Sustainability at IU

Sustainability Defined

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Sustainability has many definitions. The Office of Sustainability defines sustainability as thriving within our means to achieve balance between environmental health, economic prosperity, and social equity. Indiana University has a long history of environmental stewardship on campus. 

Defining Sustainability

Though the word "sustainability" has long been used within academic disciplines, its current usage in reference to the environment is often linked to the creation of the "Brundtland Commission" or the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), which defined sustainable development as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs" ("Report of the," 1987). The new definition emphasizes the importance of maintaining social, environmental and economic equity now and in the future. This was the definition adopted by IU's Task Force in Sustainability for use in the Campus Sustainability Report. 

Since this time, there has been a lively debate about how to define the term. The Office of Sustainability's definition centers around "thriving" because we want to emphasize the opportunity that shifts in consumption and resource use provide our communities. We often discuss "conservation" as having to do without, but we believe sustainable lifestyles and policies can enrich and enhance our quality of life by bringing us closer together as a community.

The pursuit of sustainable policies and lifestyles relies on balancing often competing priorities of the environment, economy and social justice. As illustrated below, only when all three priorities are taken into consideration can sustainability be achieved. 

Sustainability at IU

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Mission and Vision

  • Mission

    Our mission is to catalyze a thriving culture of sustainability in academic, research, operations, administration, campus life and community outreach to enhance environmental health, economic prosperity, and social equity.

  • Our 2020 Vision

    Indiana University is an international campus sustainability leader recognized for innovation and excellence in academic programs, research, campus environmental quality, campus operations and community outreach that facilitate and demonstrate the path to a more sustainable future.

OrganizationIUOS Organizational Chart

The IU Bloomington Office of Sustainability grew from a recommendation in the 2008 Campus Sustainability Report, which recommended an office that reports to the Provost and the Vice President for Capital Planning and Facilities.

The office has four full time staff: an University Director, Director, Assistant Director and Programs Assistant. A Campus Sustainability Advisory Board of approximately 40 members advises the office. CSAB is co-chaired by an academic representative and an operations representative to continue the dual nature of the office’s mission. Its members serve on seven Working Groups: Academic Initiatives, Energy and the Built Environment, Environmental Quality and Land Use, Food, Resource Use and Recycling, Sustainable Computing, and Transportation. Each of those Working Groups is co-chaired by academic and operational representatives and is composed of faculty, staff, student and community volunteers.

A retreat in 2010 attended by members of the Campus Sustainability Advisory Board set the 2020 Vision (listed above). Shortly after that retreat a list of 20 goals was prepared based on recommendations from the retreat, as well as goals recommended by the Campus Sustainability Report and the Campus Master Plan (documents available here).  

20 Goals For 2020 

  • Leadership
    • Continuously increase the quantity, quality, and diversity of participation in campus sustainability initiatives. 
    • Infuse sustainability into the culture, core values and administrative decision-making process.
    • Achieve the Platinum rating on the national Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System (STARS).
  • Academic Programs
    • Provide degree programs in environmental and sustainability studies at undergraduate, graduate & doctoral levels.
    • Make sustainability literacy and engagement a component of the educational experience for all IU graduates.
  • Energy, Atmosphere and Built Environment
    • Reduce overall campus greenhouse gas emissions by 30%.
    • Reduce energy consumption in campus buildings by 20%.
    • Reduce campus potable water use by 40%.
    • Create a plan to phase out coal combustion on campus.
    • Derive 15% of total energy use from renewable sources.
    • Fully meter all buildings with smart meters. Make utility information available to users.
    • Implement an internal audit/recommissioning team to provide for continuous improvement in building energy and resource effectiveness.
    • Certify at least 20 existing buildings using the USGBC LEED for Existing Buildings.
  • Transportation
    • Reduce demand for single occupancy vehicles on campus by 20%.
  • Food
    • Purchase 20% of food served in university-owned facilities from local growers/producers that embody sustainable practices in food production.
  • Environmental Quality
    • Reduce campus solid waste by 40%.
    • Plant 12,000 trees and provide the funding, manpower, expertise and equipment necessary to maintain the health and beauty of campus forests.
    • Restore the Jordan River as described in the Campus Master Plan.
  • Funding
    • Raise $10 million for sustainability projects through events, grants and donations.
    • Develop sustainable funding for the Office of Sustainability and its programs and internships.