Sustainability is a holistic and collaborative, people-driven process, defined by environmental and social justice, that centers Mason’s institutional needs in an innovative and evolutionary response to the most pressing challenges of our time.
Our operational definition of sustainability is a comprehensive guide for everything we do in University Sustainability. It explains what type of work we do. It describes how we approach our work. And it affirms why we do the work.
Our commitments and reporting processes (STARS and Carbon Commitment) help the university get a picture of where we are today, or what our “here” is. Our vision for Mason is a broad one--climate neutrality by 2050 and being a university for the world. Everyone at Mason can contribute to this Vision – what are your ideas?
- Mason is carbon-neutral, employing all possible renewable energy sources before purchasing offsets
- Has an active Sustainability Fund to fund facility improvement projects and a Sustainability Institute to promote multi-disciplinary, innovative sustainability-related research
- All new buildings are constructed with low-impact development standards and innovative practices using whole-systems thinking
- All old buildings are reused and renovated to the highest standards of efficiency and livability in mind
- Open space is managed in a sustainable manner and promotes outdoor learning experiences
- All students participate in experiential and service learning hours that promote sustainability on campus in order to graduate
- All students are exposed to sustainability principles in their coursework and encouraged to create solutions to pressing global problems such as climate change
- Mason's campuses are walkable and bikable not only on campus but getting to and from campus with numerous alternative transportation options available
- Healthy, organic, third-party verified, and local food options are available to all on-campus diners
- Mason diverts a majority of our total waste by weight
- All employees of the university are treated with respect and paid a living wage appropriate for the surrounding area
How will we meet all of our public commitments and move toward sustainability? In other words, how do we get from “here” to “there”? University Sustainability leverages a variety of public commitments and reporting mechanisms (Carbon Commitment, STARS, Mason 2014-2024 Strategic Plan) to develop annual and long-term strategies for meeting our climate and sustainability goals.
Our major objectives for the next few years are to focus on climate emission reduction projects and outreach and awareness-building needed to empower the Mason community to make personal and organizational changes that move our culture toward one of stewardship. If you're interested in helping us out, please get involved!