Building on a tradition of innovative thinking, Lehigh aims to position itself as a local and global leader and collaborative in sustainability and a model sustainable campus in higher education. As an institution, we recognize problems as opportunities to create valuable solutions. From external partnerships and financial decisions to sustainability commitments and reporting accountability, Lehigh demonstrates leadership in seeking and embracing new solutions that support long-term sustainable change.
Acknowledging our role and responsibility as part of the greater community surrounding our campus, Lehigh will establish a program to support faculty, staff, and student projects that advance sustainability goals in collaboration with the City of Bethlehem and other local groups. To help achieve our sustainability objectives, the University is building stronger relationships with the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission and the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation, and will become an institutional member of the Fair Labor Association.
Commitments & Accountability
Lehigh demonstrates a commitment to achieving and modeling excellence by constantly measuring our progress against internal and external standards, including AASHE STARS and the Sierra Club’s Cool Schools List. Echoing the University’s commitment to diversity as detailed in The Principles of an Equitable Community, Lehigh will establish and incorporate Principles of a Sustainable Campus Community into the bLUprint program, new staff and faculty orientation, senior administration position descriptions, job searches, and interviews.
The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) is a self-reporting tracking and rating system for sustainability performance at colleges and universities. Colleges and universities reporting to STARS can earn credits and points to achieve a bronze, silver, gold, or platinum rating by demonstrating efforts in sustainability in four major categories: Academics, Engagement, Operations, and Planning & Administration. Lehigh submitted its sixth report to STARS in February 2020, and received a silver rating. Learn more.
While Lehigh is proud of its silver rating, we continue to reach higher. Through the steady pursuit of improved sustainability in the five areas measured by AASHE, we expect to earn a STARS gold ranking by 2022, and by 2030, Lehigh aims to achieve AASHE STARS platinum.
Responsible financial decisions that reflect our core values are integral to Lehigh’s commitment to supporting long-term, sustainable change. To advance the University’s role as a leader in sustainability, Lehigh will conduct an annual assessment to identify and address compensation strategies in order to stay competitive and will work with retirement investment firms to offer environmental social governance (ESG) investment options for Lehigh faculty and staff for their 401k and 403b investments. Working with Development and Alumni Relations to develop donor support, the University is re-envisioning Lehigh’s Green Revolving Fund with a revised framework and an advisory committee.
Strengthening the bonds between Lehigh alumni, current students, and faculty creates opportunities for students to observe sustainability in real-life applications and for alumni to tap into innovations arising from the diverse pool of thought at the University. Lehigh cultivates ongoing dialogues with alumni about our sustainability challenges and successes, with the goal of building and enhancing alumni support and engagement in the University’s sustainability initiatives. A pilot of an early career mentorship program will connect current students interested in sustainability with alums in the sustainability field.