Sustainability Council

Carbon neutrality by 2050 may seem like a lofty goal. Faculty, staff, and students formed the Sustainability Council when USU joined the President's Climate Commitment in 2007 to ensure present and future Aggies have the means to thrive. The vision is to infuse environmental, social, and economic sustainability throughout USU’s academic and operational endeavors. Programs and collaborations include the Sustainability Corps, Green Office Program, Energy Wars, active transportation, Planetary Thinking in the Curriculum, Open Streets Festival, and Earth Day. The Council also coordinates with the Student Sustainability Office, which implements Student Sustainability Grants, USU Farmers Market, True Blue Reuse, and other programs. USU is also a contributing member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

tree in lobby


Air Quality & Transportation

Mission

Our Mission is to explore ways to improve air quality in Cache Valley and reduce overall emissions from Utah State University.

This work group includes faculty, staff, students, and community members. USU's sustainability programs support improve air quality in Cache Valley and throughout the state. Some efforts USU has taken to improve air quality include:

  • Adopting an idle free policy 525.4 in 2012.
  • Introducing a carbon offset fund available for voluntary contribution from people qualifying for travel reimbursements from the university. The fund has supported an electronic fuel injection mower, Clear the Air Carbon Offset Grants, and Zimride rideshare service.
  • Collaborating with Weber State and Utah Clean Energy to promote electric vehicle use through the Drive Electric Northern Utah program. In anticipation of increased demand for EV support infrastructure in northern Utah, USU is adding new charging stations as opportunities arise.
  • Applying for and receiving grants from UCAIR for two electric vehicles, an electric vehicle charging station, and a bike share program in collaboration with the City of Logan.

Work Group

Team Member Position
Avery Cronyn Aggie Blue Bike & Transportation Demand Management Coordinator
Lorien Belton  Community-Based Conservation Program Coor.
Mike Dixon  Asst. Professor of Management
Jack Greene  Community member
Alexi Lamm  Sustainability Program Manager
Patrick Singleton  CEE Faculty

Academics

Mission

Support the development of a sustainable university by promoting environmental literacy and enabling the university community to ground decisions in sustainability principles. The Curriculum Work Group develops methods to educate the campus and move Utah State towards sustainability by facilitating faculty and students in the development of intellectual tools and practical skills to become caring and competent stewards of the planet, its people, and resources.

Efforts USU has taken to incorporate sustainability into the curriculum:

  • We are now collecting faculty sustainability resources. If you are willing to guest lecture, mentor, submit successful student projects, or submit ideas for student projects, let us know.
  • Destinations: Planetary Thinking in the Curriculum helps 16-18 faculty participants incorporate sustainability into their courses per year.

Academic Work Group

Team Member Position
Hillary Swanson Chair, Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences
Dave Anderson Associate professor of Professional Practice of Landscape Architecture
Alexi Lamm  Sustainability Program Manager

Planetary Thinking Work Group

Team Member Position
John Ferguson  Senior Lecturer of Management
Jennifer Givens  Assistant Professor of Sociology
Mark Koven  Associate Professor of ASTE
Alexi Lamm  Sustainability Program Manager
Shannon Peterson  IOGP Director of Global Programs

Energy & Built Environment

The Mission

Create, maintain, and operate an environmentally responsible campus built environment that will minimize energy and water consumption, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and promote the development and use of renewable energy sources

Some efforts USU has taken to improve the built environment include:

Work Group

Team Member Position
Zac Cook Energy Manager
Jordy Guth Architect and Planner
Glynn Hadley Engineer
Jamie Hart Water Quality Engineer
Mark Holt Electrical Engineer
Jim Huppi Landscape Architect
Alexi Lamm Sustainability Program Manager
Lorin Mortensen Mechanical Engineer
Reid Olsen Central Energy Plant, Utilities & HVAC Manager 

Engagement

Mission

Facilitate active participation in sustainability for students, faculty, and staff

The Engagement Work Group is committed to increasing involvement: We support the grassroots effort of students, faculty, and staff who want to promote sustainability at USU. Our goal is to organize programs and events to tap into the energy, talent and intellect of the university community to expand the vision of sustainability,and develop a culture of sustainability at USU.

Current Projects

  • Connections Day at the Dam
  • Energy Wars
  • Recyclemania
  • Annual Sustainability Awards

Work Group

Team Member Position
Kate Stephens Associate Department Director / Community-Engaged Learning Director
Alan Andersen Executive Director for Dining Services
Dave Anderson Professional Practice Associate Professor
Avery Cronyn Aggie Blue Bikes & Transportation Demand Management Coordinator
Jack Greene Volunteer
Alexi Lamm Sustainability Program Manager
Rodney Marchant Lecturer English
Justin Peterson South Campus Residence Director 

Other Areas of Focus

Utah State University is committed to creating a sustainable atmosphere for all students, faculty, staff, and community members. Although the following groups are not currently active on campus, they remain an important aspect of sustainability.

Greenhouse Gas Reduction Committee

USU became a signatory to the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment in 2007, setting the goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. By 2017, Utah State's greenhouse gas emissions had fallen by about 20% per full time equivalent student and 30% per square foot. The university is growing, however, so overall emissions still hovered around 100,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e).

Find out more about our Greenhouse Gas Reduction Committee!

Food Work Group

Mission: Promote a local, seasonal, healthy, and organic closed loop food system for the USU community.

USU uses trayless dining, which reduces waste, and catering uses compostable plates. The Sustainability Council food work group 
is currently working on options for local food sourcing and pilot composting projects. Learn about sustainability in Dining Services.

This group is inactive.

Research Group

The USU Research Sustainability Committee is charged with developing an action plan to harness the research capabilities of USU to provide research needed to enable Utah and the Intermountain West to move toward climate neutrality and sustainability. To address this responsibility, the Research Sustainability Committee seeks to identify, promote, and recognize climate neutrality- and sustainability-related research activities and opportunities at Utah State University. This information will allow the committee to determine USU’s unique research contributions toward climate neutrality and sustainability, and develop policy recommendations to enhance USU leadership in this area.

More information is available in USU's Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System report.

Water Work Group

More than half of the earth's renewable water resources are already being used by humans. In the US, half of our population depends on rivers and lakes for drinking water. Limited water availability might ultimately put a cap on the earth's carrying capacity for humans.

Sustainable water use has the following characteristics:

  • Conserving water resources.
  • Implementing non-polluting practices to protect water resources.

Completed Sustainability Water Projects at USU:

  • The elimination of the use of culinary water as a heat sink for refrigeration systems.
  • The installation of low water consumption devices in new buildings and those being renovated.
  • Movement away from culinary water as an irrigation source.
  • Separation of turf and shrub beds to separate watering zones.
  • Installation of water smart irrigation systems such as the Rain Bird Maxicom® to irrigate landscapes according to evapotranspiration rates.

Water Conservation Goals:

  • Perform irrigation water audits across campus and sister campuses to increase irrigation efficiency.
  • Irrigate landscapes with secondary water sources wherever possible.
  • Help develop signage on campus demonstrating water savings, labor savings, and highlighting USU student efforts when applicable.
  • Create an interactive map identifying areas on campus saving water (buildings, landscapes, etc.) on the USU Sustainability website.
  • Discourage the use of plastic water bottles across campus by providing students with reusable water bottles or mugs in partnership with the Outreach committee.
  • Increase low water use landscaping across campus and sister campuses.
  • Encourage and help fund the installation of water meters in buildings and structures without meters.
  • Encourage sustainable building designs to implement water savings (composting toilets, etc.) or quality (grey water) techniques.

Water Quality Goals:

  • Encourage the USU College of Agriculture to adopt best management practices outlined by the Utah Division of Water Quality.
  • Increase the use of organic fertilizers on campus.
  • Expand the mission of off-campus agricultural facilities to include non-point source pollution education.
  • Protect groundwater and storm runoff by minimizing the use of salt for ice-melting and by implementing an automotive oil recycling program for on-campus students.
  • Reduce impervious surfaces or increase the use of permeable pavers or pervious concrete.
  • Encourage sustainable building designs to implement water savings (composting toilets, etc.) and improve water quality (grey water) techniques.

Wellness Work Group

For an institution like Utah State University to sustain itself, it must be concerned with the health and wellness of it's students, faculty and staff. The USU Wellness program was established in 2007, and contributes to reducing USU's carbon footprint through outreach efforts promoting local organic food and water, less meat consumption, and walking and biking to enhance health and reduce harmful emissions. 

What is Wellness?

Wellness is a positive approach to living - an approach that emphasizes the whole person. It is a dynamic state of health in which an 
individual moves towards a higher level of functioning by balancing internal and external environments. Wellness encompasses the belief that everything you do, think, feel and believe has an impact on your state of health, and the health of your environment.

Diversity

In order to build a sustainable society, diverse groups will need to be able to come together and work collaboratively to address sustainability challenges. People of color and low-income communities tend to suffer disproportionate exposure to environmental problems. This environmental injustice happens as a result of unequal and segregated communities.To achieve environmental and social justice, society must work to address discrimination and promote equality. The historical legacy and persistence of discrimination based on racial, gender, religious, and other differences makes a proactive approach to promoting a culture of inclusiveness an important component of creating an equitable society. Higher education opens doors to opportunities that can help create a more equitable world. In addition, a diverse student body, faculty, and staff provide rich resources for learning and collaboration.

USU Inclusion Center

The mission of the Access and Diversity Center is to promote access and full involvement in all aspects of student life at Utah State University. This center serves as a catalyst for the creation of a campus and community environment where all people are free to affirm and celebrate their differences, including but not limited to differences of race, sex, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, class, age, ability and parental or veteran status.

Facilities

The natural resources that are available to the University are extremely important.  The stewardship entrusted to the campus by the State obligates the University to operate and maintain our systems in the most effective manner possible.The work to protect and conserve our natural resources is never ending. New technology enables innovation and different processes.  The campus needs to stay alert to these opportunities and invest in them. The Facilities organization remains committed to this vigilance and will work consistently to achieve results.   

USU's Sustainable Buildings
USU Facilities

Facilities serves Utah State University by providing an environment for education, innovative learning, and its application in the worldwide community.