A key component of creating a better tomorrow comes from establishing sound policies to guide decision-making today. The following represent a selection of key policies pertinent to sustainability at Auburn University.
Adopted in 2011, Auburn University’s Sustainability Policy affirms the university’s commitment to sustainability as a core value and guiding principle for its operations, instruction, research, and outreach. It also outlines key sustainability goals, and commits to using a tracking and assessment system to measure progress.
First adopted in 1990, and reaffirmed in 2009, the Tree Preservation Policy acknowledges the ecological, cultural, and aesthetic value of trees to our campus community. The policy established a Tree Preservation Committee, generated a tree inventory, lays out the circumstances under which a tree may be removed, and the process of approving a tree’s removal. The Policy encourages tree replacement.
Revised in 2014, the Equal Employment Opportunity Policy asserts the university’s commitment to employment practices that do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex [including sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression], age, religion, national origin, disability, veteran status, and/or genetic information. While everyone helps to ensure an equal opportunity workplace, the Office of Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity monitors performance in relation to this policy.
Updated in 2012, the Speech and Demonstration Policy supports the right of students, employees, and visitors to speak in public and to demonstrate for or against actions and opinions. The policy establishes the steps of Ralph Brown Draughton Library as an Open Air Forum available for speech and demonstration activities, given the individual/group obtains a proper permit from Student Center Operations’ office.
Per the 2012 Policy on Faculty and Staff Communication with State and Elected Federal Officials, Faculty and Staff of the university must follow detailed guidelines pertaining to contact with certain state and federal officials. This policy helps ensure compliance with legal requirements, enhance effectiveness of communications, and facilitate coordination.
The Traffic and Parking Regulations outline the policies, rules, and penalties associated with the use of motor vehicles, skateboards, and bicycles on Auburn’s campus.
Recognizing the significant health and economic impacts of smoking and the threat second-hand smoke poses for the entire campus community, in August 2013, Auburn adopted a Smoke-Free Campus Policy, which bans the use of smokable products on campus property by students, faculty, staff, consultants, contractors, and visitors.
Originally adopted in 1990, the Drug Free Campus and Workplace Policy promotes a safe and efficient educational and work environment by prohibiting the unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, possession, or use of illicit drugs or alcohol by students or employees at any time on any university property or at any university activity. The policy also creates protocols surrounding a violation of the policy, and establishes the Advisory Committee for a Drug-Free Campus and Workplace.
The Health and Safety Considerations Policy provides implementation guidance to ensure a safe and healthful environment for faculty, staff, students, and visitors.
While policies guide decision-making, leaders still need to formulate plans in order to fully implement the policies. The following plans demonstrate Auburn’s commitment to utilizing sustainability as key operating principle for the university.
The university’s 2019-2024 Strategic Plan guides the day-to-day operations of all campus units. Various themes of sustainability can be found throughout the plan, but explicitly appear in Goal 6: Operational Excellence, which states that “where cost-effective and practicable, policies, practices, and procedures will incorporate the principles of sustainability.
The Comprehensive Campus Master Plan guides the development of campus lands and facility assets through alignment with the university’s mission, vision, values, and strategic priorities. While clearly integrated throughout the plan, sustainability plays an increasingly prominent role in helping to shape the future of campus through its inclusion as a core value and key chapter within the master plan (Executive Summary p. 26 and Chapter 13 p. 203).
As a member of the Climate Leadership Network and a signatory of the Carbon Commitment, Auburn University dedicates itself to the pursuit of climate neutrality. To help guide the university toward this lofty goal, over 150 stakeholders from across campus worked together in 2010 to create Auburn University’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) to move Auburn toward climate neutrality by 2050. Much like the Campus Master Plan, the CAP is considered a living document, having been refined in 2019, and will continue to be revisited and revised as the campus moves further toward our goals.
The Utilities and Energy department within Facilities Management works aggressively to control utility consumption, and consequently intensity, within campus facilities. In an effort to strategically address these issues, they have worked with multiple campus stakeholders to develop and implement the university’s Energy Reduction Plan. This plan establishes both short and long term goals for electricity, gas, and water, and identifies specific strategies, objectives, and timelines.
The University 2016-2018 academic plans for curriculum and research were prepared by Academic Sustainability Programs during Fall 2015 for submission to the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System evaluation through the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. These plans include specific objectives and deliverables in the areas of both research and teaching, to be pursued during 2016 – 2018 at Auburn University. Feedback is welcome from the campus community on both planning documents, as the Academic Sustainability Program works to implement the objectives. Direct comments to Dr. Sarah Hamilton.
Auburn University is in the process of developing a Landscape Master Plan. This plan will guide the development, implementation, and management of the university’s landscapes through a holistic approach based on ecology, to foster the development of an integrated, thriving open space system for students, faculty, staff, and visitors.
As a large landholder, Auburn University recognizes its responsibility to help improve water quality in Alabama. To improve the quality and availability of water in our community, the university has developed and adopted a Stormwater Management Plan (SWMP). This SWMP outlines six overarching categories of best management practices, along with implementation goals, for controlling the volume and improving the quality of stormwater runoff on campus.
Parkerson Mill Creek runs through the heart of Auburn’s main campus, and unfortunately faces challenges in terms of water quality and overall stream degradation. Recognizing the role the university can play in efforts to improve this creek’s health, the university gathered numerous stakeholders from the university, City of Auburn, and State of Alabama to develop the Parkerson Mill Creek Watershed Management Plan. The plan outlines the current conditions of the creek, challenges to its health, and alternative management practices that, once implemented, will lead to improvements in the creek’s quality.