Washington University in St. Louis has long been committed to reducing its environmental impact. Student environmental organizations have existed for decades. As a result of student leadership, the university founded the Committee on Environmental Quality in 2000 to promote the importance of environmental conservation and to guide the university to adopt lower impact practices. In 2007, WashU hired its first full-time administrative leader dedicated to sustainability. The first Strategic Plan for Sustainable Operations was adopted in 2010, and the Office of Sustainability was created in 2011 with the charge of integrating sustainable values and practices into strategic planning processes, campus operations, and overall university practices.
The 2010 plan highlighted seven key goal areas to infuse the university with the values and practices of sustainability: energy reduction, green building, alternative transportation, food systems, landscape, waste, and culture. It guided WashU’s subsequent sustainability efforts and laid a foundation for the 2015-2020 Strategic Plan for Sustainable Operations, which reports on progress made since 2010, establishes updated goals and targets, and outlines in-depth action plans.