Intergovernmental Internship Cooperative

What is Sustainability?

Over 800 higher education institutions have begun tracking their sustainability efforts in the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS) based upon the United Nations framework developed in the Bruntland Commission Report, Our Common Future: The Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development. In this report, sustainability is discussed in the framework of sustainable development which “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” (AASHE, 2018). This understanding of sustainability is used to tackle complex global issues by considering the relationships between society and culture with economic development and environmental sustainability, as illustrated in the Venn diagram. When adopting this integrative model for sustainability, universities play an important role. Through AASHE’s STARS Program, 17 aspects of sustainability are measured. Below is an initial assessment of these 17 aspects on SUU’s campus.

Sustainability, Efficiency, & Conservation at SUU
What is SUU doing well?

  • Updating the Sustainability Studies Minor which will help attract students to sustainability issues.
    • Earth Club is being re-branded as the Sustainability Club to build campus engagement, bridging curriculum to extra-curricular activities.
Air & Climate
  • Annual heat plant emission reporting: Current production of NOx is 92% below allowable emissions and SO2 is 99% below permitted levels.
  • Uses only ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel on campus to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions.
  • Refrigerant recovery/reclaiming recovers and recycles 100% of campus refrigerant, reducing the impact on the ozone layer.
  • As new buildings are built, they are built with energy efficiency in mind.
    • Center for Health and Molecular Science Building is LEED Gold Certified.
    • While LEED certification remains a popular credential for building construction, it is a very expensive stamp of approval. However, the State of Utah has its own "high-performance building standard" that public entities like SUU must follow, and it is comparable to LEED Silver rating. SUU is committed to highly efficient building practices, regardless of the LEED designation.
Diversity and Affordability
  • SUU has a commitment to keep SUU affordable and to recruit from diverse populations
  • Photovoltaic Solar Array installations at Facilities Management Administration Building/Shops – 94.5kW solar net metering systems saving the equivalent electrical power used by 70.19 homes in a year.
  • Recommissioning projects for increased energy efficiency across campus.
    • “Recommissioning" means that we reevaluate the ROI (return on investment) by considering aspects like energy efficiency, and consider whether improvements are needed throughout a whole building or within a single system (HVAC, etc.).
  • Weather stripping and caulking windows reduces energy waste across campus.
  • LED lighting upgrades across campus save as much as 90% energy usage over older lighting technologies.
  • Planted areas of xeriscaping and drought tolerant plants to lower the use of irrigation water and the use of fossil fuels for mowing and weed eating.
  • Plants 50-100 trees each year (each tree can filter up to 60 pounds of pollutants annually).
  • Native plant garden serves as a demonstration garden for campus and the community.
  • Dark sky friendly lighting throughout campus.
  • Paper products are made from recycled materials.
  • Require designers to select water-efficient fixtures and appliances, including low-flow faucets and shower heads, waterless or ultra-low flow urinals, sensor flushometer toilets, etc. for new construction.
  • Use of “Green Seal” certified chemicals – Spartan product line is effective and cost competitive, reducing the use of harmful chemicals for custodial use.
  • Recycle, compost, and salvage construction waste.
  • Recycle copper, brass, steel, aluminum, and stainless steel.
  • Over 50 recycling bins available across campus.
  • Installed water bottle refill stations to reduce plastic water bottle usage.
  • Replacement of natural turf in the football stadium with synthetic turf, saving thousands of gallons of water annually.
  • Installed 54 waterless urinals on the SUU campus, saving 40,000 gallons of fresh water annually on each urinal.
  • Utilized the Maxi-com irrigation computerized water management system to water only when necessary, lowering usage of irrigation water whenever it rains.
  • Utilized secondary water for irrigating campus between 800 W and the freeway.
  • Replaced water-cooled ice machines and split system A/C units with air cooled units. Each new machine saves several hundred gallons of water each day.

What could SUU do better?

  • SUU can create integrative teaching and learning opportunities focusing on sustainability (ie. Sustainability in Jump Start, Semester in the Parks, and other programs).
  • Faculty, staff and students have a breadth of research opportunities in sustainability.
Campus Engagement
  • More students are getting involved in sustainability efforts across campus.
Public Engagement
  • Work with cities and counties to create infrastructure for recycling, bike commuting, and other regional sustainability efforts.
Food & Dining
  • SUU Dining Services can publicize its commitment to sustainable efforts.
  • Community gardens and composting?
  • Encourage bike and pedestrian commuting.
  • Install EV charging stations.
  • Spread recycling efforts across campus and throughout the community. Coordination and Planning
  • Coordinate transportation, building use, and other efforts across campus to reduce SUU’s ecological footprint.
  • Opportunities to partner with counties and cities to increase sustainable infrastructure (ie. a recycling transfer station).
Investment and Finance
  • Consider green initiatives and practices in investments and finance.
Wellbeing and Work
  • Continue to develop health and wellness programs across campus.

What does the future hold?

Sustainability at SUU is at a tipping point. Students and faculty have an opportunity to look at the list above and find ways to create sustainable practices and opportunities across campus and throughout our communities.

Why can't we?

When students, faculty, and staff move to Cedar City from other places, they often ask the following questions:

Why can’t we recycle more? Recycle glass? Compost more? Recycle ink cartridges? Recycle e-waste?

The answer is often, “limited infrastructure”. Until Iron and other counties in southwest Utah have the infrastructure in place for recycling, recycling will continue to be a challenge. The good news is, a new recycling company is offering curbside recycling. Maybe convenience will lead to more people recycling and an investment in recycling infrastructure.

What can you do?

"Energy conservation at SUU is an initiative to which everyone can contribute; even small conservation efforts turn into big savings on a university campus."
Tiger Funk, Assistant Vice President for Facilities Management

What can you do?

Attend local government meetings.

Buy native plants from the SUU greenhouse.

Follow DNR's Lawn Watering Schedule.

Bike, walk, or use public transportation whenever possible.

Recycle paper, plastic, and cardboard throughout campus. Use the Binnies for other recycling.

Use the Binnies for other recycling.

Prototype reusable cup - SUUSA survey indicates strong student interest in sustainable practices such as reusable beverage cups and straws.

Native Plants - bee balm, wild bergamot

Native Plants - Purple threeawn

Native Plants - Giant sacaton grass

Bike Rental Station - The Dixie Center, St. George