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Canadian STARS-Rated Campus Sustainability Plans: Priorities, Plan Creation and Design

DOI: 10.3390/su7010725, PP. 725-746

Keywords: sustainability in higher education, education for sustainable development, campus sustainability, campus planning, sustainability plans, Canada, post-secondary education, higher education, sustainable development, STARS

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Abstract:

The use of integrated sustainability plans is an emerging trend in higher education institutions (HEIs) to set sustainability priorities and to create a work plan for action. This paper analyses the sustainability plans of 21 Canadian HEIs that have used the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). The plans were coded thematically with a focus on the sustainability goals, process of plan creation, and aspects of plan design outlined in the texts. This paper finds that sustainability goals focused on the environmental aspects of sustainability, while social and economic aspects were less emphasized. Further, most plans were described as being created through a broad stakeholder-consultation process, while fewer plans assigned timelines and parties responsible to sustainability goals. This paper contributes to our understanding of the priorities of Canadian HEI institutions at the end of the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development and is useful for practitioners interested in developing their own sustainability plans.

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