Sustainability Office survey to help guide future on-campus efforts

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Sarah Cutshall | Visual Editor

Pitt’s Office of Sustainability is located in Benedum Hall.

By Mary Rose O'Donnell, Assistant News Editor

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Though most of the University’s community cannot be on campus currently, Pitt is still planning for the campus’ future — specifically how it can be more environmentally friendly.

The Office of Sustainability launched the Pitt Sustainability Literacy and Culture Survey on April 2 in order to evaluate the University community’s knowledge and understanding of the current sustainability efforts on campus. The original deadline to complete the survey was Friday, but the University has now extended it to April 24.

The survey takes about 10 to 15 minutes to complete and tests one’s knowledge of sustainability and environmental issues. It asks questions such as, “What are the three dimensions of sustainability?” and “Which of the following is a potential effect of global climate change?” — as well as how sustainable they think the University is. Those who complete the survey and enter their Pitt email address at the end can also win one of five $50 gift cards to the University Store on Fifth.

Aurora Sharrard, Pitt’s director of sustainability, said in addition to helping the Office of Sustainability understand the community’s knowledge of sustainability efforts, the results of this survey will also shape the future of sustainability at Pitt.

“We use the survey results to really help direct what our future evolutions and new offerings in sustainability are for the University community.” Sharrard said. “We also find that people have a lot to say and tell us about sustainability, and this is their opportunity to tell us what they’re thinking.” 

According to Sharrard, this survey is an iteration of a sustainability survey the office conducted in 2017. The Office of Sustainability used the results of the 2017 survey to create the Pitt Sustainability Plan in 2018. Staff in the Office worked together to develop this original survey and add questions regarding sustainability literacy and culture to the mix.

“We tried to pick literacy questions that we thought were scientifically relevant, not confusing and were true assessments of the underlying knowledge of the topics that we touch on,” she said.

Sharrard said she encourages all members of the University community to complete the Sustainability Literacy and Culture Survey, even if they feel they aren’t experts on the subject.

“This doesn’t necessarily mean people have to know what sustainability is,” she said. “We’re looking to get a representative sample across campus, not just those people who think sustainability first.”

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