Four foundational goals emerged during the Sustainability Strategic Plan development process that shaped this edition of the plan and will continue to guide Purdue as it grows its sustainability programs. These big picture objectives are fundamental drivers of the campus’s sustainability efforts and provide a valuable framework for cultivating a strategic and integrated approach to campus sustainability.
1. Improve formal collaboration on sustainability issues across operational units and academic disciplines/departments
There is tremendous opportunity to harness Purdue’s academic and research strengths to benefit both on-campus sustainability efforts and the larger sustainability field. Conversely, the university’s operational units can support and facilitate hands-on academic discovery and learning related to sustainability. Purdue will work to formalize the channels for collaboration between the different areas of campus to develop an inclusive and reciprocal sustainability program. In this way Purdue’s program will be responsive to on-campus sustainability issues as well as issues that are relevant at the local, state, national and global scale.
2. Invest in and use resources available on campus
Greater investment in local campus resources is an underlying principle for achieving many of the goals in this plan. Capitalizing on onsite natural resources such as wind, biomass, storm water, rainwater, food waste, and animal waste will reduce the university’s environmental impact and can potentially generate cost savings. This goal also refers to human resources. Investing in staff by supporting continuing education related to sustainability will better equip them to implement effective programs and projects. Purdue must also develop ways to use the intellectual and knowledge resources within its research centers to deliver on campus sustainability projects. Finally, the university must cultivate and support student involvement in sustainability.
3. Promote the living laboratory initiative
The university’s current strategic plan, New Synergies, calls for Purdue to exemplify a "living laboratory" where new ideas and technologies are executed in on-campus projects, with students and faculty studying the outcomes over time. The campus’s growing sustainability program offers unique opportunities to promote the living laboratory initiative. Nurturing collaboration between faculty, students and staff in the spirit of creating a living laboratory will enable the campus community to explore the application of sustainability concepts in the campus environment.
4. Effectively communicate sustainability values and programs
Purdue has implemented numerous forward-looking sustainability projects and programs. Many of these are not readily apparent to the campus community. It is also important to communicate the university’s sustainability commitment and achievements to off campus audiences, including prospective students and the local, state and national communities. Clearer communication of completed projects, opportunities, successes, lessons learned, and the value of sustainability efforts is critical to creating a coherent university message and fostering a sustainability culture on campus. A major strategy to realizing this goal will be using well-known, highly visible benchmarking programs to measure and communicate Purdue’s sustainability performance in relation to its peers.