Peggy Bagnoli works in the Sector Strategies Division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C. She can be reached at; this is her first article for Facilities Manager.

The Sector Strategies Program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) works collaboratively with 12 sectors to improve environmental performance while reducing regulatory burden and providing an expert staff liaison for each sector in the program. Current sectors included in the program are construction, hospitals, and local governments, among others. The Sector Strategies Program is part of the National Center for Environmental Innovation at the U.S. EPA’s Office of Policy, Economics, and Innovations (OPEI).

On May 1, 2003, the Colleges and Universities Sector was selected to become one of eight new sector partners in the Sector Strategies Program. This partnership is an exciting opportunity for the U.S. EPA and colleges and universities to work together to achieve sector-wide environmental gains through innovative actions. The Sector Strategies national liaison works with six college and university national organizations to develop sector-specific approaches to assist colleges and universities in advancing the use of environmental management systems, reducing regulatory performance barriers, and measuring environmental progress.

Coordinating Committee

Six organizations have partnered with the U.S. EPA in the Colleges and Universities Sector program. Each partner has designated a sector contact. The sector contacts serve as the Coordinating Committee, with the Sector Strategies liaison and other EPA staff as technical advisors. The current committee members are:

Work Groups

In November 2003, the Coordinating Committee met in Washington, D.C., and formed three work groups to tailor efforts on the priority areas of the sector initiative: Environmental Management Systems (EMSs), Performance Measurement, and Regulatory Innovations. The work groups were formed to reflect the diverse nature of the Colleges and Universities Sector. Participating members are from nonprofit groups and colleges and universities of all sizes, both public and independent, with widespread geographic representation. The Sector Strategies liaison and other EPA staff serve as technical advisors to the work groups as well as the Coordinating Committee. More information on the College and University Sector can be found at

Three Priority Areas

The EMS Work Group:

Harvest Collier, University of Missouri-Rolla (Chair)

Environmental Management Systems represent a unique opportunity for colleges and universities to systematically manage their environmental impacts and future goals. The EMS Work Group developed a strategy to deliver EMS outreach tools, training resources, and support to promote the development of EMS on college and university campuses. The Group is focusing on strategies to address 1) colleges and universities with no previous consideration of implementing an EMS; 2) those that have made EMS considerations but require assistance; and 3) those that have already begun the EMS development and implementation process but could benefit from specific and more quantitative EMS strategies.

Work group members have recently developed two documents: a letter to college and university presidents/chancellors that promotes the implementation of EMS and encourages university presidents/chancellors to take actions to promote environmental stewardship within their organizations; and a one-page business case titled, “Environmental Management Systems (EMS): Continually Improving Performance.” This document was developed to raise awareness about the benefits of an EMS, and to share testimonials from universities that have realized many of these benefits. In addition, the EMS work group has recently established a national website designed to assist a wide range of colleges and universities with the planning and implementation phases of EMS development.

A number of colleges and universities have already begun EMS programs on their campuses, including:

For more information on this group, contact Harvest Collier at View the EMS website at

Performance Measurement Work Group:

David Wergin, University of Colorado-Boulder (Chair)

The Performance Measurement Work Group is currently exploring creative ways to measure sector-wide environmental and economic progress using performance indicators, success stories, and other tools. Currently, the work group is studying energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, hazardous waste, solid waste/recycling, and water use as key environmental performance indicators. The work group is gathering five years of retrospective data to explore the challenges of data collection and the potential value of the information.

The new performance measurement poster is available at and includes all of these measurements except energy use.

The work group is preparing a draft workbook for review and comment by a larger, more diverse group within the college and university sector.

Examples of colleges and universities currently measuring their environmental footprint:

For more information on this work group, contact Dave Wergin at

Regulatory Innovation Work Group:

Bill Diesslin, Iowa State University (Chair)

The Regulatory Innovations Work Group is currently focusing on the Resource Conservation Recovery Act (RCRA)/lab waste issues. The work group is preparing a business case to summarize and justify the need for regulatory reform for laboratories in the academic community. As needed, the group will continue to support the Coordinating Committee’s efforts to develop a proposal, strategy, and analysis for a RCRA/lab waste rulemaking. Upon completion of the RCRA project, future efforts will focus on other regulatory challenges such as the Clean Air Act or Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure requirements.

For more information on this group, contact Bill Diesslin at

To view position statements from the Colleges and Universities Sector Partners, visit the Campus Safety Health and Environmental Management Association at and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at

The three work groups and the Coordinating Committee held the Sector’s first in-person meeting in July 2004 in Chicago after the annual Campus Safety Health and Environmental Management Association conference. Each work group provided a brief overview of their goals and objectives and also provided the status of their activities. The second annual meeting of the Colleges and Universities Sector is tentatively scheduled for July 2005 in  hiladelphia, Pennsylvania.