Miami University Sustainability Committe Takes Charge

By Sarah Tyrrellimages

The Sustainability Committee at Miami University was founded in 2008. They have a broad charge, stated below, and they are composed of a diverse selection of Miami students and faculty members.

“The function of the Sustainability Committee is to promote environmentally and

economically sustainable practices at Miami University through collaboration among

students, faculty, staff, and the broader community. The committee seeks to enhance

understanding of sustainability‐related issues and opportunities at Miami University by

working with the Sustainability Coordinator to identify and prioritize ways to make Miami

more efficient, environmentally sustainable, and competitive. The committee will solicit

sustainability‐related inquiries and proposals, link student research and operational

challenges, collaborate in institutional research on existing practices and benchmarking,

and promote implementation of academic and operational innovations. The membership

of the Committee will include students, faculty, staff, and administrators from across

academic divisions and operational units of the university, and will report regularly to the

University Senate, the Provost, and the Vice President of Business and Finance Services.”

Essentially, the committee is responsible for promoting sustainable practices on both economical and environmental levels. They meet the third Tuesday of every month to work on and converse over this broad list of sustainable commitments and goals made in 2010, also known in their reports as SCAG. They work on producing reports either annually or every few years that show the measurements and results of these goals.

“In 2015 we are going to recommend goal changes,” said Yvette Kline, Director of Sustainability at Miami University and a Sustainability Committee member. “There were goals that weren’t met, but this has allowed the development of a conversation to get us closer to reaching these goals.”

During 2013-2014 school year, the committee focused on three primary areas. The first area was to develop a carbon action plan that would develop the framework for the reduction of carbon emissions beyond 2020.

The second area focused on performing a transportation study to provide data on commuter distances to campus as well as the use of buses and bicycles on campus.

Their final area of focus was the expansion of their sustainability reporting to possibly include an external stakeholder report in the near future.

The Sustainability Committee’s purpose is to engage both students and faculty on issues of sustainability on campus and encourage conversations that will hopefully lead to actions. Having a mix of faculty members and students on the committee allows for these conversations to reach different areas of the Miami community.

Miami University is an academic institution first and foremost. The likelihood of any university getting to net zero energy and waste is not strong at this point in time, but it is organizations such as the Sustainability Committee that get those conversations rolling.

Adding class options that touch on or are based on sustainability and sustainable practices is one way Miami invests into this newer concept of only taking what one needs so that future generations can thrive.

Sustainability is an interdisciplinary concept and more and more students are benefiting from the exposure they get through their courses. The sustainability co-major is another great way Miami is injecting this concept into their academics and investing in both their students and the future.

The Sustainability Committee members are key player in this movement at Miami University and with more reporting and measurements in the future, great things are expected to start because of this organization.

Photo License: Creative Commons

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