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

STARS v2.2

University of Pittsburgh
PA-2: Sustainability Planning

Status Score Responsible Party
3.00 / 4.00 Aurora Sharrard
Director of Sustainability
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have a published plan or plans that include measurable sustainability objectives that address sustainability in curriculum and/or research?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives related to academics and the plan(s) in which they are published:

The University of Pittsburgh’s Sustainability initiatives date back three decades and include both mission-focused and mission-supporting sustainability activities and commitments. The 2018 Pitt Sustainability Plan outlines university-wide sustainability strategies, activities, policies, and priorities; it also sets out 61 goals across the themes of stewardship, exploration, and community and culture.

The “Exploration” theme includes impact areas in Teaching & Learning, Research, Innovation, Partnerships, and Global Outreach. The academic Pitt Sustainability Plan goals associated with these impact areas are summarized below:

TEACHING & LEARNING

1) Engage all undergraduate advisors and give them the tools necessary to connect interested students to sustainability- themed courses, majors, minors, internships, and community activities.
2) Annually increase the number of students applying for and graduating with the Undergraduate Certificate in Sustainability starting with the 2017- 2018 Academic Year.
3) Increase sustainability-related service-learning opportunities.
4) Incorporate sustainability education into all freshman seminars.
5) Create faculty tools, workshops, and incentives to encourage the incorporation of sustainability components into current syllabi.

RESEARCH

6) Use the Pitt campus as a living laboratory for faculty and students to implement new ideas and study outcomes over time.
7) Provide more opportunities and incentives for interdisciplinary research as well as the bridging of academics and operations – promoting an environment of informing and working together.
8) Raise external funds for endowed chair(s) to support faculty with research expertise in sustainability.
9) Develop an endowed seed grant fund to provide greater opportunity for sustainability focused federal grants.
10) Increase prestigious scholarship opportunities for undergraduate and graduate research in sustainability.
11) Raise the visibility of faculty research in sustainability.

INNOVATION

12) Increase the number of sustainability-related patents, licenses, and start-ups (both for profit and nonprofit).
13) Collaborate with Pitt’s Innovation Institute, the University’s hub for innovation and entrepreneurship, to embed sustainability principles throughout the Institute.

PARTNERSHIPS

14) Connect with industry and community collaborators to support applied sustainability research and education.
15) Establish local and regional partnerships to accelerate the transfer of sustainability ideas from Pitt classrooms and laboratories through implementation.

GLOBAL OUTREACH

16) Promote sustainability-related topics at industry and academic conferences to tell our stories of impact to greater audiences.


Does the institution have a published plan or plans that include measurable sustainability objectives that address student, employee, or community engagement for sustainability?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives related to engagement and the plan(s) in which they are published:

The 2018 Pitt Sustainability Plan outlines university-wide sustainability strategies, activities, policies, and priorities; it also sets out 61 goals across the themes of stewardship, exploration, and community and culture. Engagement shows up in both the Exploration and Community & Culture themes and in several impact areas (as summarized in the Pitt Sustainability Plan goals below):

ENGAGEMENT & AWARENESS

1) Incorporate the tenets of sustainability into all student programming.
2) Create an online sustainability education module for staff and develop departmental Green Teams.
3) Train all staff (incoming and retained) on how to infuse the tenets of sustainability into their everyday work at Pitt.
4) Create and deploy a comprehensive campus survey on student, staff, and faculty sustainability literacy by 2020.
5) Share our stories of impact as leaders on a national scale and promote our model of sustainability.

INNOVATION

6) Work across impact areas to define innovations and ensure that there is a mechanism for students, faculty, and staff to advance ideas for impact.

PARTNERSHIPS

7) Link sustainability and Community Engagement Centers more explicitly.
8) Invigorate our existing programs to increase the impact of sustainability education in the K-12 curriculum.

CITY & REGIONAL CONNECTIONS

9) Take active leadership roles in sustainability initiatives in Oakland, Pittsburgh, and the surrounding region and demonstrate solutions to our grand challenges.
10) Incentivize sustainability activism and community work and provide opportunities for volunteerism, internships, service, and community engagement efforts that focus on sustainability.
11) Create a process of greater transparency between Pitt and our community for knowledge sharing and capacity building (building the tools for empowering change).
12) Embrace a culture of impactful service through long-term investment in our communities.

GLOBAL OUTREACH

13) Increase the number of sustainability-related international service projects.
14) Track sustainability-related service and study abroad opportunities for students.
15) Find alumni who are leading sustainability initiatives both nationally and internationally and connect them with University faculty and students.


Does the institution have a published plan or plans that include measurable sustainability objectives that address sustainability in operations?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives related to operations and the plan(s) in which they are published:

The 2018 Pitt Sustainability Plan outlines university-wide sustainability strategies, activities, policies, and priorities; it also sets out 61 goals across the themes of stewardship, exploration, and community and culture. Operational goals show up in all both the Stewardship and Community & Culture themes and in several impact areas (as summarized in the Pitt Sustainability Plan goals below):

ENERGY & EMISSIONS

1) Strive toward climate neutrality, with a goal to reduce GHG emissions by 50% by 2030 from 2008 baseline. [This goal was strengthened in 2020 when Pitt committed to achieving carbon neutrality for the Pittsburgh campus by 2037. Learn more: https://www.pittwire.pitt.edu/news/pitt-commits-achieve-carbon-neutrality]
2) Produce or procure 50% of the University’s electric energy portfolio from renewable resources by 2030.
3) Achieve 2030 Challenge goals of 50% reduction below the national average in energy use intensity (consumption per square foot) by 2030 (from 2003 baseline) and establish design standards and operational practices to achieve them.

WATER SYSTEMS

4) Work with the City to ensure clean, healthy drinking water for all in our community.
5) Strive toward a water neutral campus, with a 3% reduction in water use by 2020 from 2017 baseline.
6) Achieve 2030 Challenge goals of 50% reduction below the district average in water use intensity (consumption per square foot) by 2030 and establish design standards and operational practices to achieve them.
7) Reduce impervious surfaces by 20% by 2030 from 2017 baseline.
8) Divert 25% of stormwater from impervious surfaces to reuse, detention, retention, and/or green stormwater solutions by 2030.

HEALTH & WELLBEING

9) Identify and improve the environmental quality of our indoor and outdoor spaces.
10) Embrace LEED and WELL Building Certifications, and WELL Communities for our built environment.

LANDSCAPE & ECOLOGY

11) Adhere to Pitt’s Sustainable Landscape Design Guidelines in all new landscape designs.
12) Increase tree canopy by 50% and replace 15% of lawn area with indigenous and adapted plants by 2030. (from 2017 baseline).
13) Maintain at least 75% of landscaped areas in accordance with Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) Standards for Organic Land Care by 2024

TRANSPORTATION & MOBILITY

14) Achieve Bicycle Friendly University Silver status from the League of American Bicyclists by FY2020 [extended to FY22 due to Covid]; Gold by FY2025.
15) Achieve 2030 Challenge goal of 50% reduction below the Oakland average greenhouse gas emissions from commuter travel and direct transportation by 2030 (from 2013 baseline).
16) Increase active Pitt registered carpools by 2% and create 1 new vanpool annually between FY2018 and FY2030.
17) Reduce Pitt Shuttle fuel usage by 3% annually between FY2018 and FY2030.

MATERIALS & WASTE

18) Establish procedures, policies, practices, and educational tools to reduce the quantity and environmental impact of materials entering and exiting the University.
19) Reduce landfill waste by 25% by 2030 from 2017 levels.
20) Use healthy products for our built environment in accordance with future Pitt Green Building Standards.
21) Expand the food waste composting program to compost 50% of food waste by 2025.

FOOD SYSTEMS

22) Support a local, fair, ecologically sound, and humane food system by expanding the Real Food Challenge across campus to serve 25% Real Food by 2025.
23) Serve 50% of to-go meals and beverages in reusable containers by 2025.
24) Serve meals that put plants at the center of the plate by decreasing the amount of animal-derived products sold by 25% by 2025 (from 2017 baseline). [This goal has evolved to embrace the Cool Food Pledge. Learn more: https://www.sustainable.pitt.edu/pitt-signs-cool-food-pledge/]

EQUITY & ACCESS

25) Integrate the tenets of sustainability into the University’s procurement policies and guidelines.


Does the institution have a published plan or plans that include measurable sustainability objectives that address diversity, equity, and inclusion; sustainable investment/finance; or wellbeing?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives related to administration and the plan(s) in which they are published:

In 2020, the University of Pittsburgh set new diversity, equity, and inclusion goals. While not entirely complete or public, some important planning information and measures include:

A) Pitt Vendor Diversity Spending Dashboard (with university-wide goals tracked internally and being elevated by responsibility center): https://www.diversity.pitt.edu/social-justice/vendor-contracting-diversity-dashboard
B) The University has also created dashboards for diversity in faculty, staff, students, research associates & postdoctoral researchers, first year undergraduate admissions, and student outcomes. Example: Faculty Diversity Dashboard: https://www.diversity.pitt.edu/social-justice/vendor-contracting-diversity-dashboard
C) It is expected that additional University DEI goals will be publicized online here in the future: https://www.diversity.pitt.edu/social-justice

The 2018 Pitt Sustainability Plan outlines university-wide sustainability strategies, activities, policies, and priorities; it also sets out 61 goals across the themes of stewardship, exploration, and community and culture. Administrative goals addressing diversity, equity, inclusion, sustainable investments/finance, and wellbeing show up in both the Stewardship and Community & Culture themes and in several impact areas (as summarized in the Pitt Sustainability Plan goals below):

EQUITY & ACCESS

1) Strive to create a resource net for incoming students that will allow us to proactively meet our students’ physical, social, financial, and mental health needs.
2) Form a committee or task force to consider socially responsible investing [SR], to be composed of faculty, staff, student and administration representatives [The 2018-19 SRI Committee met its charge from the Chancellor and the conversation has evolved from there {See Investment & Finance credits in this AASHE STARS Submission}]
3) Work across all impact areas of the Pitt Sustainability Plan to ensure benefits for all within the Pitt community.

HEALTH & WELLBEING

4) Identify and improve the environmental quality of our indoor and outdoor spaces.
5) Support physical health through fitness access and active design principles.
6) Support the mental health needs of our students, faculty and staff.
7) Embrace LEED and WELL Building Certifications, and WELL Communities for our built environment.

MATERIALS & WASTE

8) Use healthy products for our built environment in accordance with future Pitt Green Building

FOOD SYSTEMS

9) Serve meals that put plants at the center of the plate by decreasing the amount of animal-derived products sold by 25% by 2025 (from 2017 baseline) [This goal has evolved to embrace the Cool Food Pledge. Learn more: https://www.sustainable.pitt.edu/pitt-signs-cool-food-pledge/]

WATER SYSTEMS

10) Work with the City to ensure clean, healthy drinking water for all in our community.


Does the institution have a published strategic plan or equivalent guiding document that includes sustainability at a high level? :
Yes

The institution’s highest guiding document (upload):
Website URL where the institution’s highest guiding document is publicly available:
Which of the following best describes the inclusion of sustainability in the highest guiding document?:
Minor theme

The institution's sustainability plan (upload):
Website URL where the institution's sustainability plan is publicly available:
Does the institution have a formal statement in support of sustainability endorsed by its governing body?:
Yes

The formal statement in support of sustainability:

The University of Pittsburgh has stated and reiterated its formal sustainability statements over time.

IN FEBRUARY 2020,
the Board of Trustees passed a "Resolution in Support of the University of Pittsburgh's Carbon Neutrality Commitment." Part of the resolution stated:

"WHEREAS,the University has been actively involved in sustainability initiatives and practices dating back to the 1990 signing of the Talloires Declaration, which supported the mobilization of the resources of higher education institutions to advance sustainability; since that time, the University has earned a national reputation for its leadership in sustainability initiatives and for nurturing a culture of sustainability on campus.....RESOLVED, That the Board of Trustees hereby affirms its support of the University’s commitment to sustainability and its goal of achieving carbon neutrality by the Year 2037..."

Read the full resolution on Page 8: https://www.trustees.pitt.edu/sites/default/files/minutes_and_materials/2-28-2019_winter_meeting.pdf

JANUARY 2018
Chancellor Patrick Gallagher wrote the introductory letter to the Pitt Sustainability Plan, stating:

“The overwhelming consensus of the global scientific community is that human activities are rapidly changing our planet’s climate in ways that pose unprecedented challenges for the future of humanity. At the University of Pittsburgh, we view this knowledge as a clear call to action. It compels us to leverage our capacity as a premier research institution and community anchor to affect change through education, investigation and outreach—and to lead by our own example.
Pitt has long championed forward-thinking and innovative practices that have deepened the resiliency of our region and the world. As a university community, we have made great strides in supporting sustainable practices in our campus operations, classrooms, research activities and local partnerships. But we can—and must—do more.
Long-term sustainability extends beyond environmental practices. It requires deep and lasting changes that will enable future generations to thrive in a world that is environmentally responsible, socially equitable and economically robust. It is a great challenge—one that our University’s mission, which is to harness knowledge for society’s gain, perfectly positions us to tackle.
To advance this work, we established a University Sustainability Committee in the fall of 2016. These committee members set out to think boldly, develop goals and recommend supportive actions for promoting sustainable practices across the Pitt community. The result of their efforts—the Pitt Sustainability Plan—is a strategic framework that calls for dramatic improvements in sustainability across our University by 2030… .This plan is a critical component in Pitt’s ongoing efforts to advance sustainability. The goals that it outlines are far from safe; they demand ingenuity and innovation as well as consistent and focused attention. As we begin to look to the future and shift this ambitious plan into action, I encourage you to join in. By working together, and propelled by your ideas, talents and passions, we can cultivate a thriving culture of sustainability at Pitt—one that has a far-reaching, long-lasting and meaningful impact.”

Read the Chancellor's full 2018 letter: https://issuu.com/upitt/docs/2018_pittsustainabilityplan_final?e=2614445/56117752

IN 2008,
the University of Pittsburgh's Faculty Assembly & Senate Council issued a Statement on Sustainability, as follows:

STATEMENT ON SUSTAINABILITY
UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH
Approved by Faculty Assembly & Senate Council April 2008

Whereas the University of Pittsburgh was an original signatory of the 1990 Talloires Declaration supporting mobilization of the resources of higher education on behalf of sustainability;

Whereas the University recognizes that sound sustainability practices benefit the institution, the City of Pittsburgh and the Western Pennsylvania region and that such practices should reflect the values of the institution;

Whereas the University accepts its role as a leader and understands the importance of embodying these sound practices in all its procedures and facilities;

Whereas it is possible and desirable both to maintain research and instructional excellence, realize cost savings and apply sound sustainability principles;

Whereas the University recognizes that sound sustainability practices will appeal to high-caliber students, faculty, and staff and that such members of the University community will in turn reinforce the values of sustainability;

Whereas considerable expertise on sustainability among University faculty and staff is available for coordination, and best practices of similarly aspiring academic institutions are readily researchable;

Whereas the University of Pittsburgh recognizes the need to foster sustainability in its practices and curricula, while continuing with its adherence to sound fiscal practices.

Be it resolved that the Sustainability Subcommittee of PUPC recommends the University administration:

Re-affirm the commitment to environmental education and support of environmental academic education in the curriculum

Foster environmentally responsible purchasing practices by striving to balance short and long-term, maintenance, life cycle and environmental costs in purchasing goods and services, with sound fiscal practices.

Continue to identify, implement, communicate, and coordinate practices that preserve and promote efficient use and conservation of energy, water and other resources and increase promotion of conservation efforts to the University community, so as to reduce resource consumption.
Continue the efforts to minimize solid waste production by fostering recycling and reuse.

Reaffirm the University’s commitment to environmentally responsible Campus planning, design, construction and operations principles by

a) Making the most efficient use of our existing physical assets before considering the addition of new facilities

b) Striving to balance sound fiscal practices and environmental responsibility in the renovation, construction, operation and maintenance of the University buildings and Campus infrastructure

c) Continuing with the “greening” of the Campus and efforts to implement sustainable practices in the design and maintenance of the grounds, within the limitations of the Campus’ urban context.

d) Monitoring progress in accomplishment of institutional goals in such areas as energy systems, green practices, recycling, purchasing and waste management.

Continue to establish processes to maintain efficient use, tracking, storage and disposal of hazardous toxic and radioactive materials and commit to keeping the presence of toxic materials on Campus and the generation of hazardous waste at reasonable levels for work and research purposes.

Reaffirm the University’s commitment to facilitating pedestrian travel, bicycle use and promotion of other alternative modes of transportation such as public transit, to minimize the environmental impact of vehicles on the Campus and surrounding communities.

Foster linkages among and within University academic and administration departments for the purpose of promoting, informing and reporting on sustainability efforts.

The University maintains a neutral political position and has a long-standing policy that it will not implement policies or undertake practices that would be generally understood to be political in character. None of the statements in the above shall be interpreted to compromise, conflict with or violate this neutral political position.


The institution’s definition of sustainability:

The University of Pittsburgh defines “sustainability” as balancing equity, environment, & economics so current and future generations can thrive.

Learn more: https://www.sustainable.pitt.edu/


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
Pan-Canadian Protocol for Sustainability No
SDG Accord 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) Yes

A brief description of the institution’s formal sustainability commitments, including the specific initiatives selected above:

2020 - Pitt joined more than 1,500 signatories (including 123 universities) in signing the “America is Still In” declaration on climate action, released on December 12, 2020, to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement. Learn more: https://www.sustainable.pitt.edu/pitt-signs-all-in-national-declaration-on-climate-action-clean-recovery/

2018 - Present - Pitt has been working on its yet-to-be adopted Institutional Master Plan (IMP), which provides details related to City of Pittsburgh regulations, including building height and mass, parking, urban design, and neighborhood compatibility. As with the Campus Master Plan, sustainability is embedded throughout the IMP. Learn more: https://www.campusplan.pitt.edu/imp

2018 - Pitt published its Campus Master Plan, which presents what is possible for our Pittsburgh campus for decades to come, including sustainability embedded throughout. Learn more: https://www.campusplan.pitt.edu/

2018 - Pitt became a founding member of the U.S. Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).

1990 - Pitt was one of the original signatories of the Talloires Declaration, which supports mobilizing the resources of higher education for sustainability.


Website URL where information about the institution’s sustainability planning efforts is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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In 2019, the University of Pittsburgh began updating its "Plan for Pitt" into the "Plan for Pitt 2025." In early 2020, Sustainability was one of 4 themes selected for focus workshops: https://www.at.pitt.edu/news/focus-plan-pitt-theme. Completion of the plan was delayed due to the long-term strategic shifts arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, which also provided an opportunity to revisit and strengthen the plan’s goals for diversity, anti-racism and social justice. Its completion is expected in 2021. Learn more: https://www.pittwire.pitt.edu/news/plan-pitt-2025-gets-revised-timeline

2018 University of Pittsburgh Chancellor's video introducing the Pitt Sustainability Plan: https://youtu.be/x_ur4V9EVyI

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.