Campus operations support and enhance the daily lives of the students, faculty, and staff who populate Lehigh’s campus. From the built environment and land stewardship to food service options, waste reduction, water conservation, purchasing decisions, and connections and mobility, Lehigh continues to explore new and innovative ways to operate. By building a resilient campus community for the 21st century, Lehigh embraces operational efficiencies, saving money and increasing the overall well-being of the university and community as a whole.
Lehigh recognizes the role that eliminating, reducing, reusing, and recycling serves in decreasing the consumption of virgin resources and enhancing the sustainability of campus operations and maintenance. As part of the Sustainability Strategic Plan 2030, Lehigh is pursuing strategies to achieve a zero-waste campus by 2030. Interim goals to reach that point include making all on-campus first-year orientation activities zero waste by 2025, and establishing a standard to eliminate single-use plastic materials in Lehigh Dining and Catering, retail, events, and meetings by 2023. Learn more.
Lehigh recognizes the potential for positive sustainable impacts in nearly every purchasing decision. The Lehigh Sustainable Purchasing Policy will soon include actionable category-level sustainability criteria to enhance searching and compliance analysis. Additional sustainability business requirements are being integrated into the majority of request for proposal (RFP) processes by 2022, and by 2025 projects under $1M will include contract clauses addressing sustainability. Learn more. Additionally, Purchasing Services is committed to environmental stewardship by maintaining purchasing practices that promote and encourage the use and purchase of environmentally and socially responsible products.
Connections & Mobility
From buses and ridesharing and rental cars, Lehigh offers services that students, faculty, and staff can use and a system that they can rely on to get to events, classes, etc. An electric bicycle hub on Asa Packer Campus and transitioning Transportation & Parking Services, LU Facilities, Housing Services, and Athletics from cars and vans to electric golf carts by 2023 and LUPD and Lehigh Dining by 2025 are part of ongoing changes to integrate sustainability into campus transportation. Expanding telecommuting opportunities for employees as a standard practice by 2021 will contribute to the reduction of commuting emissions. Learn more.
Lehigh’s building and land use philosophy incorporates our legacy and historical character, while also taking into account connectivity and environmental stewardship. Lehigh has established standards that require all new and existing campus construction be built to USGBC LEED Silver (or equivalent) standards or higher. As we seek to meet and exceed those goals, the Lehigh continues to develop and implement standards to guide best design practices and provide metrics. Assessing success for constructing and operating buildings in a sustainable and energy efficient manner will assist LU Facilities in meeting sustainability-related goals, standards, and commitments. Additionally, Real Estate Services incorporates sustainability practices into rental properties through energy audits, energy usage tracking, and using energy efficient appliances in renovations.
Lehigh’s surplus property program, known as Asa’s Attic, promotes the reuse of equipment and furnishings across all three campuses, mitigating waste by making better use of existing resources. Planning is underway to move Asa’s Attic to a larger space that will offer campus and public hours for browsing office supplies available for reuse. Learn more.
Responsible stewardship of Lehigh’s maintained and natural landscapes incorporates sound environmental practices and cost efficiency. These initiatives include the development and implementation of an Integrated Pest Management plan and a sustainability framework to guide real estate decision-making. Transitioning some lawn areas on the Mountaintop Campus to native meadow landscapes will serve as a pilot for applying this method to future campus locations.
From promoting water conservation on a personal level among members of the campus community to aligning water use and management practices with municipal, regional and state priorities, Lehigh seeks sustainable solutions for immediate and future water-use and management challenges by assessing the need for, and installing, more water efficient fixtures. Using a FY 2019 baseline, Lehigh will reduce university-wide water usage, including process, irrigation and potable water use, by 10% by 2025. Lehigh’s Stormwater Management Plan (SMP) will identify green infrastructure and low-impact development (LID) projects and will provide guidelines for the design team to help mitigate stormwater runoff impacts and treat rainwater as a resource rather than as a waste product.