By: Bill Brown, Director
If you have an IU email address you already have access to the university’s membership in the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. All you need to do to access “member-only” resources regarding campus sustainability is go to their web site and sign up. AASHE was officially launched in January 2006, serving as the first professional higher education association for the campus sustainability community. Nearly 900 higher education institutions are members of AASHE.
My first encounter with AASHE was at their 2008 conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, that sold out two weeks before the event, with over 1700 attendees. I have attended every conference since then and I should disclose that I now serve on their board of directors.
AASHE’s web site will connect you to your peers through topical forums, journals, blogs and member directories. These are all searchable, so you could quickly find all information on bike sharing or electronic waste programs or curriculum development. One of the most popular publications is the annual Higher Education Sustainability Review, which organizes all campus sustainability news articles from the previous year. As a member, you can sign up for discussion lists and e-newsletters.
Resources for education & research include campus case studies on curriculum development, course listings and syllabi, sustainability focused degree and study abroad programs. Sustainability research case studies and inventories, campus centers and institutes of sustainability and surveys of sustainability awareness, attitudes, and values can also be found on the web site, along with related forums and AASHE conference presentations. Resources for sustainability in co-curricular education and student organizing can also be found including specific guides for campus gardens, peer-to-peer education programs, alumni sustainability networks, and student leadership organizations.
Campus operations resources are organized by sections include buildings, climate, dining services, energy, grounds, purchasing, transportation, waste and water. The buildings section includes a collection of the actual policies related to campus green buildings from campuses across the country. Links to 24 climate action plans are included in the climate section and you can also explore the Climate Action Wiki. If you want to see examples of campus fair trade practices and policies at 70 universities or see all of the sustainable dining practices of the universities served by Sodexo, this is the place. Go here to find green cleaning and green purchasing policies, campus bicycle plans, campus building energy dashboards, campus energy plans, composting programs, surplus property programs, campus water conservation policies, sustainable grounds management programs, and just about any other type of operations policy or program you can imagine.
In planning, administration and engagement you will find assessment tools and reports, policies, engagement strategies, human resources policies and financing and investment strategies. One assessment tool invented by AASHE is the Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System or STARS that is now used by over 400 institutions, including Indiana University.
Resources for student sustainability organizations are also abundant and organized in much the same way as the general resources, but with an added focus on starting and energizing student-focused sustainability organizations.
Take advantage of your AASHE membership status. You don’t have to start from scratch. No matter what your idea, chances are very good someone at another institution has already tried it and succeeded and it is also very likely you will find their best practices on the AASHE web site.