Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 67.00
Liaison Alistair Hall
Submission Date March 15, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Vassar College
PA-2: Sustainability Planning

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.50 / 4.00 Alistair Hall
Sustainability Assistant
Dean of Strategic Planning
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

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

A brief description of how the institution’s strategic plan or equivalent guiding document addresses sustainability:

A campus Master Plan was published Spring 2017. The document outlines clear goals and values for sustainability, historic preservation, and inclusive communities with a particular focus on the number of building construction and renovation needs outlined for the next 1-15 years. It is currently the College's highest level strategic planning document.


A copy of the strategic plan:
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The website URL where the strategic plan is publicly available:
Does the institution have a published sustainability plan (apart from what is reported above)? :
No

A copy of the sustainability plan:
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The website URL where the sustainability plan is publicly available:
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Does the institution have a published climate action plan (apart from what is reported above)? :
Yes

A copy of the climate action plan:
The website URL where the climate action plan is publicly available:
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Does the institution have other published plans that address sustainability or include measurable sustainability objectives (e.g. campus master plan, physical campus plan, diversity plan, human resources plan)? :
Yes

A list of other published plans that address sustainability, including public website URLs (if available):

Vassar Campus Arboretum Tree Care Plan, was adopted in Summer 2013. It outlines goals and objectives for managing the campus landscape. You can read the document here: https://sustainability.vassar.edu/docs/VCCampusTreeCarePlan.pdf


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Curriculum?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Curriculum and the published plans in which each objective is included:

The Vassar Climate Action plan outlines goals for improving sustainability in the curriculum, which include running a Sustainability Literacy test. The plan calls for expanding the number of course offered and increasing the number of students who graduate from programs that have sustainability learning outcomes.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Research?:
No

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Research and the published plans in which each objective is included:
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Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Campus Engagement?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Campus Engagement and the published plans in which each objective is included:

The Tree Care Plan requires an annual Arbor Day observance, an annual project that increases public engagement on campus, and a service learning project. In order to re-certify with the Arbor Day Foundation each year, evidence of each activity needs to be documented.

In Tree Care Plan this is covered by the following:
Goals and Targets:
c. Community Engagement: Regularly scheduled events for the wider community will educate the public about the importance of tree conservation, Vassar’s ecologically friendly efforts, and the other benefits of trees. The organized creation of volunteer opportunities for on-campus restoration efforts, including but not limited to invasive species removal, rain garden maintenance and stream clean ups, will serve to instill a conservation-ethic in the student-body. Attendance at events will be tracked, with a goal of increasing participation over time.

Service projects will be viewed mainly as a benefit to students and the community in general, with secondary benefits to grounds or infrastructure. The primary value of service projects for students and faculty is that these projects deepen social networks and strengthen commitment to the college community as a whole, as well as to practice civic engagement and responsibility. There is also learning involved in the large task of organizing, publicizing, overseeing, and follow-up on a service project. In order to identify ways to do these projects, the Tree Committee will consult with B&G and the Union once a year to explore opportunities for student/faculty service projects on campus. The Tree Committee will work to identify dedicated project organizers who can take charge of a service project and follow-up.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Public Engagement?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Public Engagement and the published plans in which each objective is included:

The Tree Care Plan requires an annual Arbor Day observance, an annual project that increases public engagement on campus, and a service learning project. In order to re-certify with the Arbor Day Foundation each year, evidence of each activity needs to be documented.

In Tree Care Plan this is covered by the following:
Goals and Targets:
c. Community Engagement: Regularly scheduled events for the wider community will educate the public about the importance of tree conservation, Vassar’s ecologically friendly efforts, and the other benefits of trees. The organized creation of volunteer opportunities for on-campus restoration efforts, including but not limited to invasive species removal, rain garden maintenance and stream clean ups, will serve to instill a conservation-ethic in the student-body. Attendance at events will be tracked, with a goal of increasing participation over time.

Service projects will be viewed mainly as a benefit to students and the community in general, with secondary benefits to grounds or infrastructure. The primary value of service projects for students and faculty is that these projects deepen social networks and strengthen commitment to the college community as a whole, as well as to practice civic engagement and responsibility. There is also learning involved in the large task of organizing, publicizing, overseeing, and follow-up on a service project. In order to identify ways to do these projects, the Tree Committee will consult with B&G and the Union once a year to explore opportunities for student/faculty service projects on campus. The Tree Committee will work to identify dedicated project organizers who can take charge of a service project and follow-up.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Air & Climate?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Air & Climate and the published plans in which each objective is included:

The Vassar Climate Action Plan sets a carbon neutrality goal for the college of 2030.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Buildings?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Buildings and the published plans in which each objective is included:

The Vassar Climate Action Plan and the Campus Master Plan have outlined goals for sustainability in forthcoming building renovations and construction. This includes the use of LEED Silver and Passive House as guidelines along with EUI (Energy Use Intensity) as a core metric for the design process.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Energy?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Energy and the published plans in which each objective is included:

The Climate Action Plan sets goals for energy efficiency, fuel switching, and behavior change to achieve energy reductions towards the carbon neutrality goal. Thanks to the Climate Action Plan guidance which calls for more active involvement of the Senior Officers in sustainability efforts, the College is working on an Energy Master Plan and has set a goal to reduce energy usage by 20% in the next 5 years, which will be achieved by pursuing an Energy Performance Contract.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Food & Dining?:
No

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Food & Dining and the published plans in which each objective is included:
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Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Grounds?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Grounds and the published plans in which each objective is included:

The Tree Care Plan and our certification through Tree Campus USA require that we track annual expenditures, tree plantings, tree removals, and volunteer hours for service projects. The Arboretum Committee has set a goal to plant more trees than are removed each year.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Purchasing?:
No

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Purchasing and the published plans in which each objective is included:
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Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Transportation?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Transportation and the published plans in which each objective is included:

The Vassar Climate Action plan studies campus transportation practices including air travel, commuting, and campus vehicle usage. Mileage data from the campus vehicle fleet is being compiled and analyzed to assess the right size of the fleet.

The CAP sets a goal to explore the following tactics within the next 3 years:
- a carbon onset fund for JYA and Employee travel
- providing virtual meeting options
- incentives to consolidate and reduce trips
- an employee parking fee to support alternative transportation options


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Waste?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Waste and the published plans in which each objective is included:

The 2016 Climate Action identifies a long term goal of being a zero-waste campus, and in the short term a target for improving our waste diversion rate.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Water?:
No

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Water and the published plans in which each objective is included:
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Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Diversity & Affordability?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Diversity & Affordability and the published plans in which each objective is included:

The campus master plan has Diversity and Inclusive Communities as a core principle of the plan. This includes prioritizing ADA accessibility and design buildings that foster community building.
As goal this includes:
- all construction projects should include general neutral restrooms
- a study of all existing buildings on how to include general neutral restrooms if none are currently present
- Access, diversity, and equity, as shared values of the Vassar community, must be reflected in and help shape all decisions on campus planning.


Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Investment & Finance?:
No

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Investment & Finance and the published plans in which each objective is included:
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Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address Wellbeing & Work?:
No

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address Wellbeing & Work and the published plans in which each objective is included:
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Taken together, do the plan(s) reported above include measurable sustainability objectives that address other areas (e.g. arts and culture or technology)?:
No

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives that address other areas and the published plans in which each objective is included:
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Does the institution have a formal statement in support of sustainability endorsed by its governing body (e.g. a mission statement that specifically includes sustainability and is endorsed by the Board of Trustees)? :
No

The formal statement in support of sustainability:
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The institution’s definition of sustainability (e.g. as included in a published statement or plan):
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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
Second Nature’s Carbon Commitment (formerly known as the ACUPCC), Resilience Commitment, and/or integrated Climate Commitment No
The Talloires Declaration (TD) No
UN Global Compact No
Other multi-dimensional sustainability commitments (please specify below) No

A brief description of the institution’s formal sustainability commitments, including the specific initiatives selected above:
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The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
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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.