2030 Sustainability Goals banner

Due to COVID-19 and the university’s focus on responding to the pandemic and keeping faculty, staff, and students safe, the Office of Sustainability did not release 2030 sustainability goals as planned during Earth Week. More information and the 2030 sustainability goals will be released once key parties from across campus have had the chance to reconvene and focus on their creation and approval.


Draft Framework Proposal

This draft proposal is designed to enhance development of the University of Iowa’s new set of 2030 Sustainability Goals. This document provides a framework for wider campus discussions about University 2030 Sustainability Goals. The drafting Committee recognizes that these goals, at the time of this Proposal, do not include measurable outcomes. Goals with quantifiable and measurable outcomes will follow from broader agreement about Core Areas of focus and a 2030 goals framework, according to the timeline noted below.

Background and Goal Setting Process

In 2008, President Sally Mason of the University of Iowa challenged the University community to more fully integrate sustainability into its mission. This challenge was articulated in a set of goals, entitled “Vision 2020 – University of Iowa’s Sustainability Targets,” announced in 2010.

During 2019, spurred in part by calls from students voiced through shared governance resolutions, a process of internal deliberation was set in motion to develop an updated set of goals appropriate for 2030 and beyond.

Several ad-hoc task forces were established in the Fall of 2019 by Senior Vice President for Finance and Operations, Rod Lehnertz. One task force was the “2030 UI Sustainability Goal Setting” task force, chaired by the Director of the Office of Sustainability and Environment (Stratis Giannakouros). The task force met in late 2019 and early 2020, with representation from faculty, students, and staff. Task force members were encouraged to solicit ideas and feedback on the 2030 goals from interested parties in their respective stakeholder groups.

While Vision 2020 focused mainly on issues actionable by the UI Facilities group and the Office of Sustainability, our task force realized that 2030 Sustainability Goals need a shared commitment and shared action from across the entire University – touching units engaged in activities ranging from academics, research, operations, planning, engagement, athletics, and student life. Because of the broad and deep intersection with the University mission and community, the task force recommends an extended period for campus dialogue, with an initial phase culminating in a phase-one release on Earth Day (April 22) 2020, and a release of phase-two by year’s end.

Phase one will include measurable goals and metrics only in the areas of renewable fuels and GHG emissions. Feedback on these goals and strategies will be solicited through open processes (web feedback collection, in person forums) and through dialogue with key stakeholder groups.  

Information about the phase one public forums (listening posts) and web feedback collection is here

The UI’s 2030 Sustainability Goals Subcommittee will be gathering feedback from UI community faculty, staff, and students on the UI’s 2030 Sustainability Goals. These sessions included a presentation by the 2030 Sustainability Goals Subcommittee, open discussion, and feedback gathering.  There were two opportunities to attend the listening posts and weigh in on the draft 2030 Sustainability Goals. They were on:

  • Monday February 17, 2020 from 6-7 pm in 140 SH; and  
  • Tuesday February 18, 2020 from 3:30-4:30 pm in 140 SH

The events are listed on the UI Events calendar: events.uiowa.edu/34277 and  events.uiowa.edu/34276. The draft Goals will be posted in early February on this website. 

For those who cannot attend, please submit suggestions and comments for the Subcommittee via Qualtric here

In phase two, phase one’s goals and strategies will be extended to include critical tasks and metrics.  It will also go through review by shared governance bodies during the Fall 2020 semester (see for example the differences between goals, strategies, critical tasks, and metrics in the University of Iowa Strategic Plan).

To reiterate, the timeline for stakeholder input, shared governance feedback, and full adoption of comprehensive 2030 Sustainability Goals is proposed as follows:

  • February – March 15, 2020: Open comment period on this phase-one draft (UISG, GPSG, Staff Council, Faculty Senate, Council of Deans, President’s Office, Finance and Operations, P3 Partner, and Provost’s Office). One or more open forums to occur.
  • March 31, 2020: Revision of the phase-one draft by the task force, in response to the comments received. Transmittal to the Sustainability Charter Committee and Senior Vice President for Finance and Operations.
  • April 22, 2020: Public release of the phase-one plan, in the form of “2030 Sustainability Goals.”
  • May, 2020: Task force completes a 1st draft of the phase-two document, including critical tasks and metrics.
  • August - October 2020: Formal consideration of phase-two plan by shared governance bodies and other stakeholders during the Fall 2020 semester.
  • November, 2020: Revision of phase-two plan based on shared governance feedback.
  • November, 2020: Transmittal from the task force to the Sustainability Charter Committee and Senior Vice President for Finance and Operations.

Principles underpinning the 2030 goals:

  1. Campus sustainability efforts require collective action within all parts of the University, and across all campus missions – including, but not limited to, Research & Discovery, Student Success, and Engagement. This needs to include the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, campus planning, and outward-facing units such as Athletics and Admissions.

  2. Units need the appropriate space to identify how they can contribute to the campus-wide goals with actions that align with their specific missions and strengths.

  3. In forming unit-specific sustainability action plans, units need training, technical support, and advice from centralized groups such Facilities and the Office of Sustainability and Environment to draft achievable unit goals.

  4. UI 2030 Sustainability goals, strategies, critical tasks, and metrics need to be flexible. They need to accommodate new information and conditions such as scientific findings, policy changes, energy market shifts, and higher education trends over the 10 year period of the Goals.

  5. UI 2030 Sustainability goals should be periodically reviewed and updated. Our recommendation is for a review every five years, conducted by the Sustainability Charter Committee.

  6.  Independent third-party review of campus sustainability is required.

The Suggested 2030 Sustainability Goals Framework

1.  Designate Carbon Emissions Reduction Target

  • Comprehensive low-carbon transition plan
  • Updated transportation goals
  • Carbon impact assessment in new buildings and infrastructure planning
  • Natural gas reduction

2.  Institutions and Campus Culture

  • Implement Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) approach
  • Purchasing and Investment
  • Auxiliary goals (Housing and Dining, Parking & Transit, Athletics)
  • University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics
    • Determine the current carbon footprint of the hospital and perioperative services
    • Set a carbon reduction target
  • Integration of 2030 sustainability goals into campus planning
  • Sustainability reflected in UI strategic plan, College strategic plans, Auxilliary strategic plans
  • Sustainability in job descriptions, performance reviews and recognition of professional certification

 ​​​3.  Sustainability Research, Scholarship and Solutions

  • Support for use-inspired sustainability research by faculty and students
  • Build interdisciplinary collaboration across Colleges and departments on campus
  • Support Grand Challenges and Systems thinking approaches
  • Engage students in sustainability solutions research 

4.  Campus Built and Natural Environment - Living Laboratory for Sustainability

  • Biodiversity  
  • Water (specific focus on Iowa River) 
  • Energy  
  • Food   
  • Enhance on campus biodiversity (eg: Riparian, prairie, arboreal, others) 
  • Create on campus opportunities for applied and engaged learning 
  • Build upon efforts for applied knowledge in courses 
  • Chemical use - Reduce, replace, and avoid use of PBT chemicals on campus (Persistent, Bioaccumulating, and Toxic chemicals) 
  • Create on campus opportunities for applied and engaged learning in the Circular Economy 

5. Sustainability Education 

  • Add a sustainability General Education Requirement across all Colleges
  • Make sustainability/climate literacy universal outcome
  • Enhance Majors, graduate degrees and certificates 

6.  Develop outreach and engagement opportunities to advance sustainability mission 

  • Increase the number of community-engaged learning opportunities for students interested in sustainability through course-based service-learning projects and community-based research projects.
  • In collaboration with the Provost’s Office of Engagement and other partners on campus, build partnerships with communities across Iowa and beyond that are seeking to advance shared sustainability goals.  

The 2030 Sustainability Goals Subcommittee Members

Those campus partners enlisted to assist in this draft are listed here:  

  • Stratis Giannakouros, Director of the Office of Sustainability and the Environment 
  • Michelle Scherer, Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering  
  • Charles Stanier, Professor in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering  
  • Richard (Ty) Priest, Associate Professor in History and Geography  
  • Erin Irish, Associate Professor in Biology and Co-Chair of the Presidential Sustainability Charter Committee  
  • Matthew Hill, Associate Professor in Anthropology 
  • Jerry Schnoor, Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering 
  • Dave Bennett, Professor in Geographical and Sustainability Sciences 
  • Andrew Forbes, Associate Professor in Biology 
  • Rakesh Sondekoppam Vijayashankar, Clinical Associate Professor of Anesthesia 
  • Ben Fish, Associate Director of Utility Operations  
  • Sara Maples, Manager of Research Support and Sustainability in Tippie College of Business 
  • Nicholas Benson, Executive Director of the Office of Outreach and Engagement  
  • Elizabeth MacKenzie, Recycling Coordinator in the Office of Sustainability and the Environment 
  • Blake Rupe, Sustainability Program Manager in the Office of Sustainability and the Environment  
  • Noel Mills, President of UI Student Government  
  • Thomas Pak, Vice President of Graduate Student Government  
  • Julia Krist, Project Lead in the Office of Sustainability and the Environment