posted September 26, 2013

Hope Renews Membership in Higher-Ed Sustainability Association

Hope College has recently renewed its membership in the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education to further campus efforts toward building a healthy and just world.  Through membership in AASHE, Hope will receive continued support in advancing its sustainability initiatives throughout the institution and in the community.

“Sharing a common vision with our sister schools across the country and sharing best practices for sustainability initiatives allows Hope College to remain fully engaged in caring for the natural resources with which we have been entrusted,” said Greg Maybury, who is director of operations and chief sustainability officer at Hope.  “As a campus, we need to model behavior that is consistent with utilizing God’s creation in a thoughtful and respectful manner.  Being part of AASHE allows us to learn from others and apply those concepts to our own community. It helps us realize that we are part of a larger group of colleges that endeavor to provide a safe and healthy planet for future generations.”

AASHE is an association of colleges and universities that enables higher education institutions to meet their sustainability goals by providing specialized resources, professional development, and a network of peer support.  Membership covers every individual at an institution, so the entire campus community can take advantage of member benefits.

“We are delighted to have Hope College on board and participating in the campus sustainability community,” said Paul Rowland, executive director of AASHE. “This shows a real commitment to playing a leadership role in some of the biggest challenges of our time, and provides the campus community with access to thousands of examples of best practices in campus sustainability.”

AASHE hosts the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), a comprehensive campus sustainability rating system that enables institutions to measure their progress and learn from others. With STARS as a roadmap, institutions can select meaningful and appropriate pathways to sustainability while conserving valuable resources, combating global warming, and building healthier communities.  AASHE also offers extensive online resources and discussion forums for professional development and sharing knowledge. 

Sustainability is an ongoing process at Hope that includes not only individual and departmental efforts, but the coordinating work of a Sustainability Advisory Committee (aka “Green Team”) comprised of faculty, administrators and students.  Activities and practices at Hope have ranged from green purchasing policies, increased recycling and trayless dining to reduced food waste; to the creation of academic minors in both environmental science and environmental studies; to campus-wide exploration of environmental themes through events like the Critical Issues Symposium, which focused on water and food in 2009 and 2010 respectively.

“Hope also works with the City of Holland and regional organizations on sustainability and energy related initiatives,” Maybury said.  “In addition, several of the college’s faculty, staff, and students are members of the various environmental groups in the community and actively participate in their events.”