Where To Start > Environmental Policy & Sustainability Plan

Many colleges and universities have established campus-wide environmental policies, often found within a campus “sustainability plan” or “climate action plan,” to define and advance their commitment to environmental stewardship. An environmental policy sends a clear message to students, alumni, staff, employees, vendors, and the community at large. It’s a meaningful first step in any effort to improve an institution’s environmental performance.

If your school has a sustainability plan in place that includes an environmental policy, investigate ways to better integrate the goals, strategies and recommendations of that guiding document into the athletics and recreation departments’ policies and operations. Meet with the staff overseeing the implementation of the campus-wide environmental policy and discuss opportunities to meet the school’s environmental goals in all sports facilities.

Publicize the athletics and recreation departments’ commitment to the school’s sustainability plan on their respective websites. Suggest ways for the campus sports community–athletes, coaches, fans and visitors–to support the environmental goals outlined in the school’s environmental policy.

If your school does not have a sustainability plan that outlines a campus-wide environmental policy, consider creating your own environmental policy using the sample policy below. Collaborate with campus administration, professors, any sustainability staff, and other experts on campus to build a model environmental policy for your sports department. Work with other departments across your institution to encourage campus-wide adoption of the policy.


Human activity can have harmful effects on ecological systems and public health by contributing to serious environmental concerns such as deforestation, global warming, water pollution, and biodiversity loss. Recognizing this, [our department/institution] is committed to reducing our environmental footprint and promoting environmental stewardship at all levels of our organization. Our goal is to operate a world-class sports organization and to provide an exciting experience for fans while minimizing our organization’s impact on the environment and helping to preserve the ability of future generations to safely live and play in our shared natural environment.

[Our department/institution] will strive to identify and purchase environmentally preferable supplies and services for all games and events where economically feasible. Wherever possible, [our department/institution] will strive to minimize pollution and waste, conserve energy and water, protect habitats, support renewable energy resources, buy environmentally intelligent products, and encourage environmentally preferable transportation.

These efforts will extend to contractor and supplier relationships, where [our department/institution] will encourage contractors and suppliers serving or otherwise acting on behalf of the organization to meet our standards of environmental performance.

Employee understanding and involvement is essential to the implementation of this environmental policy. All employees will receive a copy of this policy and be educated about our organization’s efforts to improve our environmental performance. Employees at all levels of the [department/institution] will be involved in supporting our goals.

Our commitment to environmental stewardship is long-term. A healthy environment benefits everyone – students, staff, fans, alumni, sponsors and the community at large.


Once you have established an environmental policy for your athletics and recreation departments, consider developing a departmental sustainability plan. Ideally, this would build on a campus-wide sustainability plan. Collaborate with knowledgeable staff across your institution wherever possible to create your sustainability plan specific to athletics and recreation.

Start by measuring existing resource use and waste generation across athletics and recreation facilities. Work with facilities staff to commission energy, water, and waste audits to identify opportunities for resource conservation and financial savings in your sports facilities. Use the data collected to determine the financial and operational feasibility of various infrastructure upgrades and improvements to building management systems. This information will help prioritize infrastructure upgrades for your sports venues based on the estimated return on investment. Similarly, audit waste generation and paper use to identify efficiency opportunities in those areas.

Once you have the results of your audits, use this information (along with other priority actions for your department) to assemble a list of short and long-term goals that align with the athletics and recreation departments’ environmental policy. Clearly define responsibilities and integrate goals into performance metrics. Record staff requirements, budget needs, cost-benefit analyses and implementation timeline for each goal.

Prioritize initiatives based on environmental impact, return on investment and available resources. Set quantitative reduction goals (e.g. energy use, GHG emissions, water use, waste generation, recycling diversion) and timelines. Report progress to all staff and report accomplishments to campus community.


University of Texas-Pan American Athletics Sustainability Plan
University of Texas at Austin Athletics Sustainability Program (page 21)
Yale Athletics Sustainability Strategic Plan (full plan not publicly available)


The University of Florida Sustainable Strategic Vision
Brown University Energy and Environmental Mission
UCLA’s Climate Action Plan
University of New Mexico’s Climate Action Plan
University of Buffalo’s Climate Action Report
University of Florida’s Carbon Neutral Assessment Project
The University of California Campus Sustainability Assessments, Reports and Plans
New York University’s Climate Action Plan
Yale University Sustainability Strategic Plan
University of British Columbia Sustainability Plan
Princeton University Sustainability Plan


Hewlett Packard
JP Morgan


Drafting an environmental policy and sustainability plan sends a message to students, alumni, staff, partners, fans and your community that your institution considers environmentally intelligent practices an organizational priority. When a department or entire campus adopts such a policy, it becomes easier to meet these goals.


AASHE Campus Climate Action Plans
AASHE How-To Guide For College and University Climate Action Planning
AASHE Ten Tips for Developing a Sustainability Game Plan for Athletic Departments
American College & University President’s Climate Commitment Climate Action Planning
American College & University President’s Climate Commitment Implementation Guide