Defining sustainability

We currently define sustainability at Marquette using an adaptation from the Brundtland Report's definition of sustainability development: meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This is a broad statement, but it basically boils down to preserving the earth’s and society’s resources so that future generations may live prosperously.  This definition is in wide use among other colleges and universities.    

We also adopted the concept of the triple bottom line to help visualize the goals of sustainability.  There are three components or “pillars” to the triple bottom line: social, economic, and environment.  The idea is to give equal weight to each pillar without excluding the others.  An example of an unsustainable path would be to focus entirely on profit while excluding social justice, social equity, and the environment.  Such a path leads to social and environmental degradation, thus inhibiting economic gains in the future.  A more sustainable path would be to seek profits while addressing and enhancing social equity and environmental regeneration, ensuring continued economic success in the future.  The triple bottom line concept is often used in the private sector to define sustainability.  The diagram below helps visualize sustainability using the triple bottom line. 


Why sustainability is important at Marquette

Colleges and universities have been working to become more sustainable for several years now. Institutions around the world are recognizing their impact on the world around us, both positively and negatively. The positive impacts include helping educate generation after generation to be thoughtful leaders and agents of positive change in the world while enhancing the community around us.  The negative aspects are that it takes a tremendous amount of resources to do so (energy, water, gasoline, paper, food, buildings, etc.).  Granted, these resources are necessary for students, faculty and staff to pursue their endeavors at Marquette, and we would not change that.  We simply aim to reduce those negative impacts while fostering the most productive atmosphere for the university and its stakeholders to achieve their missions and goals. 

Marquette's sustainability accolades

Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System: STARS

STARS is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. It was designed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education and is the most thorough and all-encompassing benchmark for campus sustainability to date. It incorporates the social justice/equity and economic aspects of sustainability in addition to the more usually benchmarked environmental aspects. Marquette completed and submitted its first STARS report in February 2013, earning a Silver rating.

The Princeton Review's Guide to Green Colleges

Marquette is proud to be included in The Princeton Review’s annual Guide to Green Colleges.  The Princeton Review produces the guide in collaboration with the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).  Marquette was chosen for demonstrating notable commitments to sustainability in academic offerings, campus infrastructure, activities and career preparation. 





Contact the Office of Sustainability

Is this site missing any information you would like to see? Is it missing your program or another program on campus that should be featured? Do you have suggestions for making Marquette a more sustainable university? If so, please contact us:

Phone: 414-288-1463