University 303 Report - 2002: Draft Environmental
Submitted by UNIV 303 Class, Spring 2002
(Discussion in Italics)
Rice University students, faculty, staff, and administration
have a responsibility to assume a leadership role by actively seeking
to protect the environment through administrative actions as well as academic
pursuits in and out of the classroom. As a responsible leader, the Rice
University community will promote and conduct programs that fully implement
the policy outlined below.
- Comply with all applicable laws and regulations.
- Engage in sound reuse and recycling practices and explore feasible
opportunities to minimize the amount and toxicity of waste generated.
Rice is currently involved with recycling and hazardous waste
reduction and disposal efforts. It is the consensus of the class,
however, that areas such as undergraduate laboratories may be in need
of further attention.
- Reduce consumption of fossil fuels and decrease our contribution
to greenhouse gases.
- Reduce total water consumption.
- Minimize environmental impacts of new construction, facilities maintenance,
acquisition of goods and services, and operations.
- Encourage individual responsibility and compliance through employee
training, performance reviews, and other incentive structures.
We realize that the efficacy of this policy relies largely on
the efforts of individuals. Therefore, we envision the policy to have
enforcement mechanisms that recognize the efforts of individuals.
Also, we think it is important that these mechanisms not be punitive,
but rather aligned with current university incentive structures already
in place to encourage compliance with existing performance criteria.
- Foster the expectation that all employees, students, and contractors
on University premises will be stewards of this policy, reporting environmental
concerns and potential areas for improvement to appropriate Rice University
In order to realize these policy objectives, the following
changes will be implemented.
- Expand Decision-Making Criteria. Rice University shall add consideration
of sustainability to the criteria used to evaluate major operational
and budgetary decisions.
Environmental impact (including effects on non-renewable resources,
air quality, and water quality) will be added to the existing criteria,
which include: urgency, financial payback, economic efficiency, contribution
to mission, etc. We believe that the long-term institutionalization
of environmental consciousness and action will be ensured if it is
integrated fully into the university's operational procedures. Also,
we feel that complementing the existing suite of decision-making criteria
with a criterion of environmental impact assessment will incorporate
environmental responsibility in a way that is respectful of individual
authority and discretion.
- Environmental Sustainability Standing Committee
To oversee environmental sustainability efforts at Rice University,
a Sustainability Standing Committee will be established. In addition
to faculty and students, the committee will include representatives
from Facilities & Engineering, Project Management & Planning,
Finance & Administration, and Housing & Dining. The committee
charge includes, but is not limited to:
- Monitor progress via periodic environmental audits and reviews of
purchasing practices; make recommendations for improvement as appropriate.
- Make periodic reports to the President regarding Rice's environmental
- Propose policy modifications as necessary.
Some actions that the University might take in
order to achieve the aforementioned objectives include:
- Reinvest financial savings gained from environmental actions
into other environmental projects. In many instances, environmental
actions lead directly to financial savings. We envision the creation
of an Environmental Fund in which these savings could be accumulated
and then redistributed
- Obtain supplies and resources from environmentally responsible
- Evaluate the potential utility of private sector practices,
such as innovations in green architecture and product life-cycle
assessment. We see this as an important aspect of continuously improving
performance. Perpetually looking inward while simultaneously exploring
the insights discovered outside of the university will do much to
keep Rice on the leading edge of environmental performance and impact
- The Environmental Sustainability Committee should evaluate
the feasibility of naming an Environmental Coordinator to serve
as an information resource for the committee. Such a staff person
could also review environmental considerations in project evaluations
and budget decisions, maintain contact with the departments, and
implement appropriate staff training programs.
Download the full policy