Michigan State University 2007 Campus Sustainability Leadership Award Application
Four-year and graduate institutions over 7,500 student FTE
|Students tending crops in unheated greenhouses at Student Organic Farm|
Director, Campus Sustainability
106 Olds Hall,
East Lansing, MI
Governance & Administration
Multiple accomplishments in governance and administration at MSU over the past two years have propelled us towards institutional sustainability. The Faculty Voice effort, begun in Spring 2006, has reexamined the role of faculty -- and, by default, the entire community --in university governance. In Fall 2005, president Lou Anna Simon launched “Boldness By Design,” a campus vision that seeks to 1) enhance the student experience; 2) improve research opportunities; 3) enrich community, economic and family life; 4) expand international reach; and 5) strengthen stewardship.
The stewardship effort of Boldness by Design has brought new positions: a campus environmental management systems (EMS) manager, energy and environment engineer, solid waste coordinator, and an environmental stewardship project coordinator. Using a collaborative and “systems” approach, an Environmental Stewardship Systems Team has been addressing our two most pressing areas of stewardship – energy and solid waste (see operations section for more detail).
MSU’s National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory has received ISO 14001 certification and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s “Clean Corporate Citizen” award. MSU is the first university in the state to receive it. We are also pursuing ISO 14001 certification in other units.
The University Committee for a Sustainable Campus (UCSC) helped produce the 2007 Campus Sustainability Report. This edition includes 88 indicators and recommendations for 10 key indicators. Summer focus groups will discuss those key indicators, and larger community forums will continue the discussion in the fall. For the third year, the UCSC and the Office of Campus Sustainability (OCS) are running the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development speaker series with internationally-noted speakers. Attendance at these events totals between 1,000 and 2,000 per year.
This is the sixth year of our Vision 2020 campus land use planning effort. The past year saw a broadly participative update of the plan, which added environmental stewardship principles including:
- Incorporate design concepts associated with active living communities to make it easy for people to include physical activity in their daily lives.
- Establish a coordinated bicycle system including convenient and appropriately sized storage facilities, bike lanes within roadways, and pathways where appropriate.
MSU is the lead institution in the Michigan Higher Education Partnership for Sustainability (MiHEPS), hosting its web site and listserv and most recently a meeting to discuss collaboration between state government and other institutions around energy and climate change. A steering committee led by MSU has been formed to pursue this collaboration, including a likely statewide conference this year.
MSU is a member of AASHE, ULSF, NWF Campus Ecology and the Wege Foundation’s Economicology group, and Central Michigan Sustainable Business Forum. In November 2006 MSU joined the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) committing to 2% annual reductions in greenhouse gas reductions. In July 2006 MSU joined the Michigan Business Pollution Prevention Partnership making a commitment to undertake voluntary pollution prevention and to commit to prevention and reduction goals. In 2005 MSU Grounds Department joined the EPA GreenScapes Alliance. Also in 2005 MSU was selected as a Michigan Cool Workplace Award for its commitment to employees.
The Boldness by Design initiative’s environmental stewardship component focuses on waste reduction and energy conservation. Using a systems analysis approach teams are engaged in detailed studies this summer and fall. Waste reduction efforts include development of an expanded recycling center; creation of a task force to identify the inputs and outputs of campus waste stream and to recommend approaches to reduce waste. A second task force is analyzing energy usage and various alternative conservation approaches in some test buildings.
Energy conservation has historically been a key consideration in the development of facilities, including its co-generation power plant. With a centralized energy management system in all major buildings MSU maintains the lowest electrical consumption per square foot among the Big Ten universities as documented by a survey for fiscal year 2005/06. The University has joined the Chicago Climate Exchange(CCX) in November 2006 making a commitment to reduce CO2 emissions and develop off-set programs.
MSU Construction Standards have incorporated LEED design practices specific to each major category which are posted on our website. MSU has committed to meet LEED standards for new buildings, including the new Chemistry Building addition, which is seeking a LEED Silver rating and a newly announced art museum. MSU is eager to test and employ new technologies and products, such as waterless urinals, which then become part of the standards. Construction debris is systematically recycled. We achieved a 95% recovery rate at our Chemistry addition. MSU landscape architects and grounds personnel have employed design strategies for parking lots to reduce storm water run off and frequency of mowing, and are testing the efficiency of a drip style irrigation system to reduce water use.
MSU has expanded its fleet of hybrid vehicles, adding 15 new hybrids this spring. All farm equipment and University owned diesel trucks on campus have switched to bio-diesel fuel in the past two years. With the tremendous success of a voluntary effort to enhance bicycling, MSU has created a full-time Bike Center in fall 2006. The MSU Bike Project has leased more than 400 bikes to the campus community by repairing discarded bikes and making them available, offering bike repair clinics every week to bicyclists on our campus, and also offering professional bike repair service 40 hours a week.
Housing and Food Services has served exclusively “Fair Trade” coffee, tea, sugar and chocolate since 2006 and sourcing locally grown apples. They now use Green Seal certified cleaners, established Energy Star dorm rooms to show to new and potential students during orientation and recruitment visits, and tackled many other issues related to sustainability. The “Pack-up, Pitch-in” spring effort distributes abandoned materials from residence halls to local nonprofits.
Operations has promoted research efforts with faculty and students in various areas during the past two years including building standards, solid waste, new uses for fly-ash and animal waste, copy paper purchasing, duplex printing defaults, dairy farm energy use, and test burns for two types of biomass fuels in the power plant.
Curriculum & Research
Curriculum development around sustainability continues to grow at MSU. Five times more courses on sustainability are offered this fall, than in 2000. In addition to the individual course offerings more new programs are being created. The graduate program in Environmental Science and Policy Program (ESPP) has connected environmental studies across the entire university making course and research opportunities more accessible regardless of discipline. This helps MSU to attract faculty who want to pursue interests in multiple disciplines.
Two new sustainability specializations at the undergraduate level are in development - one dealing with sustainable agriculture and food systems and the other with sustainability more broadly. The broader sustainability specialization will be submitted into the formal curriculum review process by mid-August with the expectation that it will begin Fall 2008. Several other noteworthy programs have joined the many already in existence. Science, Technology, Environment and Public Policy (STEPPs) is a joint effort of several colleges and schools. It joins RISE (Residential Initiative for the Study of Environment), Ecological Economics, International Development, Peace and Justice Studies, the Bailey Scholars Program, and Gender, Justice and Environmental Change as popular interdisciplinary programs dealing with key components of sustainability.
Multiple initiatives at MSU bring together operations and the diverse missions of the university: teaching, research and outreach.
- The Student Organic Farm (SOF) continues to expand as it enters its fourth year. Most recently the SOF has added beekeeping, chickens, and permaculture projects to vegetables, fruits and flowers. SOF launched a one-year “organic farming certificate program”. SOF is conducting research in the use of unheated greenhouses for extending the growing seasons in northern climates.
- MSU has created the Office of Bio-based Technologies to link faculty in Engineering, Natural Science, Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Packaging with MSU Extension and Agricultural Experiment Stations. This research has led to new businesses utilizing bio-based materials and fuels.
- MSU’s Global Observatory for Ecosystem Services is leading the study of the impact of land use changes on carbon cycles, using remote sensing data, and working with farmers and forest managers to manage the carbon and secure the benefits in the marketplace.
- The Land Policy Program examines the complex interface of humans and land use, conducting on Michigan’s land use patterns and working with the public and private sectors to translate findings into action
- The Sustainable Michigan Endowed Program (SMEP) is a recently formed collaboration of endowed chairs in Agriculture and Natural Resources, including recently created Rachel Carson Chair in Ecological Sustainability. SMEP funds related research into Michigan’s sustainability and hosts programs and forums.
- The Knight Center for Environmental Journalism recently received a $2 million grant to expand its highly recognized efforts for training current and future journalists. The most recent issue of their award winning publication EJ did a major research piece on the environmental impacts of the Big Ten schools.
- Opening in 2007 are the new Energy and Automotive Research Laboratories that will focus on improving automobile engine efficiency, reducing vehicle emissions, and developing new bio-based fuels
Involvement in sustainability efforts across all sectors of the campus community is growing. Michigan Students for Sustainability, a coalition of campus groups planned and hosted a variety of events to celebrate national Campus Sustainability Day and Earth Day this year. They are planning a week-long set of events this Fall and are reaching out to students at other Michigan campuses to connect social justice, peace, and environmental groups under the umbrella of sustainability.
A planning committee representing the campus museums, Office of Campus Sustainability, libraries, Campus Planning, and health office is organizing a week-long celebration of the many benefits of walking centered around Gandhi’s birthday, one of history’s most famous walkers. The week will include walking tours of museums, gardens, natural areas along with walking meetings, walking meditations, charitable walks, and exhibits, lectures, and workshops about walking for health and social justice, and transportation alternatives.
The Office of Campus Sustainability launched an ongoing series of workshops for employees on “Sustainability – What It Can Look Like in the Workplace and the Home” in Spring 2007. More workshops are scheduled for the fall and we plan to develop shorter presentations to become part of new employee orientation. Our budget request for the coming year includes funds to develop short videos to be used in various formats to help raise awareness around sustainability and personal responsibility.
Representatives from the Environmental Science and Policy Program, Center for Advanced Study in International Development, the Office of Campus Sustainability and local environmental groups have developed a web page on climate information listing local researchers, tips, and basic science for our community. The Office of Campus Sustainability developed a series of five posters around climate change and personal action that have been posted around campus to raise awareness and encourage action. Our Residence Hall system, housing 15,000 students, has been particularly supportive of this effort.
A campus Food Systems committee has been formed that includes faculty, staff, and students who are interested in looking at how we teach, research, grow, prepare, eat and relate to food. The initial effort featured a three-day campus visit by John Turrene, a noted chef and campus food leader who met with many involved with our campus food system from production, purchasing, preparation, research, and teaching. This emerging effort will spend a day this summer in retreat to envision a sustainable food system for the campus and begin mapping our way towards it.
MSU Extension partners with the wood products industry to provide sustainable forestry training for loggers, state and private foresters, and landowners. Loggers receive a certificate upon completion of the program.
Community Service & Outreach
MSU has long been dedicated to the wider community in our own backyard and around the globe. The word limits the examples we can share. Our University Extension and Agricultural Experiment Stations are active in all 83 counties of Michigan and our Center for Community and Economic Development (CCED) is involved in major Michigan cities. CCED has also been working with Urban Core Mayors group in Michigan to assist in developing distressed urban areas. Last Spring they organized a conference (adhering to green conference principles) with OCS on utilizing university endowments, public pension funds, and foundation investments to spur economic development while enhancing and preserving environmental health.
In the past 18 months under the leadership of President Lou Anna Simon, MSU has initiated and funded a private/public partnership, “Prima Civitas”. This effort is using a major US Department of Labor WIRED grant to support regional economic development throughout mid-Michigan through worker re-training efforts. The Poverty Reduction Initiative is working locally in the five counties of Northwest Michigan to reduce poverty by 25% by the year 2010. Capacity building includes "welfare to career" workplace success models and stakeholder investment by area employers in a private-public job retention partnership. MSU has facilitated development of a regional Local First economic development initiative with locally owned businesses and neighborhood organizations.
The MSU Museum hosts the Great Lakes Folk Festival that showcases the traditional cultural treasures of the nation's Upper Midwest and a sampling of the best of traditional artists from around the country and the world. MSU has been an active with the development of a Community Media Center that promises to offer access to media production for the wider community.
The C. S. Mott Center for Sustainable Food Systems has been building linkages between local farmers and consumers integrating $1 million worth of local apples into K-12 schools. We recently signed a memorandum of understanding to assist Michigan Department of Environmental Quality with training and research related to their mission of protecting our environment. Led by MSU microbiologists hazardous carbon tetrachloride has been removed from the St. Joseph aquifer in Schoolcraft County.
We work overseas in many countries with a historic focus on Africa and special emphasis on appropriate technology and community development. We assisted with the redevelopment of Rwanda after the genocide through development of specialty coffee growing. This has led to the development of 13 cooperatives that raise and sell fair trade coffee. (In the past two years MSU closed the loop by purchasing that coffee). Two Tanzanian villages are benefiting from the work of students and faculty in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Working with a Michigan nonprofit, Solar Circle, they are trying to launch an industry that will supply this East African nation with solar ovens manufactured from locally available materials.
Last year 11,274 MSU students were involved in Service Learning projects, up 32% from just two years ago. Since 2001, through the “Small Town Design Initiative”, students have provided design options for more than 50 communities throughout Michigan in collaboration with those communities.