While creating the Third-Century Sustainability Plan, the Sustainability Council has kept the following mission, vision, and guiding principles at the forefront of our decision-making process.


To promote educational opportunities, foster partnerships, provide leadership, and contribute practical solutions to advance environmental stewardship, social justice, and fiscal responsibility at Colgate University.


Colgate's sustainability program strives to:

  1. Enhance Colgate's liberal arts education by working with faculty and staff to integrate the concept and practice of sustainability into our curriculum.
  2. Promote a learning and working environment that is environmentally and socially conscious.
  3. Integrate sustainability into our operations, day-to-day practices, and into our built environment.
  4. Advance sustainability in the Central New York region through collaboration with local institutions, agencies, and individuals.

Guiding Principles to Advance Sustainability on Campus

Colgate’s guiding principles for sustainability were adopted in the 2011 Sustainability and Climate Action Plan and are updated in this plan. Today, they continue to serve as an important guide for day-to-day decision-making. The integration of Colgate’s guiding principles into our campus culture and mindset will allow us to collectively advance sustainability on campus.

  1. Foster opportunities that link the curriculum with operations in a way that supports Colgate's liberal arts education and gives students the opportunity to put sustainability theory into practice.
  2. Cultivate learning opportunities that engage students with the long-term social, environmental, and economic sustainability of Central New York.
  3. Promote a campus community that values cultural and ecological diversity.
  4. Provide a safe, healthy, and engaging work and living environment that fosters interaction, recreation, and education.
  5. Consider long-term impacts, lifecycle analyses, and integrated systems thinking in all our sustainability initiatives so that they consider holistically the interdependent issues of economic vitality, environmental quality, and social equity.
  6. Support new policies and programs that prioritize the efficient use of, and reduced demand for, energy and natural resource extraction.
  7. Consider end-of-life disposal and recycling options when making purchasing decisions. Take necessary precautions to prevent environmental pollution and unnecessary landfill waste.
  8. Consider life-cycle cost analysis, including social and environmental impacts, for our contracts, investments, and purchasing decisions.
  9. Promote fair and equal access to all sustainability programs throughout the university.
  10. Embrace and recognize the need to create open, safe, and welcoming spaces and programs that are inviting for all Colgate community members.
  11. Favor policy, purchasing, and operational decisions that exert a positive influence in our bioregion. This includes decisions that minimize environmental impacts, support healthy communities, maximize long- term value, and contribute to local and regional economic health.

Colgate's Sustainability Council embraces the three foundational pillars of sustainability: social, economic, and environmental. Sustainability at its core is a decision-making framework that considers how our programs and initiatives impact the diversity of people in our community, Colgate's finances, and our natural environment. For this reason, diversity, equity, and inclusion are fundamental to our campus sustainability approach and core guiding principles throughout this plan.

As we continue our journey towards a sustainable future, it is important to remain flexible and open to emerging technologies and new opportunities. As these opportunities present themselves, they should be evaluated using the following criteria:

  • Time horizon: how important is early success or is success over the long-term worth striving for?
  • Achievability: how likely is it that this goal can be attained?
  • Financial cost: what financial resources would be required to support the proposed initiative and where would potential sources of funding come from?
  • Community readiness: will various stakeholders support the proposed initiative or will it be unpopular or overly burdensome?
  • Impact: if achieved, will the goal have a significant influence or a marginal influence on Colgate’s overall sustainability profile?
  • Ease of implementation: will the work require a considerable investment of institutional time and energy? How technically difficult would the initiative be to implement?