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Sustainability Defined

The concepts of sustainability and sustainable development have been defined in many ways, but the most common definition comes from the Brundtland Report:"Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

A focus on sustainability is a recognition that environmental degradation and climate change impact the quality of life for humans and that we must have creative and systemic shifts in the way we think about our demand for, and use of, finite resources. Equally important, we must consider how the distribution of these resources impacts the ability of society to meet their basic needs.

Sustainability at Lehigh

Lehigh University 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 University and the community at large. In a commitment to sustainability, Lehigh's Campus Sustainaility Plan 2020 lays out specific measurable goals in four sections: Academics & Educational Experience, Campus & Community Engagement, Operations, and Planning & Administration. Learn more about sustainability at Lehigh. 

Social Equity: Lehigh University 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 University is committed to sustainable environmental practices, promoting 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 was created to centralize sustainability initiatives and reduce Lehigh's environmental footprint. The Office of Sustainability encourages and facilitates sustainability efforts of students, faculty, and staff and initiates programs that contribute to a sustainable Lehigh. Learn more about the office. 

Reports & Awards

Lehigh University's commitment to sustainability has resulted in a variety of institutional memberships, awards, and news coverage. Learn more about Lehigh's reports and awards.