings; Composting; Campus master plan; Single stream recycling; Pitt Sustainability Plan; Electric vehicles and/or charging stations; Surplus Property; Green events; Choose to Reuse; Textile recycling; Green roofs; Pitt Food Share Facebook Group; Pitt Green designations (Office, Lab, Resident, and/or Floor); Rain and/or pollinator gardens; Sustainable purchasing options; Clutter for a Cause; Sustainable landscape practice; Funded undergraduate sustainability research; Plant forward dining; Renewable energy generation or purchases; Chancellor's Advisory Council on Sustainability; Academic course attribute codes for sustainability; MCSI Faculty Sustainability Task Force’ EcoReps; I am not aware of any sustainability initiatives on campus

8) Select the TOP 3 pressing sustainability issues at Pitt.
Energy use, efficiency, and conservation’ Waste diversion, recycling, and composting; Reducing dependence on fossil fuels; Climate change / reducing greenhouse gas emissions; Equity and access; Community engagement; Water use, efficiency, and conservation; Health and wellbeing; Alternative transportation and mobility; Social justice; Other; I don't think there are any pressing sustainability issues at Pitt

9) Select the TOP 3 sustainability-related academic or engagement initiatives that Pitt should pursue.
Enabling and promoting sustainable behavior; Integrating sustainability into student / residential life; Encouraging projects that benefit our communities; Addressing real-world problems in courses; Connecting research, curriculum, and practice; Encouraging projects that benefit campus; Fostering multidisciplinary collaboration and learning; Incorporating sustainability into research; Fostering advocacy and impact; Other; I don't think Pitt should pursue any of the above initiatives

10) Select the TOP 3 sustainability initiatives that you would be willing to contribute to on campus.
Change my personal behaviors / rethink how I do things (i.e. ride public transportation, recycle, etc.); Change my decision-making behaviors / rethink how I do things (i.e. sustainable purchasing, green events, etc.); Devote time and effort (i.e., becoming involved in a club, collaboration, or working group); Pursue a Pitt Green designation (Office, Lab, Resident, Student Organization, or Event); Lead and organize (i.e., create an initiative and/or help run one); Pay a premium (i.e., for a new sustainable product or service, mandatory fee to boost campus initiatives); Other; I am not willing to contribute to sustainability initiatives on campus

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

2017 - The online survey was advertised to faculty, students and staff through the My.Pitt.edu portal, email listservs, and social media channels by department and division representatives on the University Sustainability Committee. Participants were offered the chance to win gift cards to the University Store on Fifth. The online survey was supplemented with in-person intercept surveys administered by students and an external consulting team. Over 1,000 responses were received, including 54% undergraduate students, 13% graduate students, 25% staff, and 6% faculty members.

2020 - The online survey was advertised to faculty, students and staff at all five campuses through the My.Pitt.edu portal, email lists, and social media channels by the Office of Sustainability in partnership with the Chancellor’s Advisory Council on Sustainability, our cross-departmental sustainability staff team, the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation’s Faculty Sustainability Task Force, the Student Office of Sustainability, University Communications, and many more partners. Participants were offered the chance to win gift cards to the University Store on Fifth. Despite the survey being administered during the COVID-19 pandemic, 1,033 responses were received for the 2020 Pitt Sustainability Literacy and Culture Survey including 40% undergraduate students, 8% graduate students, 40% staff, and 11% faculty. A representative sample of all five campuses was met, while a close to representative sample of Pitt students, faculty, and staff was achieved. Responses were collected from 20 academic schools/centers, 22 operations offices, and 80 majors.

A brief summary of results from the cultural assessment:

1)The majority of the Pitt community values the importance of Pitt's commitment to sustainability
2) We need to work harder to tell our stories of leading in sustainability relative to other universities
3) We need to better incorporate sustainability into the daily lives of our students, faculty, and staff - especially student/residential life
4) We have a wide range of sustainability activities, organizations, and initiatives available on campus, but need to better educate the Pitt community on the sustainability opportunities available to them
5) We need to advertise and celebrate out sustainability initiatives and accomplishments more

1) There was a 1.7% decrease in the Pitt community's value of the university's commitment to sustainability
2) There was a 21% increase in perception that Pitt is a leader in sustainability
3) There was a 16% increase in perception that Pitt incorporates sustainability into the daily lives of students, faculty, and staff

FULL 2020 PITT SUSTAINABILITY LITERACY & CULTURE SURVEY RESULTS EXPLAINED: https://www.sustainable.pitt.edu/2020-results-literacy-culture-survey

1) There is a lot of sustainability work happening at Pitt. Although we have a lot of successes, we need to get better at celebrating them and telling our stories.
2) We have to be wary of “greenwashing” and acknowledge our shortcomings and challenges.
3) We are too siloed; there needs to be more interaction between operations, academics, research, and athletics.

Website URL where information about the assessment of sustainability culture is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

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