May 5, 2023

Sustainability initiatives outlined for NU system

On June 23 the University of Nebraska Board of Regents approved a tuition rate freeze.

The University of Nebraska system has outlined a new set of sustainability measures drawn from the recommendations of an 80-member team of faculty, staff and students.

The targets are a supplement to existing sustainability plans for each university in the NU system. The measures outline goals for increasing engagement and collaboration in sustainability efforts, using resources responsibly, and continuing to integrate sustainability practices in facilities and procurement work where appropriate.

The goals were developed from more than 100 ideas generated by the President’s Sustainability Council, an NU systemwide group convened last year to help elevate and unite sustainability efforts across the system. Creation of systemwide sustainability measures is part of a five-year strategy outlined by Ted Carter, NU system president.

“Our goal is to be the best possible stewards of the resources entrusted to us — both natural and fiscal,” Carter said. “I am very pleased to share these sustainability measures that reflect the common-sense values of our university and state.

“Our students, faculty, staff and community members have brought great energy and engagement to this effort and I am thankful for their leadership. We will continue to work together with all Nebraskans to become even more effective and efficient in our use of our precious resources.”

The full sustainability document is available here. Goals outlined in the plan include:

  • Fund and hire student interns across the NU system to support sustainability outreach and engagement efforts.

  • Host an annual Sustainability Summit, rotated among the campuses. The inaugural summit was held this fall at Nebraska Innovation Campus.

  • Establish a systemwide award to recognize excellence in sustainability. Details and application information on the inaugural award will be released.

  • Encourage re-use initiatives that reduce waste and support students, like “career closets” and programs that allow students to easily donate or recycle items when moving out of the residence halls rather than throw them away.

  • Set systemwide targets for reducing energy use, water use and waste, and publicize annual progress toward the targets.

  • Incorporate sustainability best practices into facilities planning, for example prioritizing energy efficiency in university buildings to save costs.

  • Promote more local purchases by adding a designation for “local” and/or “sustainable” products in the university’s procurement catalog.

  • Develop strategies with vendors to reduce packaging waste.

Members of the university community are invited to share systemwide sustainability ideas by emailing