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Sustaining a Green Campus

University Facilities Division creates plan for an even greener future for the University

Posted in: Homepage News, University

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The Division of University Facilities at Montclair State has launched its Facilities Sustainability Plan, which aims to improve the division’s environmental sustainability performance into the future.

The plan is the result of a project that assessed the current state of operations, compared performance against peer and sister institutions and set realistic sustainability goals.

In January 2020, University Facilities contracted with Brightworks Sustainability in collaboration with Ayers Saint Gross to develop the plan. The project  began with an assessment and analysis and was largely dependent on collecting and analyzing the division’s existing data sets and practices through the beginning of the pandemic. When the data collection was complete, an assessment report was presented to the steering committee and the project was put on hold in June 2020 while Facilities helped guide the University through the pandemic.

The project restarted during summer 2021, with the re-establishment of priorities and engaging stakeholders through a series of remote and hybrid focus groups during the summer and fall. In these sessions, University Facilities employees as well as a number of campus participants defined why work in their respective topic areas – green building infrastructure, engagement, procurement, transportation and parking, and grounds and landscaping –  should set sustainability goals. Common themes emerged including shared interest in:

  • Empowering collective action.
  • Supporting human health and well-being.
  • Preserving natural resources.
  • Demonstrating leadership as an anchor institution.
  • Responsibly stewarding University resources.

These focus groups developed goals, metrics and actions that will support the next phase of sustainability work at Montclair while driving toward the institution’s initial submission to the  Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System aka AASHE STARS.

In addition to focus groups, two surveys were distributed to approximately 300 University Facilities staff. The first assessed the staff’s awareness and opinions about sustainability in general and also about specific initiatives and activities on campus. The second provided an opportunity for them to learn about the goals being set forth and to rate specific action items according to how difficult they believe it would be to accomplish.

After the focus groups and surveys, the plan was developed and finalized on April 8, 2022.

The Plan

The Facilities Sustainability Plan is organized into six chapters, each of which aligns to a set of departments within University Facilities that is accountable to achieving progress in specific sustainability goals. While some of the action items identified through engagement are unique to University Facilities, others will require collaboration across campus.

Each chapter of the Facilities Sustainability Plan includes a description of the existing conditions within that topic area as well as infographics of relevant existing data sets and noteworthy stories of initiatives Montclair State University has already completed. Each topic area includes a guiding principle that will serve as an enduring touchstone as the sustainability goals and actions continue to evolve. The guiding sustainability principles for University Facilities at Montclair State University state that University Facilities strives to:

  • Develop and maintain high-quality, resource efficient campus buildings.
  • Preserve planetary and human health by operating high-performance buildings.
  • Support a unified approach to campus sustainability outreach and education.
  • Support low-carbon campus mobility.
  • Develop and maintain high-quality, resource-efficient campus landscapes.
  • Leverage the University’s purchasing power to accelerate the availability of sustainable goods in the marketplace.

In addition to the main chapters, the plan document has several appendices which include a glossary, acknowledgements, the business case, a plan for accountability, the results of a peer benchmarking study, a roadmap for making an initial AASHE STARS submission, and the results from both of the surveys that were sent to Facilities staff.

According to the executive summary, “The Facilities Sustainability Plan offers a comprehensive understanding of how University Facilities has successfully supported sustainability work to date and how that work will continue into the future. The work also hopes to inspire greater University-wide collaboration on sustainability efforts to realize an enhanced reputation; stronger competitive advantage in student, faculty and staff recruitment as well as innovation and research endeavors; improve efficiency and operational cost savings; and improve  management processes, transparency and accountability.”

Questions about the Facilities Sustainability Plan can be emailed to

Learn more about Sustainability in University Facilities.