Colleges and universities are paying more attention to sustainability

July 24, 2013
Survey from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education finds more institutions have established offices dedicated to campus sustainability

A growing number of higher-education campuses are creating sustainability offices on their campuses, a new survey says.

The report from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), “Salaries & Status of Sustainability Staff in Higher Education-2012,” found that 67 percent of respondents who work on sustainability issues at colleges and universities say their positions are part of a sustainability office; two years earlier, the percentage was just 23 percent.

The data is based on 462 responses to a 57-question survey from AASHE.

Other findings:

  • Full-time positions focused on sustainability are more common—85 percent of respondents said their jobs were full-time, compared with 74 percent two years earlier.
  • 90 percent of respondents say have been in their current positions for five years or less, and nearly half of 2012 respondents were in positions created or upgraded since 2010.
  • Educational attainment for sustainability officers appears to be on the rise; 65 percent of 2012 respondents say they have a master’s degree or higher in 2012, compared with 54 percent in 2010.
  • 84 percent of 2012 respondents say that their institution’s paid, non-student sustainability staff consisted of one to five full-time-equivalent positions, indicating “significant opportunities for continued growth in higher education,” the survey states.
  • 62 percent of 2012 respondents were women, not significantly different from the 59 percent figure in 2010. 44 percent of respondents work at institutions with 20,000 or more students; another 21 percent work at colleges or universities with between 10,000 and 20,000 students
  • Respondents with the title of Sustainability Director or Chief Sustainability Officer reported salaries that average $82,791 a year (a range of $29,120 to $165,000).
  • 50 percent of respondents say their biggest challenge in their jobs was “lack of time to get everything done.” Structural barriers was identified by 42 percent of respondents as a major problem, and lack of financial resources or security was seen as a major problem by 28 percent of respondents.

  Click here to see the entire report. (PDF file)

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