As advisors to the President and the senior leadership team, members of the Sustainability Advisory Council provide input in five primary areas:
- Current and new academic opportunities regarding sustainability learning for Northern students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members
- Current physical campus operations opportunities regarding sustainability
- New physical campus operations opportunities regarding sustainability
- Where and how funding for new sustainability initiatives can be secured
- Assistance to NMU divisions, colleges, departments, offices in being aware of and understanding best practices by higher education institutions regarding sustainability learning and operation
We also work to educate the campus community on sustainability initiatives inside and outside of the classroom.
The council serves in an advisory capacity to the president, the university's sustainability coordinator and the senior leadership team regarding issues and opportunities related to sustainability. The Sustainability Council members are also dealt the task to regularly share information about current sustainability efforts, sustainability initiatives under consideration and rationale associated with decisions made by the university regarding sustainability issues.
Tracking NMU's Sustainability Performance
In 2019-2020, the Sustainability Advisory Council received a silver STARS award from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. STARS stands for the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System and serves as a comprehensive inventory of Northern Michigan University’s sustainability performance. Using STARS, we gathered data in four main areas: Academics & Research, Engagement, Operations and Planning & Administration. From this inventory, we learned that 80% of all academic departments on campus offer sustainability-related courses. This was up from 65% in our first STARS report in 2016-17. We also found that nearly 25% of all tenure or tenure-track faculty members engage in research related to sustainability [can we hyperlink “research” and have it go to the sustainability research tab?]. Here are some additional highlights from our 2020 STARS report:
- 55% of students use sustainable modes of transportation to get to campus.
- 48% of campus grounds are managed in accordance with organic or sustainable landscape management.
- Since baseline year 2010-2011 to 2018-2019, NMU reduced potable water use per unit of floor area by 32% and water use for vegetated grounds by nearly 30%
- Approximately 11.3% of NMU’s total food and beverage expenditures go to disadvantaged businesses, social enterprises, and/or local small or medium enterprises.
- 10.3% of the NMU Dining budget was spent on locally-sourced food
- 65% of construction and demolition materials—approximately 9,141 tons—were diverted from the landfill or incinerator through recycling, donation and/or other forms of recovery.
- 44% of entering students are low-income; NMU met over 64% of need for students awarded need-based aid.
- Since baseline year 2010-2011 to 2018-19, NMU has reduced total source energy consumption per unit of floor area by 13.5%.
Having baseline measurements such as these will us track and improve our sustainability performance into the future.