UW News

April 22, 2020

University of Washington releases new Sustainability Strategy

UW Sustainability

People walking near the George Washington statue on the UW campus in Seattle. Photo taken September 27, 2018.Mark Stone/University of Washington

The University of Washington today released the draft of a new Sustainability Strategy that will guide university actions across a broad spectrum of sustainability policy for the next five years.

The strategy, which builds upon the UW Climate Action Plan, includes five guiding principles and 10 measurable targets, along with annual actions to reach those targets. The draft was published on April 22, the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day, to support the UW’s existing sustainability work while setting goals for specific future efforts. The Sustainability Strategy represents the work of a cross-university planning team. UW Facilities Vice President Lou Cariello is the plan’s executive sponsor.

“We know that many UW staff, faculty and students are engaged in activities every day to advance sustainability initiatives across all of our campuses,” Cariello said. “This plan continues that work and sets goals and specific, targeted actions to ensure we align our collective efforts to optimize our impact for a bright future.”

The Sustainability Strategy spans all three UW campuses. The targets go beyond campus operations to include student experience, academic research and equity in recognition of the many aspects of sustainability. The planning team worked to consider equity and financial feasibility when drafting the targets and actions. Input from across the UW community was gathered throughout the fall and winter quarters through online surveys, direct outreach and events.

The plan’s guiding principles are: Ensure students achieve sustainability literacy; choose our research conscientiously; keep equity and inclusion at the center; use resources responsibly; and decarbonize. The 10 measurable targets all work toward at least one of these principles.

This plan is intended to be responsive to evolving campus needs. Every year under this Sustainability Strategy, the UW will evaluate the immediate actions needed over the next fiscal year in order to respond to changing realities and needs at our campuses.

“Sustainability is a shared value across the University of Washington, and this plan will allow all our campuses to better coordinate our actions to reach these targets,” said Claudia Frere-Anderson, director of UW Sustainability. “The Sustainability Strategy continues the progress from our Climate Action Plan with a broad approach to include multiple aspects of campus operations, student learning and experiences, academic research, financial feasibility and inclusion in the planning process each year.”

Over the next few months, the actions for the upcoming fiscal year will be finalized. All students, faculty and staff across the University of Washington are invited to provide their input on the best ways to reach the plan’s targets, as well as what might be missing from this Sustainability Strategy. The plan website at green.uw.edu/plan has an open survey to provide feedback, or you can email sustainabilityplan@uw.edu. Other opportunities to engage with the plan will be posted on the website as well.