An Analysis of Sustainable Operations in Universities

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Author: Lee, Wendy
Sustainable university operations must match a university’s sustainability reputation. This analysis of a university’s operations assesses the drivers for operations to determine the value that operations units can bring to support long-term sustainability goals of the university.The paper first defines economic sustainability as the dimension where operations can have the most impact. University operations units are internal infrastructure customised value creation systems. For these operations units to support sustainability strategic goals, they must shift their focus from pure economic (cost) efficiency to include social efficiency. In lean departments with low policy and fiscal autonomy, operational units must also align sustainability initiatives with institutional-wide goals. New skillsets and human capital will be required to support an external focused strategic orientation.The paper examines the intangible resources within a facilities operations unit, and recommends the best fit of technical skills and resources with institutional sustainability goals. Of several strategic options evaluated, the paper recommends forming a Sustainability Operations Alliance. This Alliance can provide a strategic framework for collaboration across departments, while allowing the operations unit the flexibility to apply its core strengths and skills to implement the best sustainable technologies. The paper concludes by proposing collaborative initiatives that benefits sustainability university-wide.
EMBA Project-Simon Fraser University
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