Sustainable Campus Working Group has been established in October, 2014 and soon became a member of the International Sustainable Campus Network. In 2015, Koç University’s first data-based sustainability report (2013-2014 Koç University Sustainability Report) was produced, which will be followed this year with a report for year 2015. The Working Group then became a member of Sustainable Life TV.
Six pillars of a holistic approach to sustainability in universities are sustainable campus operations; sustainability in education and learning; social benefit; sustainability in research; campus community; and creating policies for sustainability. Sustainable Campus Working Group is currently focused on the first pillar, sustainable campus operations. Among water, energy, transportation, electricity, food and metal, paper was picked as the area for the group to work on as it’s one of the most important sources of consumption in a university and by that “Rethinking Paper in Campus” was formed as a body composed of faculty, employees and students.
Two workshops on “Sustainable Use of Paper” were organised with the participation of sustainability experts, school employees, students and faculty. The motivation behind the events was to determine Koç University’s vision for paper usage on campus and the prioritisation of the activities to be undertaken, thus creating a roadmap. The goal was and still is to become the university consuming least amount of paper with highly aware community of papers users in five years.
Next, five teams were created to plan and execute varied activities for implementing changes and raising awareness. Team one worked on getting time in the HR orientation and giving out mugs, Koç Academy Sustainability Trainings, incentives on less paper usage for departments, social media coverage in apps like Scorp. Team two worked on switching to online in course evaluation forms, allowing for online submission of course materials, creating electronic versions of course packs, setting up standards for printer usage and disseminating information throughout school. Team three worked on giving out best practices awards to paper friendly courses, adding alternative seminars for creating awareness towards paper usage to UNIV 101 (Koç University Freshman mandatory seminar course) and freshman student orientation as a medium to communicate Koç University’s vision at first interaction. The last team, number four, worked on opening a KU website on sustainability, picking a “Paper Awareness Day,” a guidebook for paper usage in campus activities, a guideline on printer usage for offices and students, transferring all on-campus announcement/event communication to social media and arranging for Cafe Nero and other coffewhops to give discounts for bringing mugs as well as planning for a “One World Challenge” game to reward earthly friendly activities undertaken by students through social media.
By the end of the fall term, with KUScop’s collaboration, a campus wide campaign of “Shake and Fold” for using only one paper towel was started as a pilot program where paper towel dispensers all around campus are display a graphic description on the “Shake and Fold” method. The impact of the campaign will be sought through numbers in the school’s ERP system by tracking the change in demand for and cost of paper towel. The campaign was first introduced in the KU Sustainability Festival 2016, where “Rethinking Paper in Campus” took a stand and infographics on printer usage and “One World Challenge” were first presented. The fall term was ended for the Sustainable Campus Working Group with extended work on the guidelines created for offices, student clubs, best practices and freshman orientation plans. The spring term will begin with an evaluation of the previous working year and the roadmap for the next.