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College and University Sector Strategy Efforts

Organization(s) Environmental Protection Agency
Project Description Colleges and universities are participating as a sector under the National Center for Environmental Innovation at EPA's Office of Policy, Economics and Innovations (OPEI) Sector Strategies Program. As part of this effort, the group is exploring creative ways to measure sector-wide environmental and economic progress using performance indicators, success stories, and other tools. The EPA program has developed a collaborative approach with six national organizations (known as the Coordinating Committee) to develop sector-specific approaches to assist colleges and universities in measuring their environmental progress as well as advancing the use of environmental management systems and reducing regulatory performance barriers. The partners include the American Council on Education (ACE), the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), the Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers, the Campus Consortium for Environmental Excellence (C2E2), the Campus Safety Health and Environmental Management Association (CSHEMA), and the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO). The Performance Measurement Work Group (made up of 16 colleges and universities) of the colleges and university sector is interested in how the participating schools are doing and identifying appropriate metrics to show improvement. Early in the process, the Work Group explored the viability of specific environmental indicators - energy use, solid waste/recycling, hazardous waste, and water use - and the ease of collecting the data on these measures using existing tools.

The Work Group developed a database tool to gather four years of retrospective data on energy use, hazardous waste, solid waste/recycling, and water consumption as key environmental indicators. The goal of this effort has been to explore the challenges of data collection and the potential value of the information. If this database is successful, the group may continue adding data on an annual basis. Schools can use the database tool to identify and analyze trends in their data in an easy-to-use format. The database also allows colleges and universities to track and benchmark their environmental indicators against aggregated data from other schools of similar size and type. School names are kept confidential. All colleges and universities are invited to input data and provide suggestions for improvement of this tool. Environmental indicators (or metrics) can help track performance, manage compliance, shape the future, and inspire action. They can measure outputs or impacts, such as pounds of trash or gallons of water used. Other indicators measure proactive efforts, such as the number of training classes. Others may include waste generation or utility usage, which are items central to continuous improvement efforts. Condition indicators measure water or soil quality, which are factors important to the community.

More Info http://www.c2e2.org/tools.htm
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Project Keywords
Industrial Sectors Educational Institutions
Activity Keywords Research and development
Newsletter Northeast States Pollution Prevention News - Vol. 15 No. 2, Fall 2005 [PDF]


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Last Modified 09/08/2009

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