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Sustainability reporting has gained increased importance amongst corporations globally as it provides information about the organization’s economic, environmental, and social performance — the triple bottom line!
At UT Arlington, the Office of Sustainability in collaboration with the University Sustainability Committee used two frameworks to support the evaluation of UT Arlington’s key impacts and to determine report topics: the GRI Reporting Framework, the most widely used standard for sustainability reporting worldwide; and AASHE's Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure our sustainability performance.
The committee identified an initial set of goals that focus on the university’s key environmental impacts and align with and support the University’s Strategic Plan and the Campus Master Plan. In addition, the committee performed an initial review of economic and social aspects in relation to university priorities and considered these aspects alongside external feedback to determine the scope of topics in this report.
As part of the materiality assessment process undertaken for this report, a team of Sustainability Studies students, working under the guidance of the Office of Sustainability and external sustainability reporting consultants, conducted an anonymous survey to identify and rank sustainability topics of the greatest importance to a sample of key stakeholders.
Sustainability Reporting Framework enables us to measure and report our sustainability performance. By reporting transparently and with accountability, we can increase the trust that stakeholders and community have in us and achieve a competitive edge.
Universities are unique in that they have an opportunity to influence not only the community around them, but also the students, faculty, and staff within. Today, most campus sustainability initiatives realize cost savings from the use of long lasting CFL bulbs or double-paned windows. But economic benefits are not the only force behind sustainability at UT Arlington. We tap into the “moral imperative,” based on the concept that everything is part of the puzzle.
Students attending a university that places high value on sustainable operations are more likely to take this mindset to their future places of employment where they can help shape the future of environmentally-friendly companies. We hope that our leadership and accomplishment in producing UT Arlington’s GRI/Sustainability report will showcase our efforts in sustainability will also serve as an example for other educational institutions.