Willamette University defines itself by its service to the local and global community. From its inception as an educational institute on the frontier in 1842, to its present role as one of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges, the students, faculty, and staff have “walked the talk” of the school’s motto, “Not unto ourselves alone are we born.” Over the past several years, students, faculty, and staff have had an ongoing and constructive conversation regarding ecological and social sustainability, and significant steps towards sustainability have already been taken. As we move into the future, ecological and social sustainability are a focal point for re-conceiving not only our educational mission but also our service to and responsibility to our city, state, and world. We hope the following indicators report will provide a starting point to engage the Willamette community and evaluate our progress toward living the values we espouse.
What is an indicators report?
According to the organization Sustainable Measures:
An indicator is something that helps you understand where you are, which way you are going and how far you are from where you want to be.
This report presents a collection of discrete pieces of information selected by the Willamette community and calculated by the Sustainability Council that characterize our community and its structure and impact during one year. Our aim in tracking these values over time is to help us discern whether we are moving closer to becoming a model of what it means to live and work sustainably. As this is the fourth annual Indicators Report, four- year data and trends will be reported wherever possible.
How were the original indicators selected?
In August 2005, a group of approximately forty Willamette students, staff, faculty and administrators met for the inaugural Sustainability Retreat. The goal of this meeting was to begin constructing a vision of sustainability that meshes with Willamette’s distinctive culture. Participants produced a set of discussion papers that articulated some basic principles of sustainability.
Building on this vision, participants at the second Sustainability Retreat (August 2006) developed an institutional assessment process fitted to Willamette’s unique circumstances. This group identified a set of over 150 potential indicators3, from which the Sustainability Council later selected twenty to be measured and reported on each year:
1. Sustainability policies and procedures, 2. Carbon footprint, 3. Electricity consumption, 4. Heat energy consumption, 5. Parking area, 6. Water consumption, 7. Percent local food, 8. Percent sustainably produced/harvested food, 9. Printer/copier paper consumption, 10. Waste paper consumption, 11. Total solid waste, 12. Recycling rate, 13. Hazardous cleaning chemicals, 14. Hazardous cleaning grounds chemicals, 15. Workplace injuries, 16. Hazardous materials spills, 17. Employee wage distribution, 18. Diversity, 19. Courses with sustainability theme or component, 20. Willamette faculty presentations, papers and research on sustainability
Indicators 19 and 20 were not measured for the first four reports, but will be measured in future reports.
Why choose these indicators?
Willamette University’s sustainability initiative as outlined by President Lee Pelton incorporates the “four Es” of sustainability: Equity, Environment, Economics, and Education. It is important to note that Willamette is not satisfied to conceive of “sustainability” as merely an ecological or economic concept.
Without marginalizing the significance of achieving ecological and economic sustainability, the Willamette community is dedicated to advancing a more just society, both now and for future generations.
Of these four areas, the economic health of the university is most carefully and consistently tracked by other instruments. In particular, through the budget/expenditure reporting cycle. As such, this report focuses on the “three E’s” of equity, environment, and education. We offer a more detailed justification and explanation for each indicator in their individual sections.
|Year||Full Time Student||Part Time Student||Full time Faculty||Part Time Faculty||Staff||Total|
The square footage of all campus buildings used for relevant calculations is 1,460,932 sq. ft.
On the limitations of this report
First, in order to keep the report to an accessible length, we have consciously chosen to focus on university-wide aggregate indicators. Thus, for example, we do not present information about how and where printer/copier paper is being used, but we do present the total amount used over the course of the year.
Secondly, although Willamette has a second, smaller campus for the Atkinson School of Management’s MBA program in Portland, many indicators (all the utilities indicators, for example) focus only on the Salem campus.
Please note that no indicators report can be completely comprehensive. It is not possible to fully characterize the structure and impact of our community, regardless of how many indicators we choose. Rather than attempt a more comprehensive characterization, we have carefully and thoughtfully selected those indicators that we believe will be most indicative of our current state and our progress towards sustainability with respect to the “three E’s.”
We recognize that, due to its limitations, this report may raise more questions than it answers. However, that is indeed, part of its aim. Our primary goal with the report is to prompt questions, reflection, and ultimately action, on what it means to be a sustainable community and our progress toward this goal.
In order to improve readability of the Indicators Report, starting with the 2010-2011 report, some of the indicators will be lumped together. The new list of indicators are the following:
- Sustainability policies and procedures
- Carbon footprint
- Utilities (Electricity, Natural Gas, Water)
- Compacted waste and waste paper
- Parking area
- Percent local and sustainably produced/harvested food
- Printer/copier paper consumption
- Recycling rate
- Hazardous cleaning and grounds chemicals
- Workplace injuries and Hazardous materials spills
- Employee wage distribution