Lehigh campus

Bold 10-Year Plan Addresses Key Areas for Sustainability Action at Lehigh

The new plan focuses on 113 goals across six strategic areas.

Building on the accomplishments of Lehigh’s previous four-year Campus Sustainability Plan 2020, the Office of Sustainability has released Lehigh’s Sustainability Strategic Plan 2030, an ambitious plan that focuses on 113 goals across six strategic areas and that integrates financially prudent, socially just and ecologically sound practices into Lehigh’s administrative, academic and operational processes. 

The 2030 Plan was released Oct. 28 on Campus Sustainability Day, an international celebration of sustainability in higher education. Throughout October, colleges and universities engage and inspire students and other campus stakeholders to become sustainability change agents. 

Developed with input from the Lehigh community―students, faculty, staff, alumni and the Bethlehem community―and guided by the Lehigh Sustainability Council, the 2030 Plan represents the culmination of a year-long interdisciplinary and interdepartmental strategic planning process. That process included numerous meetings with administrative departments and colleges to establish goals and get buy-in, campus workshops and engagement with the City of Bethlehem and the Bethlehem community. Additionally, an Alumni Advisory Council made up of nine alumni was established and offered its expertise to shape the plan. 

“Sustainability efforts at Lehigh are intentional and inventive,” President John D. Simon ’19P said. “The teaching, research and service of the members of our campus community contribute to a deeper understanding of our environment and of our responsibilities to it.” 

The 2030 plan builds on the university’s 2009 Climate Commitment, the 2012 Campus Sustainability Plan—the university’s first institutional sustainability road map—and the Campus Sustainability Plan 2020, which was adopted in 2016 and built on the goals in the first plan. 

"Sustainability is a strategic initiative at Lehigh,” said Patricia A. Johnson, vice president for finance and administration. “This 10-year plan continues to move us toward fully integrating sustainability into the institutional ethos."

Based on a vision of an inclusive Lehigh community where sustainability is an integral part of the institutional ethos, the 2030 plan establishes near-term, intermediate-, and long-term goals.  

“One of the university’s visions is a commitment to social, environmental, and economic sustainability,” said Provost Nathan Urban. “This plan will advance solutions that support sustainable change in operations, academics, administration and community.” 

Lehigh Sustainability Officer Katharine Targett Gross said the alignment of these sustainability values with Lehigh’s practices embodies the university’s motto, “Homo Minister et Interpres Naturae,” which translates to “Man (now interpreted as Humanity), the servant and interpreter of nature.”

“The 2030 plan establishes a long-term vision for sustainability at Lehigh and is fully integrated across campus,” Targett Gross said. “It will improve operational efficiencies and promote cost savings, while establishing a culture of sustainability at Lehigh.” 

Each of the 113 goals within the plan are tied to one or more of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The plan’s six focus areas include Climate Action, Campus Operations, Educational Experience, Culture & Engagement, Health & Wellness and Focused Leadership:

Climate Action

Through energy efficiency measures, energy conservation, renewable energy sourcing and energy management, Lehigh is proactively reducing its campus greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating global climate change. Lehigh continues to play an active role in the search for innovative solutions addressing global climate change and in resiliently adapting to its impacts. View the Climate Action goals.

Campus Operations

From the built environment and land stewardship to waste, water, purchasing and connections and mobility, Lehigh continues to seek and embrace new and innovative ways to operate. In doing so, Lehigh will enhance its operational efficiencies, save money and increase the overall well-being of the university and community as a whole. View the Campus Operations goals.

Educational Experience

Lehigh develops and empowers the leaders of tomorrow. By integrating sustainability into the university’s educational experience, Lehigh prepares its students to solve today’s challenges, while identifying opportunities to create a healthier and more sustainable future. Through experiential learning opportunities, the university arms its graduates with premium skills for the workplace of the future.  View the Educational Experience goals.

Culture & Engagement

Engaging the campus community to embrace diverse perspectives and cultivate environmental stewardship is one of Lehigh’s top priorities. Lehigh is weaving sustainable practices into all levels of the institution and fostering a “One Lehigh” sustainability culture across the university’s three campuses. View the Culture and Engagement goals.

Health & Wellness

Health and the quality of life greatly impact employee satisfaction, student engagement and the productivity of the campus community. By providing healthy food choices, an employee wellness program and purposeful landscapes and building designs, Lehigh is creating opportunities to improve the health and wellness of the faculty, staff, students, community and broader world. View the Health and Wellness goals.

Focused Leadership

Lehigh aims to position itself as a local and global leader in sustainability and a model sustainable campus in higher education. From external partnerships and financial decisions to sustainability commitments and reporting accountability, Lehigh demonstrates leadership in seeking and embracing new solutions that support long-term sustainable change. View the Focused Leadership goals.

“Having a 10-year plan allows us to be ambitious and make tangible progress by building out short, intermediate, and long-term goals,” Lehigh Sustainability Program Manager Audrey McSain said. 

Lehigh's 2030 Plan continues to build on the progress of the last decade. 

“Although Lehigh has made great strides, there is more to be done to ensure Lehigh continues to seek and embrace new solutions to support long-term sustainable change,” Targett Gross said. “The plan focuses on our global climate challenges and how Lehigh can serve as a model sustainable campus through practices that contribute to the health of our campus, our community and our planet.” 

The Lehigh community is invited to review the 2030 sustainability plan and consider how to use sustainability principles to catalyze innovation and creativity for leadership among higher education and in the broader community.  To learn more about this plan, we invite you to join our informational showcases on any of the following dates: 

  • ERAC Knowledge at Noon: Lehigh Sustainability Strategic Plan 2030
  • 2030 Plan Showcase
    • Monday, Nov. 16 (4:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m.)
    • Audience: Students, Faculty, Staff, Alumni, and Community
    • Register here

There will be additional opportunities to attend an informational showcase in the spring.  You can learn more by visiting the Sustainability Strategic Plan 2030 website.

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