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EPA Sector Strategies Program Update

March 18, 2004

The U.S. EPA Colleges and Universities Sector Strategies Program is a partnership designed to promote sectorwide environmental progress through regulatory innovation, the promotion of environmental management systems, and measurement of environmental performance and progress over time. For general background information, see www.epa.gov/sectors/colleges/.

This activity update advises interested parties of recent Sector activities, and in particular, the activities of the three work groups.

Coordinating Committee

Six organizations have partnered with the U.S. EPA in the Colleges and Universities Sector program. Each partner has designated a sector contact. The sector contacts, along with the EPA point-of-contact, serve as the Coordinating Committee. The current committee members are:

Bruce Backus (Chair), Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)
Shai Morris, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Shelley Steinbach, American Council on Education (ACE)
Lander Medlin, Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers (APPA)
Peter Schneider, Campus Consortium for Environmental Excellence (C2E2)
Cheri Hildreth, Campus Safety Health and Environmental Management Association (CSHEMA)
Anne Gross, National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO)

Work Groups

On November 19, 2003, the Coordinating Committee met in Washington, D.C., and formed three work groups to tailor efforts on the priority areas of the sector program. The work groups were formed to reflect the diverse nature of the Colleges and Universities Sector. Participating members are from nonprofit groups, EPA regions, and colleges and universities of all sizes, both public and independent, with widespread geographic representation. Since December 2003, all three work groups have been holding regular conference calls.

Performance Measurement Work Group

Harold Glasser, Western Michigan University (Chair)

This work group is exploring the value of and challenges involved in campus performance measurement. The group is currently participating in an initial project to measure the following key environmental indicators on their campuses over the past five years: energy and greenhouse gas emissions, hazardous waste, water, solid waste, and recycling rate. Many of these indicators are presented in the new performance measurement poster available at www.C2E2.org.

The project's emphasis is on exploring the process of performance measurement on campuses. This project will give insight into appropriate methodologies to measure these indicators, as well as what tools should be developed to help institutions measure for intra-institutional and sector-scale comparisons. The project will begin this month. An update will be presented at the Sector conference in Chicago on July 8.

For more information on this group, contact Shai Morris.

EMS Work Group

Harvest Collier, University of Missouri Rolla  (Chair)

The Environmental Management Systems work group is developing strategies to address three portions of the Colleges and Universities Sector: (1) colleges and universities with no previous consideration of an EMS, (2) those that have made EMS considerations but require assistance, and (3) those that have already begun the EMS development and implementation process, but could benefit from specific and more quantitative EMS tools.

The group began this process by preparing two documents: 1) a one-page description, “What is an EMS?” to synchronize our various perspectives and have a simple educational tool, and 2) a non-regulatory, soft letter to college and university presidents that promotes the systems with testimonials and case studies highlighting financial benefits. 

The group has also been discussing the formation of an EMS Web site to assist colleges and universities with the preliminary and implementation phases of EMS development. Additional resources being discussed include workshops, a Best Management Practices catalog, and increased speaking engagements on EMS at higher education conferences.

For more information on this group, contact Harvest Collier.

Regulatory Innovation Work Group

Bill Diesslin, Iowa State University (Chair)

This work group is currently focusing on the RCRA/Lab waste issue. The group is working with the Coordinating Committee to develop a proposal, strategy, and analysis for a RCRA/Lab waste rulemaking.

For more information on this group, contact Bill Diesslin.

Chicago Meeting in July

The three work groups and the Coordinating Committee will be holding the Sector's first in-person meeting on July 8, 2004, in Chicago after the Annual CSHEMA Conference. Stay tuned for more information on this conference.

Bruce Backus, Chair
Coordinating Committee
Assistant Vice Chancellor
Washington University in St. Louis

Shai Morris, EPA
College & Universities Sector Program
US Environmental Protection Agency
Sector Strategies Division