Strategic plan's third goal bolsters sustainable behaviors, facilities

September 20, 2011

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State’s University Sustainability Council is drafting the University’s first strategic plan for sustainability. The council is seeking public input for five-goal plan during the drafting process. The third goal seeks to support and recognize efforts to make individual behaviors and facilities more resource efficient as well as celebrate the broader impact of Penn State through alumni and partners.

The goal states, "Engage the Penn State community in learning about and pursuing sustainability: involve all students, staff, faculty, administrators, alumni, partners and supporters in learning about -- and taking meaningful action towards -- a sustainable world."

"Goal 3 calls on us to 'walk the talk,' " explained Erik Foley, director of the Penn State Campus Sustainability Office and member of the council. "Opportunities are everywhere to improve operational effectiveness, promote wellness and control costs through smart sustainability practices in our offices, labs, classrooms, residence halls and dining areas. And because Penn State thrives beyond our walls, especially through our alumni, Goal 3 also asks how we can further engage and recognize their sustainability leadership."

Penn State already has substantial momentum towards achieving objectives set forth in Goal 3. The University has made tremendous progress in the area of sustainable operations and was named a Campus Sustainability Leader in the Campus Sustainability Report Card 2011. The University also has made longstanding commitments to energy conservation, greenhouse gas emissions reductions, water conservation and waste minimization, with more than 60 employee Green Teams (nine at non-University Park campuses) and 700 people enrolled in the Green Paws Workspace Certification Program. Learn more about Green Teams and Green Paws at online.

One striking example of Goal 3 excellence is the Penn State Wilkes-Barre campus recycling program. Tom Winter, professor of physics and chair of the Penn State Wilkes-Barre math and science faculty, has been running the program for more than 20 years. Winter and his wife, Janis, have worked with the custodial staff and have involved students in collecting, sorting and keeping meticulous records of the results. Another example is University Park's Methodology Center Green Team, which has reduced energy use 12 percent by completing Levels 1 and 2 of the Green Paws Program. The University already engages leading alumni through events such as the Center for Sustainability's Green Career Symposium, held in partnership with Career Services and numerous programs through the Office of Alumni Relations.

This fall, town hall meetings will be held at each Penn State location to give individuals the opportunity to discuss the plan in its current form and offer suggestions in support of each of the plan’s five goals. For a list of town hall meeting dates, visit online.

Individuals also may share ideas by email at or at online. Ideas submitted through Nov. 23 will be shared in a timely manner with the University Sustainability Council for their thoughtful consideration during the planning process. The final draft of the Strategic Plan for Sustainability is scheduled for completion by Dec. 31.

For a list of initiatives Penn State already is involved in, visit online.

For more information about the Strategic Plan for Sustainability, refer to the FAQ page at online.

  • Click on the image above to visit the form to share comments and ideas with the University Sustainability Council, or send an email by Nov. 23 to

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated October 21, 2011