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New council forms to advance university sustainability goals

Posted on September 29, 2014

A council has been formed that will focus on planning and advancing sustainability as a campus-wide goal and value at Grand Valley.  

The Campus Sustainability Advisory Council comprises 25 faculty and staff members, including representatives from all eight colleges and a wide variety of units and divisions. Jim Bachmeier, vice president for Finance and Administration, and Norman Christopher, executive director of the Office of Sustainability Practices, serve as co-chairs. 

“Our goal is to move sustainability at Grand Valley more deeply into academia,” said Bachmeier. “We’ve done an incredible job at being environmentally sustainable through recycling, composting and energy-saving efforts, but it’s now time to look at how sustainability is integrated into all facets of campus.” 

The group, formally called the Sustainability Advisory Board, was reconstructed to include a broader campus representation and coordination of planning and programming. 

Christopher said the council will discuss ways to raise Grand Valley’s STARS score, a national assessment system designed to gauge the progress of colleges and universities toward sustainability in all sectors. While Grand Valley has maintained gold status for the past two years, Christopher said there’s room for improvement. 

“Sustainability at Grand Valley is progressing at such a rapid pace, so this council will help to continue best practices and identify our next steps,” said Christopher. “Before, we were on a progress journey. Now the campus community is on a journey to make an impact. People want to see change in behavior, and this council will give us the opportunity to do that.” 

The council comes as the Office of Sustainability Practices, formerly the Sustainable Community Development Initiative, announces its name change.  

Anne Hiskes, dean of the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies, said the name change is part of a comprehensive plan to strengthen and broaden Grand Valley’s achievements in the areas of triple-bottom line sustainability. 

“Going from an initiative to an office was a natural evolution,” Hiskes said. “We plan to better integrate sustainability programming with curriculum and enhance high impact learning opportunities for students. We are excited about the potential of the office to engage the campus community in a discussion of sustainability-related goals.”

Learn more about the Office of Sustainability Practices at