Sustainability at SUU
 

Overview
What is Sustainability?

The United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development defines sustainability as the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. 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). 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. Below is an initial assessment of SUU's sustainability efforts and future efforts. 


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

President Wyatt recently created a Sustainability Committee to recommend the sustainability strategy and performance standards for the campus community. This committee is comprised of SUU faculty, staff, and students.
Curriculum
  • Updating the Sustainability Studies Minor which will help attract students to sustainability issues.
    • The Sustainability Club advances sustainability at SUU through individual action, community education and outreach, and working alongside administration to create meaningful change that is environmentally and socially just as well as economically responsible. The programs span from a community garden to a campus-wide bicycle lending program, with many projects and events in between.
Air & Climate
  • Annual heat plant emission reporting: Current production of campus emissions values reported to the Division of Air Quality are within the allowable amounts. 
  • 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.
Buildings
  • 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 committed to keeping SUU diverse and affordable.
  • Almost 1,000 students from over 60 different countries and territories enrolled at SUU.
  • International Affairs Profile 
  • SUU President Scott L Wyatt said, “Our goal is to keep school affordable, help students get into college and complete their degree.”   In FY19-20, SUU was the only Utah State higher education institution which did not increase tuition or student fees.
Energy
  • SUU's Energy Planning Team developed a Campus Energy Action Plan. 
    • This plan called for reducing the campus environmental footprint, specifically related to electrical energy consumption.
    •  Focus Areas are Sustainable Culture, Curriculum, Renewable Energy, and Campus Facilities.
    • SUU has a goal to increase electricity savings of 500,000 kWh over two years, a savings of over $40,000, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions of approximately 150 metric tons.
  • Campus Energy Action Plan
  • The following efforts increase energy efficiency on campus, resulting in energy and cost savings.
    • 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 - a systematic process developed to evaluate, document, and improve the operation 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.
Grounds
  • Areas of xeriscaping and drought tolerant plants lower the use of irrigation water and the use of fossil fuels for mowing and weed eating.
  • The Grounds and Gardens team plants 50-100 trees every year on campus (each tree can filter up to 60 lbs. of pollutants annually).
  • The Native Plant Garden serves as a demonstration garden for campus curriculum and for community members.
  • The Utility Services team supports "Dark Sky Friendly" lighting across campus.
Purchasing
  • 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, and other efficiency measures 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.
Waste
  • 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.
Water
  • 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 a 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?

Curriculum
  • SUU can create integrative teaching and learning opportunities focusing on sustainability (ie. Sustainability in Jump Start, Semester in the Parks, and other programs).
Research
  • 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?
Transportation
  • Encourage bike and pedestrian commuting.
  • Install EV charging stations.
Waste
  • 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?



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.

Sustainability Events