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Why sustainability is important to Lehigh University

Higher education institutions play a key role in building a positive global future.  With 2,358 acres, more than 160 buildings, and nearly 7,000 students, Lehigh recognizes its responsibility to be a model sustainable campus and contribute to the health of our planet as a whole.  Lehigh is committed to integrating sustainability throughout our administrative, academic, and operational processes. As an institution, we strive to create a campus that merges environmentally responsible solutions with equitable community practices.  Through institutional programs and policies that integrate sustainability into work, research, and learning--such as a policy to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions--Lehigh seeks and embraces new solutions that support long-term sustainable change.  In addition to improving sustainability efforts on campus, Lehigh works hard to integrate sustainability education and engagement inside and outside the classroom. Lehigh develops future leaders who will strive to solve pressing global climate challenges for years to come.

Lehigh defines sustainability as the integration of social equity, environmental stewardship and economic prosperity into campus-wide administrative, academic and operational processes. We recognize that we must combine our individual and collective energy to coordinate efforts across campus for the benefit of Lehigh and the community at large.  

Social Equity

Lehigh recognizes it has a responsibility to the university community and to the South Bethlehem community in which we reside. We understand how our decisions and practices affect the the community surrounding us and we work to promote the best interests of our neighbors. We strive to create a vibrant, diverse, and healthy community.

Environmental Stewardship

Lehigh is committed to sustainable environmental practices, promoting interdisciplinary research in sustainable development and green engineering, and reducing our environmental footprint. We strive to reduce the amount of waste we generate, to be smart consumers of water and energy, and to protect and restore the surrounding ecosystem.

Economic Prosperity

Economic sustainability recognizes that there is more than just a single financial bottom line, but rather a triple bottom line. Developing sustainably recognizes that economic development and prosperity must not happen at the expense of our natural environment or our community health.

Office of Sustainability

The Office of Sustainability encourages and facilitates interdisciplinary sustainability efforts of students, faculty, and staff and initiates transformative programs that contribute to a sustainable Lehigh. The Office strives to address issues of sustainability in daily life (recycling, green building, composting), while simultaneously seeking to influence the long-term sustainability of Lehigh University.  Through institutional policies and programs that integrate sustainability into work, research, and learning, the Office works to instill sustainable best practices across the university in an effort to significantly reduce Lehigh’s environmental footprint.