University of Arkansas Sustainability Plan

In 2014 the Office for Sustainability worked with the Sustainability Council to revise and update the University of Arkansas Sustainability Plan. The revised plan is based on a continuous improvement process that includes 1) defining goals, key performance indicators (KPIs), and their metrics; 2) benchmarking and measuring KPIs; and 3) implementing strategies to improve KPIs over time. This approach advances the science of sustainability through testing of improvement strategies followed by data analysis and reporting. The KPIs drive strategies for innovation; the metrics are their measurable characteristics. We select metrics for the KPIs based on the following four criteria:

model for continuous improvement
  1. Science Based
  2. Outcomes Driven
  3. Technology Neutral
  4. Transparent

This approach ensures that outcomes-based performance, rather than ideology, drives decisions on sustainability strategies at the University of Arkansas.

Sustainability Vision

Our vision is that the University of Arkansas will implement education, research, outreach, and demonstration strategies and practices that meet the needs of the present while enhancing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This vision will be achieved through the iterative process of setting and achieving goals.

Aspirational Goals

Aspirational goals are long-term goals that frame programmatic decisions in very simple terms to clearly define expected outcomes. The U of A Sustainability Plan includes the following four Aspirational Goals:

  1. The University of Arkansas will become a global leader in sustainability education by developing a comprehensive School for Sustainability that will administer a BS in sustainability, an undergraduate minor in sustainability, graduate programs (MS and PhD) in sustainability, and graduate certificates in sustainability.
  2. The University of Arkansas will become a global leader in sustainable facilities by transforming the U of A campus to a living-learning laboratory for sustainability technologies and practices.
  3. The University of Arkansas will continue its global leadership in sustainability research and innovation through collaborative discovery in technology, business, and informatics that drive sustainable transformation of the global economy.
  4. The University of Arkansas will continue to expand its global impact through sustainability partnerships across each program area with industries, communities, and universities across Arkansas, the US, and the world.

Strategic Goals

Strategic goals are measurable elements of aspirational goals, with time frames for achieving benchmarks. The U of A Sustainability Plan focuses on two strategic goals:

    1. The U of A will be carbon neutral by 2040, with intermediate benchmarks, and
    2. The U of A will be a zero waste campus by 2021.

These strategic goals provide a focus for activities for the Sustainability Council workgroups and OFS interns.

Measuring and Reporting Results

recycled plastic bottlesMeasuring performance for each strategic goal requires benchmarking the metrics, developing reduction goals, and developing implementation strategies to meet those goals. Implementation is achieved through collaboration with programs and units across the U of A community. The OFS implements these strategies through coordinated projects with interns, capstone projects from students in the sustainability minor and Honors College, and graduate student research. This process creates the opportunity for student-led innovation, and integrates activities across the Aspirational Goals.

Results of the performance for each KPI are reported annually to the UASC through OFS Technical Reports and to the U of A campus at large through this Annual Report. In addition, GHG reduction metrics are reported to the ACUPCC every two years, and elements of both GHG and solid waste reduction goals are reported to AASHE through the STARS program each year. Where appropriate, the methods and results of sustainability strategies are documented through publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals.