Casarejos, F., Gustayson, L.M. & Frota, M.N. (2017) Higher education institutions in the United States: commitment and coherency to sustainability vis-a-vis dimensions of the institutional environment.Journal of Cleaner Production, 159, 74-84. DOI:10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.05.034 (IF2016 5,715; Q1 Green & Sustainable Science & Technology)
This work proposes a cohesive approach to assess the degree of commitment and institutional coherence of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the United States to address the challenges posed by sustainability. Taking into account the Administrative, Social & Cultural, Academic and Operational dimensions of their institutional environment, the conceptual framework proposes an assemblage of indices to measure the commitment, parity and institutional coherence of selected institutions to a set of sustainability actions conceived to reflect internationally established concepts and recommendations understood as the essentials of sustainability. A scrutiny of specific prominent metrics used to evaluate sustainability performance constituted the basic criteria to select the assessed institutions. Although the degree of commitment of these HEIs was ranked as High, the results reveal a concerning lack of adherence in their implementation of social and cultural activities aligned with the sustainability actions proposed. Also, a significant dissimilarity is identified in the degree of coherence for different categories of the stratified analysis. Addressing the environmental impacts that emerge from the ordinary operation of these institutions, the study also discusses the concerning level of consumption of water and energy, GHG emissions and waste generation.