Sustainability at Miami: Internal Progress Report FY 2018

Prepared by the Miami University Sustainability Committee, Sept. 2018

Miami University Commitment to Sustainability

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.

2016 SCAG

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 5: Demonstrate that faculty, staff and students have achieved a level of sustainability literacy through a literacy survey;

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.

Sustainability Committee

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.

Figure 1: Halls with LEED Certification Dates 2017-2018
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)
Figure 2: Water and Sewer Usage, Oxford Campus
[Doug Hammerle]
Fiscal Year Sq. Ft. Water (CCF) Sewer (CCF) Water/gsf Sewer/gsf
2016 7,518,061 230,690 211,862 0.0307 0.0282
2017 7,493,419 235,196 207,128 0.0314 0.0276
% Change -0.3% 1.9% -2.3% 2.2% -2.0%
  • 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.