Sustainability Master Plan Update, part deux

By Melanie Stewart

In last week’s article I promised to provide updates in each of the goal areas of the Sustainability Master Plan.  We’ve already discussed the changes to a few baselines and the incredible achievements in the energy, water, and emission goals here.

One goal you may not have heard much about is Campus Engagement.  Campus Engagement is a rated score of how much the campus population knows about and is involved in sustainability efforts on campus.  We determine this score via survey results, plus interaction and participation at events.  Our baseline score was 45, the goal is 75, and our newly updated score is 52.  While I’m pleased with the increase in score, I look forward to the campus at large learning more about sustainability on campus and how it directly ties to UNMC/Nebraska Medicine and the work that we do.

The Campus Planning goal is to maintain the baseline campus density of 73,327 square feet per developed acre.  Makes perfect sense, right?  I didn’t think so.  In a nutshell, this goal encompasses the entire campus footprint: building up instead of sprawling out, planning and maintaining quality greenspace, designing avenues for safe, active transportation on campus, and incorporating high-quality public spaces to encourage interaction and support healing.  Deconstruction processes when buildings are replaced involve recycling used materials instead of sending them to the landfill. These efforts encourage interaction and support healing, making this a better place to work, go to school, and receive care.  We have moved away from this goal, but this is largely due in part to the current amount of construction taking place on campus.

The Food Services goal is ambitious: to remove 90% of the materials, by weight, from the waste stream.  Currently cafeteria/food prep staff is recycling behind the scenes; large tin cans, oversized bottles, and consumer materials are recycled if possible.  Styrofoam will be phased out as a part of this goal.  The students helped to kick this off by passing a Styrofoam-free resolution and Sodexo has already started the transition by replacing cups and soup bowls with paper versions.  Multiple options are being considered for clam shells and other items, helping to meet this goal but still maintaining safe food temperature and infection control standards while allowing food to be transported.

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