The Butler Way Guides Butler University to Substantial Sustainable Changes

On April 16th, 2012 Butler University President, James Danko, signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) in reflection of The Butler Way - Butler’s “long-standing commitment to selflessness and integrity.” The ACUPCC commitments are mapped out in the Butler Sustainability and Climate Action Plan (BUSCA) as a guideline as it grows and implements its new strategic plan, Butler 2020. The goal of the Butler Sustainability and Climate Action Plan is to achieve institutional climate neutrality by 2050 by mitigating campus greenhouse gas emissions associated with energy consumption of the university. The plan outlines current initiatives, strategies, and other goals set in place to reach the 2050 goal.

Some of Butler's major past initiatives include its two LEED Gold certified buildings (Howard L Schrott Center for the Arts and College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Addition) and recently completed LEED Silver renovations to the Historic Hinkle Fieldhouse. All new construction and major renovations moving forward must meet at minimum a LEED Silver standard. Gradually, motion sensor lighting is being implemented in rooms with infrequent occupancy and LED lighting is being given preference in all new projects.

In 2010, the Center for Urban Ecology (CUE) Farm was first planted on campus and it has since tripled in size, diversified its crops, and introduced bee houses to facilitate pollination. Produce harvested supplies Butler's dining services and is sold to community members and local restaurants in Indianapolis.

Strategies broken down into education, research, and outreach all support Butler University’s mission to have a commitment to high-quality education and creating a stimulating intellectual community. Education strategies include conducting a university-wide audit of courses to allow for modification of courses that could fit into either sustainability-focused or sustainability-related categories. A research strategy is to encourage further research at sites on campus that include the CUE Farm, the Butler biodiesel production laboratory, and the campus green roof by providing opportunities to present their research. Outreach strategies include revising Butler’s sustainability website to reflect current and future projects related to the initiatives and designing a sustainability newsletter to be published on a regular basis.

Sustainability goals outlined in the plan revolved around the topics of water, land use, waste, food, and purchasing. Each of these categories is broken into short and mid-term goals that are recognized as sustainable goals for which greenhouse gas emissions were not calculated as part of the BUSCA, but are goals for the betterment of the university as a whole. Some goals include replacing all fixtures with low or no-flow fixtures, decreasing the use of de-icers, pesticides, and fertilizers, implementing single-stream recycling, increasing real food (locally grown, environmentally beneficial, humane, and fairly traded) to 20 percent of total food purchased, and becoming a fair trade university.

As President James Danko was the first Indianapolis university president to sign the ACUPCC he set precedence for other universities in the state of Indiana to do the same. With the contributions of 25 students, faculty, and staff the BUSCA has set a clear path of sustainability for the future of the university that can be, and should be, admired and reflected in other universities across the state.

View the entire plan here.


Submitted by: Marisa Heiling SI2016 Intern Marisa Heiling is a political science and biology double major at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana and plans to attend law school after graduation to study environmental law. Contact her to talk more about what you are doing to live a more sustainable life.