The Pacific Index

Pacific sets higher sustainability standards

Sydney Virgen

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There exists a misconception around campus that Pacific University is going to be completely fossil fuel free by 2020.

According to the Director of the Center for a Sustainable Society Michelle Larkins, colleges and universities who are fully fossil fuel free normally buy renewable energy credits in order to achieve such status.

“Our most important contribution to a sustainable footprint is to reduce our own consumption of fossil fuels, and reduce our own emissions,” Pacific President Lesley Hallick said. “Rather than what I view as a potentially misleading claim of paying someone else to do so, and then taking credit for that reduction.”

According to the Pacific University 2020 Strategic Plan, Pacific will strive for and works towards creating a greener, more environmentally friendly, campus by 2020.

“We have chosen to first achieve real reductions by improving and reducing our own emissions practices on the Forest Grove campus,” Larkins said.

One of the main goals embedded within the 2020 Strategic Plan is to raise Pacific’s score on the Sustainably Tools for Assessing and Rating System (STARS), from bronze to gold.

“A gold standing indicates a higher score on the STARS campus audit,” Larkins said. “Which analyzes Pacific’s curriculum, faculty research, food and dining practices, energy consumption, recycling and compost programs, purchasing and other categories.”

According to Larkins, the last STARS submission made by Pacific was in 2011.

Plans and initiatives to help boost Pacific’s standing with STARS have already been implemented around different campuses. Larkins said the sustainability requirement for students, introduced in the new core curriculum for the College of Arts and Sciences, will positively impact Pacific’s STARS score.

Additionally, a hyperlocal standard with food service providers has been started, allowing Pacific to set up a purchasing preference with Washington County growers. Dishware on the Forest Grove campus is also going to transition to be all bamboo in the future, according to Larkins.

Larkins said more changes and updates will be coming after results and data are collected from the most recent waste audit, which was performed in March 2018. The data will provide Pacific with a framework on ways in which to reduce landfill waste and other forms of output.

The Center for a Sustainable Society plans to resubmit to STARS every two academic years.

The STARS program does have a Platinum level but, according to Larkins, the soonest Pacific could reach this level is 2022.

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Pacific sets higher sustainability standards