Submitted to Miami University President Gregory Crawford by the Sustainability Committee July 1, 2021
Miami University is emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic that caused a significant impact on University operations, including vacating residence halls in March 2020 and transitioning most of campus to online teaching and work.
During the 2020-2021 academic year, campus life looked different with many classes taught as hybrid or online and most campus activities and meetings held remotely. Nevertheless, throughout this time efforts to set and accomplish sustainability goals continued. As such, the University was able to continue to make progress on the University’s Sustainability Commitments and Goals (SCAG) that had been established in 2016.
This report by the Miami University Sustainability Committee provides evidence that the University has met or made significant progress toward the 2016 SCAG, and requests that the University retire the 2016 SCAG and establish broader, institutionalized sustainability pillars to guide Miami’s sustainability progress.
During Fiscal Year 2021 (July 1, 2020-June 30, 2021) the Sustainability Committee examined the 2016 SCAG and found the following:
- Carbon emissions from purchased electricity, natural gas, and coal were reduced from 2008- 2019 by 52% per gross square foot (meeting the 2030 goal), and 41% independent of gross square feet (meeting the 2025 goal).
- 29 buildings had been certified LEED Silver or Gold since the University’s first SCAG (2010).
- Miami’s forthcoming Climate Action Plan (CAP) will consider social, health, and racial justice issues when developing plans for climate resilience and carbon neutrality.
- An online student sustainability education module is slated to be implemented in late fall 2021.
- Numerous best management practices for grounds maintenance have been implemented, including water conservation using smart technology; and carbon sequestration will be considered when developing the University’s CAP.
- A commitment to transparency is evidenced through reporting to several external platforms, a more robust sustainability webpage, and the development of a carbon footprint dashboard.
Considering these successes, the Sustainability Committee recommends that the University retire the 2016 SCAG and establish three Miami University Sustainability Pillars - institutional-level commitments which originate from the President’s Office and are passed to campus divisional leaders who are responsible for establishing goals and metrics in collaboration with the Director of Sustainability.
The three pillars are:
- Commitment to an Equitable and Sustainable Campus Infrastructure
- Commitment to Enhancing Campus Culture
- Commitment to Responsible Resource Management
These Sustainability Pillars will provide a consistent foundation under which each division can establish goals and metrics that can be dynamic, agile, and responsive to constraints and innovations.
This report from Miami University’s Sustainability Committee (SC) summarizes and highlights the University’s sustainability efforts during Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 (July 1, 2020-June 30, 2021).
During this year, the COVID-19 global pandemic continued to affect higher education institutions all over the world, including Miami. Summer 2020 programs were cancelled and a partial return to campus for the Fall 2020 semester occurred with students returning to residence halls in stages mid-September. During this time, the SC continued to meet monthly to discuss the 2016 Sustainability Commitments and Goals (SCAG), current COVID-related challenges, and plans for future bold climate action initiatives.
Throughout this unprecedented period, the University’s commitment to sustainability did not waiver. This was especially evident when President Crawford formalized the University’s commitment to carbon neutrality by signing the Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitments (PCLC) Climate Commitment on September 22, 2020.
To support this commitment, President Crawford accepted the SC’s recommendation to form a Climate Action Task Force (CATF), appointing Drs. Jonathan Levy and Adam Sizemore as co-chairs. The CATF is tasked with drafting a Climate Action Plan (CAP) by spring 2024 which will outline the University’s plan for achieving carbon neutrality and increasing climate resilience.
Despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the CATF along with Miami’s SC, Sustainability Office, Student Sustainability Council (SSC), and Associated Student Government (ASG), as well as faculty, staff, students, and various departments across campus, have continued to maintain a focus on the University’s commitment to sustainability.
This report provides evidence that the University has met or made significant progress toward the 2016 SCAG, puts forth a new framework for establishing future commitments and goals, and summarizes FY 2021 sustainability efforts.
Section 1: Demonstrates that Miami has surpassed or made significant progress toward the 2016 SCAG, providing evidence that the University can retire these SCAG.
Section 2: Proposes the 2016 SCAG be replaced with three comprehensive sustainability principles originating from the President’s Office. These three “Sustainability Pillars” will provide all division leaders with guidance for setting new goals and metrics within their division.
Section 3: Summarizes actions by students, faculty, and staff which took place during FY 2021 demonstrating the University community’s widespread commitment to sustainability.
Submitted to President Crawford July 1, 2020
This report reviews activity of the Miami University Sustainability Committee during the FY2020, updates the University's progress toward the 2016 Sustainability Commitments and Goals, and outlines actions the Sustainability Committee as well as the Office of Sustainability plan to take during FY2021.
In June 2019, the Sustainability Committee submitted a new sustainability vision to President Crawford, with recommendations that included encouraging Miami to create a plan for carbon neutrality.
The vision was a direct result of President Crawford’s charge to the committee to prepare a new plan for sustainability that would reinforce Miami’s commitment towards sustainability that leveraged past successes yet set forth new aspirations.
In February 2020, the Committee submitted a subsequent report which recommended that President Crawford join over 400 other higher education institutions and sign the Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitments (PCLC) and create a Climate Action Plan Task Force whose mission will be to develop a plan for carbon neutrality.
The Committee determined that signing the PCLC could be the catalyst to engage the entire University community in developing a plan for carbon neutrality.
The President accepted this recommendation and planned to sign the PCLC on April 22, 2020, the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. The signing was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the transition to remote learning. The President did, however, name Jonathan Levy (Director of the Institute for the Environment and Sustainability) and Adam Sizemore (Sustainability Director) as co-chairs of the CAP Task Force and plans to sign the PCLC when the University returns to on-campus learning.
Miami made many other significant achievements related to sustainability during the FY2020. Some noteworthy ones include the following:
- Reduced energy-based carbon emissions by 51% per/gsf over a 2008 baseline.
- Achieved Gold LEED certification for Scott and Minnich Halls, bringing the University’s total number of LEED buildings to 29, which accounts for 28.3% of the gross square footage of buildings on the Oxford campus.
- Created the Student Sustainability Council to serve as an umbrella organization coordinating efforts of all student organizations focused on sustainability-related work.
- Improved efforts to communicate sustainability-related information internally and externally by enhancing Miami University’s Sustainability website, improving social media platforms, and drafting news stories about significant achievements.
Moving forward, the Sustainability Committee and Office of Sustainability will continue to support the University’s commitment to environmental, social and economic sustainability.
We will continue to meet monthly, virtually if necessary, to focus on three goals:
- finalize and implement the new 2020 commitments and goals proposed in the University’s new sustainability vision,
- continue to improve communication across campus and throughout the community to ensure Miami’s sustainability efforts are well-documented and transparent, and
- support the efforts of the Climate Action Plan Task Force, as well as other entities that are striving to ensure Miami fulfills its mission as an academic institution.
While the COVID-19 pandemic created uncertainty at levels no one could have ever anticipated, the Committee is dedicated to supporting the University’s efforts to remain a thriving institution.
Submitted to President Crawford for consideration by the Miami University Sustainability Committee June 1, 2019.
Miami has been a leader in energy reduction on campus among universities nationwide for the past decade. To prepare for the next decade, Miami University President Greg Crawford charged the Miami University Sustainability Committee in January 2019 to prepare a new sustainability plan.
For a full copy of the 66-page report, contact Adam Sizemore, Director of Sustainability, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In February 2019 President Crawford charged Miami University’s Sustainability Committee with the task of preparing a new plan for sustainability by June 1, 2019 that would reinforce Miami’s commitment towards sustainability and leverage past successes yet set forth new aspirations. The President asked that the plan incorporate the following objectives:
Obj 1: Should Miami University become the most sustainable university in the country? Why?
Obj 2: Establish a new baseline and metrics.
Obj 3: Assess our current portfolio of programs and curriculum across all campuses.
Obj 4: Assess our current portfolio of research.
Obj 5: Enhance collaborations beyond departments and programs.
Obj 6: Enhance student efforts on sustainability through collaboration.
Obj 7: Develop a technology plan that is realistic and doable.
Obj 8: Connect our sustainability efforts across our campuses and community.
Obj 9: Connect with external partners.
Obj 10: Should Miami sign the President’s Climate Leadership Commitments.
The Sustainability Committee formed seven subcommittees tasked with summarizing current efforts and identifying new opportunities. From these efforts the Sustainability Committee developed a new sustainability vision that will leverage Miami’s past success, as well as the wealth of resources from Miami students, faculty, staff, alumni and community partners. This vision includes the following:
- Become a leader in higher education by working with other universities, especially those in Ohio, to recognize how sustainability is integrally tied to a liberal arts education.
- Create new sustainability commitments and goals (SCAGs) focused on reducing carbon emissions, creating a campus culture that supports sustainability, and being wise stewards of our resources.
- Maintain an inventory of courses, programs and research focused on sustainability, seek additional funding for sustainability-focused research, and communicate our successes.
- Expand student opportunities by creating new programs such as a Green Student Advisory Council and an online training program to teach students about sustainability efforts on campus.
- Continue to use the Lean process to manage resources wisely, with an increased emphasis on technological advances; and establish institutional policies for processes ranging from equipment purchases to remote meeting access.
- Create an Environmental Justice speaker series and host community forums on social and environmental issues of inequity.
- Collaborate with energy companies, the Oxford community, surrounding communities, business partners and universities to create innovate solutions for collectively reducing emissions.
- Commit to achieving carbon neutrality in the near future.
To turn this vision into reality, the Sustainability Committee emphasizes the importance of full administrative support, the need for more staff to assist the Director of Sustainability, and the formation of a task force to develop a plan for carbon neutrality.
- After review in August, and the first meeting of the Sustainability Committee this semester on Sept. 20, President Crawford presented a new charge: "to further research and explore an internal plan for Miami University to achieve carbon neutrality" and report by February 1, 2020.
Carbon Neutrality Pathways: Further Examination
Submitted to President Crawford for consideration by the Miami University Sustainability Committee February 1, 2020.
Addendum to: Commitment to Lead: A proposed, renewed vision to position Miami University as a sustainability leader among higher education institutions (June 2019)
In September 2019, Miami University President Gregory Crawford charged Miami’s Sustainability Committee with examining issues to help the University decide whether to create a plan for carbon neutrality under the Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitments (PCLC), or to create a plan independent of the PCLC.
The Sustainability Committee examined practices of over 60 universities in the United States. Carbon neutrality plans created by other institutions, whether under the PCLC or independent of the PCLC, generally called Climate Action Plans, describe how institutions plan to achieve net zero carbon emissions and detail costs and barriers.
The PCLC provides colleges and universities with guidelines for addressing issues related to climate change. Institutions can choose from three commitments under the PCLC:
- Resilience: Committing to adapt to the impacts of climate change through campus/community engagement.
- Carbon: Committing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve carbon neutrality as soon as possible.
- Climate: Committing to develop a resilience plan and achieve carbon neutrality (Resilience + Carbon).
For both Carbon and Climate Commitments, the PCLC requires signatories to commit to net zero emissions for (1) direct emissions produced through campus activities (Scope 1); (2) indirect emissions from purchased energy (Scope 2); and (3) indirect emissions from (a) student, faculty, and staff commuting; and (b) air travel paid by/through the institution (Scope 3).
The schools we examined that have committed to carbon neutrality - whether under the PCLC or not - committed to net zero emissions for direct energy (Scope 1) and indirect emissions from purchased electricity (Scope 2). Of the 11 schools examined that have committed to carbon neutrality independent of the PCLC, we found that some do not include Scope 3 emissions in their definition of carbon neutrality, some do include Scope 3 commuting and air travel emissions, and others indicate that they are “considering” Scope 3 emissions.
Since 2008, Miami University has achieved a 51% reduction in Scope 1 and 2 energy emissions due to a comprehensive and innovative transformation of its campus energy systems. With continued implementation of the University Utility Master Plan, it is foreseeable that the bulk of Scope 1 and 2 emissions will be further reduced.
While including Scope 3 emissions in our institutional definition of carbon neutrality would require innovative solutions and the purchase of carbon offsets, it would demonstrate Miami’s leadership in sustainability and serious commitment to carbon neutrality. As a nationally recognized academic institution that has a strong relationship with the City of Oxford, the University is well poised to do this work.
Since Miami University has already made a commitment to carbon neutrality, the next step is to create a Climate Action Plan. This can be achieved independently of the PCLC; however, by becoming a signatory of the PCLC, Miami would be part of a large (>400) network of colleges, provided with a timeline for reporting, and some unique options for verifying offsets that are not available outside the PCLC.
In addition, signing the PCLC could empower faculty, staff and students to recognize the role they need to play in achieving carbon neutrality.
Based on its research and findings, the Committee recommends that Miami University become a signatory of the Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitments – and do so by April 22, 2020, the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day.
Miami University is committed to sustainability in our academic programs, physical campus and operations, and university mission by promoting environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and economic viability for current and future generations.
The Miami University Sustainability Commitments and Goals (SCAG) were first established in 2010 with broad stakeholder input and later endorsed by former President Hodge.
Through concerted efforts in energy and infrastructure planning, changes to operations and practices, and the development and enhancement of academic programs, most of the 2010 goals had been met by 2015, and as such the University drafted a new set of goals in 2016.
The 2016 SCAG were first presented to outgoing President Hodge, then reviewed and endorsed by President Crawford, Provost Callahan and Faculty Senate in fall 2016.
The 2016 SCAG include:
Goal 1: Continue to implement long-term changes in energy infrastructure, operations, and practices to reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases relative to Oxford Campus FY 2008 (151,408 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents) 30% by 2020, 40% by 2025 and 50% by 2030;
Goal 2: When possible, consider the social cost of carbon and the incremental cost of greenhouse gas reduction when evaluating alternative investments into energy infrastructure;
Goal 3: Achieve LEED Silver (Version 4), 2 Green Globes, or Living Building Challenge 3.0 for all new construction and major renovation projects;
Goal 4: Support best management practices in grounds maintenance, with a focus on classifying all of Miami’s lands with green care plans by end of FY2017;
Goal 6: Continue to track and measure University sustainability efforts through the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s Sustainability, Tracking Assessment & Reporting System (STARS), with the next submission due March 2019.
While Miami University’s Sustainability Committee does not implement the SCAG, our role includes communicating with entities that implement these policies and programs, and also to report on progress in these areas.
Since the last internal report (FY 2014) much has changed at Miami University in terms of sustainability oversight. The first Director of Sustainability retired in July 2016.
During the 2016-17 academic year, the part-time Sustainability Coordinator served as the key sustainability liaison while a search for the new Director commenced. The initial search failed to fill the position and a new search commenced during the 2017-18 academic year.
Also during that time, the Coordinator resigned, which left both positions vacant during the 2017-18 academic year.
Despite these vacancies, the Sustainability Committee, comprised of ~30 members including faculty, staff and students from across the University, continued to meet during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 years, focusing on making progress toward the SCAG and continuing to track efforts measured by STARS.
During both years the committee was co-chaired by Tim Cameron, then Chair and Professor in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, and Suzi Zazycki, Associate Director of the Institute for the Environment and Sustainability.
Status of 2016 SCAG
The University’s commitment to Sustainability continues, and the following accomplishments are noted by the Committee:
Goal 1: Relative to FY 2008, carbon dioxide emissions were reduced by 33%, and energy consumption was reduced by 36%, on a square foot basis. Total carbon emissions were reduced by 21% (to 106,999 MTCO2e). No coal was burned in 2017. [Source: Doug Hammerle]
Goal 2: Evaluations of energy infrastructure investments currently focus on long-term cost savings and do not formally account for the social cost of carbon (SCC) and the incremental cost of greenhouse gas reduction.
Estimates of the SCC based on health and environmental effects vary widely—from $10 to $250 per MTCO2e.
At $50/MTCO2e (the value recommended by Yvette Kline, Miami’s former Director of Sustainability), the reduction in carbon emissions from 2008 to 2017 (44,409 MTCO2e) represents a SCC savings of over $2.2 million per year.
Goal 3: From 26 October 2016 through 12 March 2018, eleven buildings on the Miami campus received LEED Certification, two at Gold level and nine at Silver [Rob Bell]. See Figure 1.
|Date hall reopened||Hall||Date LEED Certification Received||LEED Certification Level|
|Fall 2017||Hamilton||March 2018||Gold|
|Fall 2016||Flower||November 2017||Silver|
|Fall 2016||Hahne||November 2017||Silver|
|Fall 2016||Hepburn||November 2017||Silver|
|Fall 2016||Brandon||November 2017||Silver|
|Spring 2016||Shideler||July 2018||Silver|
|Fall 2015||Dennison||March 2017||Gold|
|Fall 2015||Dorsey||March 2017||Silver|
Goal 4: Eight acres of land that had been farmed using traditional techniques are now farmed using organic techniques by Miami’s Institute for Food farm, with plans to request additional acreage. During 2018-19, an IES Professional Service Project will explore planting ~ten acres of mowed playing fields near Dewitt cabin with native grasses and trees to be used for educational purposes. Discussions are underway to assess the feasibility of requesting that some mowed areas on Western campus be converted to native plant communities.
Goal 5: Students, under the direction of faculty and the Sustainability Committee, have worked on developing a Sustainability Literacy Assessment tool.
In 2016, IES 474 students conducted an initial review of best practices as well as the STARS requirements for literacy assessment. During the 2016-17 academic year, a graduate student from IES piloted literacy assessment questions, and during the 2017-18 academic year another IES masters’ student refined the instrument.
The Sustainability Committee decided to suspend further development and implementation until a new Director of Sustainability was hired.
Goal 6: To continue to make progress on tracking for STARS reporting, the Sustainability Committee has engaged with others across campus to implement or record the following actions aligned with STARS requirements:
Student engagement–STARS recognition for engaging students in sustainability efforts
- EcoReps are student volunteers who are committed to promoting sustainability in the residence halls. During fall 2017, in addition to widely distributing 12 EcoFacts throughout the residence halls, EcoReps successfully implemented two active programs: (1) Secured funding for, designed, and gave away 1500 reusable water bottles to reduce the use of disposable water bottles; (2) Conducted 15 trash audits in the residence halls. Trash audits involve weighing and sorting trash from one day to determine the percentage of what could have been recycled. The community is then emailed the results, with suggestions and encouragement for improvement. Seventeen trash audits were planned for spring 2018.
Employee Engagement–STARS recognition for educating and engaging employees
- Information on sustainability was added to the new employee orientation program, and a handout titled “Sustainability at Miami University” created by the Sustainability Committee was distributed across campus to promote awareness among faculty and
- Over 814 Miami staff attended the January 2018 Lean Fair. The “Go Green” booth focused on recycling and was attended by almost all participants since it was strategically located at the entrance to the presentation
- 153 Lean projects were completed from 7-1-16 through 6-30-17, with a total cost avoidance of $2,478,728 and cost reduction of $841,863. Over 40% of the projects specifically identified “Going Green” as a goal, but the savings and cost reductions of all the projects contribute to economic sustainability. [Rosanne Gulley, Al Ryan]
- “Go Green” is a 3-hour seminar for Miami’s Lean training program. Forty-two Miami staff attended the fall 2017 and spring 2018 sessions and the seminar will be part of the regular continuing education program for Miami’s lean certification.
Operations and Procurement–STARS recognition for incorporating sustainability efforts in policies and procedures
- A sustainable procurement policy has been drafted and is currently under
- A LEED Green Cleaning Policy was drafted and is awaiting further attention by the Director of Sustainability.
- The Department of Kinesiology and Health has initiated a variety of efforts to explore alternative transportation options. This includes purchasing e-bikes for departmental use on campus, pursuing funding for bike racks, initiating a bike share program, and submitting an application to have Miami University designated as a Bicycle Friendly University through the League of American Bicyclists.
- From 2016 to 2017, campus water consumption increased 1.9% while sewer usage decreased 2.3%. On the basis of gross square footage of building space, water consumption increased 2.2% while sewer usage dropped 0%. (See Figure 2)
|Fiscal Year||Sq. Ft.||Water (CCF)||Sewer (CCF)||Water/gsf||Sewer/gsf|
- From FY 2016 to 2018 the total number of parking passes issued for the entire university dropped by 9%, including the regional campuses. There was a reduction in every parking category, with the exception of student yellow passes for remote lots (Ditmer, West Millett, Chestnut Fields). This implies a reduction in vehicle use to/from and on campus and a reduction in CO2 and GHG emissions from commuting. (See Figure 3)
- Finance–STARS recognition for socially and environmentally responsible investing:
- Undergraduate FSB students in coordination with faculty and alumni have embarked on a research project to explore best practices in socially responsible investing.
Figure 3: Reduction in Parking Passes Issued, 2016-2018
2018-2019 academic year
During the 2018-19 academic year the committee will be co-chaired by Helaine Alessio, Chair and Professor of Kinesiology and Health, and Suzi Zazycki, Associate Director of the Institute for the Environment and Sustainability. In July, 2018 Adam Sizemore began his tenure as Miami’s new Director of Sustainability. Adam Sizemore will serve on the committee, with the plan to serve as co- chair during the 2019-2020 academic year.
The Sustainability Committee will meet six times during the 2018-19 academic year, generally the 3rd Tues of the month at 8am. The first meeting will focus on establishing the agenda for the year based on input from the new Director of Sustainability, and creating an updated vision for the Committee.
The 2012 report measured Miami University's success in achieving targets announced by President David Hodge in 2011. The inaugural report details efforts during Fiscal Year 2012 (the 2011-2012 academic year).
Read more about it in the October 9, 2012 news story: Sustainability Commitments and Goals - First anual report, "Commitment to sustainability is broadening and deepening."
The 2011 Sustainability Commitments and Goals focused on energy, classroom learning, campus culture, buildings and landscape, campus practices, transportation and investments/endowments.
Progress highlighted by the report
- Miami continues to reduce its energy consumption and related emissions, part of utility planning that looks 50 years into the future;
- investments in green building and geothermal heating/cooling are paying off in reduced energy costs and improved living and working environments
- curricula related to sustainability are expanding across divisions;
- students, faculty, and staff are engaging sustainability where they live and work;
- ground work is being laid to reduce landfill waste through source reduction, better recycling, and the introduction of composting;
- planned transportation and storm water improvements are improving campus quality of life and efficiency;
- and investment and endowment decisions are becoming more publicly transparent.
- Towards compliance with Ohio House Bill 251, Miami has reduced its energy consumption 19.7% per gross square foot over the law's baseline year of FY 2004;
- utility-related CO2 emissions at the Oxford campus were reduced 7.4% overall and 17% per gross square foot relative to a FY 2008 baseline year;
- Miami is investing heavily in geothermal heating and cooling, and renovated Stoddard and Elliott Halls used 61% less energy compared to FY 2010;
- the Institute for the Environment and Sustainability (IES) was reorganized to focus on sustainability, including a revised “Sustainability” co-major;
- new "Eco-Reps" and "Sustainability Champions" programs were launched to engage students, faculty, and staff in greening where they live and work;
- a year-long program of "Go Green @ Miami" activities engaged students from orientation onwards to build a campus culture of sustainability;
- all new major building construction and renovation is now planned for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification;
- simultaneous LEAN processes identified opportunities to reduce waste, including strategies for better recycling and organics composting;
- Miami's Oxford campus has already met its goal of reducing water consumption to 2005 levels, and a master plan was approved to better manage storm water;
- a Campus Circulation Master Plan was adopted emphasizing alternative transportation, and ridership on Miami Metro grew 9% in FY 2012;
- investment and endowment decisions have become more publicly transparent;
- and Miami University joined peer institutions in the Association of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) Sustainability Tracking and Rating System (STARS).