The University of Washington has established a commitment to environmental stewardship, setting the bar well above merely complying with laws and standards. The University is committed to being a positive force for enhancement of the environment, not just in research but in how it manages facilities and resources.

Environmental Stewardship at the University of Washington
Thursday, July 29, 2004
As the pre-eminent research university in Washington, the Evergreen State, the UW and its faculty, staff, and students recognize that we share a responsibility to act as a positive force for the enhancement of the local and global environment. The University of Washington embraces its important leadership role regionally and nationally to be an environmentally, economically, and socially responsible institution. The University is committed to practicing and promoting environmental stewardship while conducting its teaching, research, and service missions as well as its facility operations in all of its locations. Recognizing that this is fundamental to ensure a legacy for the future and to protect the healthy and safe learning and working environments valued by the UW, the institution and all members of the University community support actions, decisions, and leadership that will:

  • Provide educational opportunities to the campus communities on sound environmental practices.
  • Create intellectual resources which can be used to achieve goals for sustainability for this and future generations.
  • Create partnerships at all levels within and outside the University that further the practice of environmental stewardship and sustainability.

Through its landholdings and operations on three campuses and several other locations, the scale and scope of the University's activities have the potential to significantly affect the environment. Ranging from working on a reclaimed landfill site to long-term monitoring of intertidal wetlands to upland temperate forests to fully built office high-rises in downtown Seattle, the present activities of the University are widespread and are of local and regional significance. By exercising effective management over its activities, the University will promote the sustainable use of its resources, seek to minimize risks to and negative impacts on the environment, and underscore our commitment to protect human health and the environment. Such effective management is exercised through the application of the following expectations:

  • The University requires all activities to meet or exceed conformance with applicable environmental standards, regulations, and guidelines.
  • Teaching, research, and service activities are conducted in a manner that seek to minimize negative impacts on the environment and promote sound environmental practice.
  • Operations reduce resource consumption to the maximum degree feasible.
  • Environmental stewardship and sustainability opportunities are promoted in land use, development, and construction practices.
  • Environmental concerns are incorporated as a significant priority in University decision-making.

The University further recognizes that support and implementation of these core expectations does and will take many different forms. Specific guidance and suggestions for the University community are available on the following websites:
To measure University progress towards each of these expectations, the Provost and the Executive Vice President (EVP) have established the University of Washington Environmental Stewardship Advisory Committee. This Committee draws its membership from the faculty, staff, and students of the three campuses. Members provide operational and intellectual breadth so the Committee can:

  • Advise the Provost and EVP on the progress towards each of the expectation areas noted above.
  • Develop, in collaboration with appropriate university units, benchmark measures of efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and the impact of activities in these areas.
  • Identify long-term goals and standards by which the UW community can examine its effectiveness and short-term progress towards agreed-upon goals as well as timelines for evaluation of progress.
  • Identify emerging opportunities for collaboration between academic programs and operational interests.
  • Identify mechanisms by which the UW community, through collaborative efforts across academic and service units, can be made aware of the progress being made throughout the institution.
  • Interact with and receive information from existing environmental stewardship committees/activities throughout the University, including the University SEPA committee, the Montlake Landfill Oversight Committee, the Solid Waste Advisory Committee, and relevant academic units.
  • Report annually to the Provost and EVP as well as to the University community on activities and accomplishments.

To increase the committee's efficiency and effectiveness, initial staff support will be provided for up to three years. The staff member will help coordinate committee activities, carry out specific tasks assigned by the committee, and maintain relationships with appropriate offices and interests. It is expected that after the initial three years, the staff position will be sustained by the financial benefits of this effort, indicating that environmental stewardship can result in economic and as well as environmental and societal benefits.