Sustainability Summit

On September, 26th, the Office of Sustainability held their 3rd Annual Sustainability Summit. This was a great educational platform for students to attend and listen to professionals working to further sustainable efforts. The Summit kicked off with Abbie Eisenhart, Manager of Corporate Partnerships for Arbor Day Foundation, as a keynote speaker.

The Summit continued with a panel discussing sustainability in business and economics. The panelist were Lisa Conway with Interface, Kim Morrow with Verdis Group, Maggie Witt with UNL Procurement, Tom Culross with Conagra and Gage Mruz of Green Stain. The group was open with the challenges that they face when trying to be more sustainable. It concluded that most consumers are conflicted between what’s economic versus what is environmental. To be sustainable has the bias that it is more expensive, and businesses want the better deal when it comes to purchasing products.

How can these challenges be faced? Mruz said the human behavior around sustainability needs to be changed. This comes down to individuals being able to “walk the talk” and learning how to advise those that are unaware or unsure. Incorporating simple sustainable practices in your life can start to make a difference. The Office of Sustainability has been working to implement the 3Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle. This can be accomplished by consolidating department orders to reduce the number of packages, which lowers the University’s carbon footprint. In order to help this evolve, communication and education is key, which UNL Sustainability is working toward.

Supply Chain has the largest impact in sustainability and has the potential to make a large change in the way businesses work with suppliers. This is very important as a University to help in this change. In higher education institutions, 40 percent of the total emissions are a result from the supply chain.

The Procurement Services Team has individuals that are passionate about making an environmental change. Procurement has joined the Office of Sustainability’s efforts in trying to make a difference. Prabs Shrestha, Director of Sustainability, said, “Procurement Services can help us a lot in not only lowering our carbon footprint but also in ensuring that UNL is practicing what it is preaching to our younger generations.”

He continued, “UNL Procurement Services is also helping us significantly in meeting multiple United Nations Sustainable Development Goals like Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth; Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities; Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production.”

It is important Procurement Services continues with the efforts and assist with the communication and education of a sustainable campus. As the University is working to reach a Gold STARS rating (, it is important that Procurement continues to increase social progress through supplier diversity and seek out products that are in support of economic development.

Procurement is looking forward to the future and helping aid the efforts and continuing to refine the guideline for sustainable procurement. Prabs is looking forward to the future as well: “It is through an active and engaged community that we can really showcase our university to be leaders in this field. So, I really look forward to working with our Procurement Services team and campus community to communicate our goals and share resources to extend our campus forward in this direction.”