The Montclair State University Facilities Division has launched its Facility Sustainability Plan, which aims to improve the division’s environmental sustainability performance in the future.
The plan is the result of a project that assessed the current state of operations, benchmarked performance against peer and sister institutions, and set realistic sustainability goals.
In January 2020, University Facilities entered into a contract with Brightworks Sustainability in collaboration with Ayers Saint Gross to develop the plan. The project began with an assessment and analysis and relied heavily on collecting and analyzing the division’s existing datasets and practices up to the onset of the pandemic. Once data collection was complete, an evaluation report was presented to the Steering Committee and the project was put on hold in June 2020 while the facilities helped guide the University through the pandemic.
The project restarted in the summer of 2021, with reprioritization and stakeholder engagement through a series of remote and hybrid focus groups over the summer and fall. During these sessions, university facility employees as well as a number of campus participants shared why work in their respective areas – green building infrastructure, engagement, procurement, transportation and parking, grounds and landscaping – should set sustainability goals. Common themes emerged, including a shared interest in:
- Strengthen collective action.
- Support human health and well-being.
- Preserve natural resources.
- Demonstrate leadership as an anchor institution.
- Responsible stewardship of University resources.
These focus groups developed goals, metrics, and actions that will support the next phase of sustainability work at Montclair while leading to the institution’s initial submission to the Association to Advance Sustainability in the higher education Sustainability Monitoring, Evaluation and Evaluation System aka AASHE STARS.
In addition to the focus groups, two surveys were distributed to approximately 300 university facility staff. The first assessed staff awareness and opinions of sustainability in general as well as specific initiatives and activities on campus. The second gave them the opportunity to learn more about the defined goals and to rate specific actions based on how difficult they think it would be to accomplish.
After focus groups and surveys, the plan was developed and finalized on April 8, 2022.
The Facility Sustainability Plan is organized into six chapters, each of which aligns with a set of departments within University facilities that are responsible for making progress toward specific sustainability goals. While some of the action items identified through engagement are unique to university facilities, others will require on-campus collaboration.
Each chapter of the Facility Sustainability Plan includes a description of existing conditions in this area as well as infographics of relevant existing datasets and notable stories of initiatives that Montclair State University has already completed. Each topic includes a guiding principle that will serve as an enduring touchstone as sustainability goals and actions continue to evolve. Montclair State University’s Academic Facility Sustainability Guiding Principles state that academic facilities strive to:
- Develop and maintain high-quality, resource-efficient campus buildings.
- Preserve planetary and human health by operating efficient buildings.
- Support a unified approach to campus sustainability outreach and education.
- Support low-carbon campus mobility.
- Develop and maintain high-quality, resource-efficient campus landscapes.
- Leverage the purchasing power of the University to accelerate the availability of durable goods on the market.
In addition to the main chapters, the plan document has several appendices which include a glossary, acknowledgments, business case, accountability plan, results of a peer-review, roadmap for making a initial AASHE STARS submission and the results of the two surveys that were sent to facility staff.
According to the Executive Summary, “The Facility Sustainability Plan provides a comprehensive understanding of how University facilities have successfully supported sustainability work to date and how this work will continue into the future. The work also hopes to inspire greater University-wide collaboration on sustainability efforts to achieve a better reputation; a stronger competitive advantage in the recruitment of students, faculty and staff as well as in innovation and research efforts; improve operational efficiency and cost savings; and improve management processes, transparency and accountability.
Questions regarding the Facility Sustainability Plan can be emailed to [email protected]
Learn more about sustainability in university facilities.