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A study of development mode in green campus to realize the sustainable development goals

Partners' Institution
Södertörn University
Zhu, B., Zhu, C., Dewancker, B., 2020. A study of development mode in green campus to realize the sustainable development goals. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education 21, 799–818.
Thematic Area
Environmental studies
The purpose of this paper is to focus on the way to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Through the introduction and learning of a specific case, this paper summarizes the specific process of green campus’s development and construction and directly discusses how to achieve the goal of sustainable development. By analyzing the achievements and measures of its construction, on the one hand, the experience and shortcomings of its green campus construction are summarized; on the other hand, the impact of Stanford’s own green campus construction on the local community is discussed.Design/methodology/approach This paper takes Stanford, one of the best green campuses assessed by sustainability tracking, assessment and rating system (STARS), as a case study in three steps. First, it introduces the academics, energy supply and demand, water and land, waste, management, food and living, buildings and transportation of its campus construction in detail; second, it uses the STARS to make a comprehensive sustainable evaluation of Stanford; finally, it discusses the development relationship between Stanford and local community.Findings The four characteristics of its green campus development model are summarized, namely, based on its own scientific research; from the aspect of environmental friendliness; to achieve joint participation; and forming complementary development with the community. The construction of green campus has changed from a single triangle framework composed of SDGs, STARS and universities to a compound triangle framework composed of SDGs, universities and communities on the existing basis, greatly expanding the way to realize SDGs.Practical implications This development mode will have direct guiding significance for the sustainable construction of other campuses.Social implications This paper also discusses the development concept from green campus to sustainable community to provide positive reference to achieve the global SDGs from the perspective of colleges and universities.Originality/value According to the historical track of its development, this paper combines the two (SDGs and green campus) to discuss by using campus construction as an effective way to achieve the SDGs. On the basis of literature research and case study, STARS sustainable assessment is introduced. This will lead to quantitative analysis of sustainable construction in the discussion of the specific case, judging the specific sustainable degree of all aspects of campus construction, to provide a scientific basis for summarizing its characteristics of development mode.
Relevance for Complex Systems Knowledge
The study concerns the use of a university campus as a learning opportunity for sustainability. It considers the campus as a life system, resembling an urban context with social interactions and built environment. It provides opportunities to explore sustainable food supply systems and dwellings. The academic activities are integrating sustainability issues and climate change all over the disciplines from a holistic perspective. The University implements an energy systems innovation program to reduce on campus greenhouse gas emissions. A water conservation plan is implemented in line with the universities eco-system. The energy systems innovation program and the water conservation plan are linked to studies conducted by the universities faculty, in cooperation with the regional authorities. Furthermore there is a waste transition program engaging students, which highlights responsible sourcing as well as recycling. Buildings as well as modes of transportation are converted to more sustainable alternatives. To oversee this variety of sustainability practices the university management has been transformed to be more conducive to sustainability ideas. At the core of management is an evaluation system based on the sustainable development goals, with a complex setup of different to tools to monitor the areas mentioned above.

The University management setup as well as the scientifically based innovations and practices could serve as a model for the broader community, if closer cooperation with the local community  was enhanced.
Point of Strength
The strength of the article is that It shows how a campus can be considered as a model complex system for addressing the sustainability issues. Furthermore it invites for closer cooperation between the university and the campus sustainability practices with the local community. It stresses that the endogenous scientifically based innovations and the student participation is a strength.

 However, the article does not elaborate on how students are engaged and how the campus practices are included or integrated in the academic education activities. Despite this weakness, the article can serve as a inspiration for taking a holistic view on sustainability challenges at a campus.