The Rebel CAP core team thanks students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members at large who have contributed and reviewed ideas and suggestions for our climate action plan so far. In the upcoming months, we will finalize recommendations, prioritize those that have the greatest chances for impact, and incorporate them into a draft Rebel CAP. Once approved by the president’s cabinet, we'll socialize this draft as the last step in the process before releasing the final Rebel CAP.

Academics & Research

Incorporating sustainability and climate change into undergraduate education is essential for preparing students to address the complex challenges of the 21st century, fostering a sense of responsibility, and ensuring that the future workforce is equipped with the knowledge and skills needed for a sustainable and resilient future.

Note: This requirement may simultaneously satisfy other general education requirements. Changing part of the undergraduate core curriculum may need NSHE approval.

Requirement Aims

  • Equip students with a comprehensive understanding of sustainability's social, ecological, and economic dimensions.
  • Develop critical thinking skills
  • Become adept at analyzing and addressing multifaceted sustainability problems.

The institute would explore being a grant-funding body for internal sustainability and climate action academic and research projects.

Institute Operations and Features

  • A faculty fellow or director position would manage the institute
  • The institute would house a Faculty Learning Community program. This would be an annual faculty think tank focused on moving an idea to action within a single academic year (one semester of research/one semester for implementation) to further the mission of the Institute.

A governing body will keep an accurate, up-to-date inventory to monitor progress on sustainable academics and research. The inventory may also serve as a subject matter expert database for communicators. If a sustainability institute exists, this inventory would be housed under the institute.

Inventory Items

  • Courses related to sustainability and climate action (by college, department, division, etc.)
  • Faculty teaching or researching sustainability and climate-related courses
  • Faculty with an academic background in sustainability or climate action and their contact information

Efforts to enhance our university’s educational programming include:

  • Establishing comprehensive sustainability and climate change degree programs
  • Registering with the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) Program
  • Promoting our campus as a living laboratory
  • Providing offer hands-on interdisciplinary learning opportunities

Degree Program Aims and Examples

The sustainability and climate change degree programs encompass various disciplines to address the multifaceted challenges of our changing environment. Examples include:

  • Bachelor's degree in sustainable studies or climate science. This degree could integrate courses in environmental science, renewable energy, policy analysis, and sustainable business practices.
  • Master's program in climate and sustainability management that includes specialized areas such as climate policy, environmental economics, and sustainable development.
  • Doctoral program in climate and sustainability sciences that could focus on advanced research methodologies and the development of innovative technologies. This program can produce experts who contribute to academic discourse and lead groundbreaking initiatives.

Benefits of Registering With the STARS Program

Registering with the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) program will allow UNLV to track sustainability efforts, engage the community, create a baseline for continuous improvement, and integrate sustainability into teaching, learning, and research.

How to Promote Our Campus as a Living Laboratory

Utilize UNLV’s infrastructure and operations as living environments for multidisciplinary learning and applied research that advances sustainability on campus.

Aims for Hands-On Interdisciplinary Learning Opportunities

Interdisciplinary research opportunities, practical fieldwork, and collaboration with industry partners would be key components of these programs, ensuring students gain hands-on experience and contribute to cutting-edge solutions.

Buildings and Energy

These processes typically involve a detailed analysis of various aspects of a building's energy usage, including the performance of HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems, lighting, insulation, and the overall building envelope. They are crucial for organizations and institutions looking to align with energy efficiency goals, environmental sustainability initiatives, and climate action objectives.

This process is crucial for organizations and institutions looking to align with energy efficiency goals, environmental sustainability initiatives, and climate action objectives.

Assessment Phase Outcomes

  • Data collection
  • Energy benchmarking
  • Thorough examination of the building's systems and components.
  • Identify areas where energy is used inefficiently or upgrades that could lead to significant energy savings.

Audit Phase Outcomes

Energy audits may be conducted by internal teams or external professionals with expertise in building energy efficiency. The audit will result in the following:

  • In-depth investigation, including energy modeling, to quantify potential energy savings and prioritize recommendations.
  • Actionable recommendations for optimizing energy use, reducing operational costs, and enhancing the sustainability of buildings.

These processes typically involve a detailed analysis of the existing energy generation systems onsite which are currently limited to rooftop solar arrays and emergency power generation plants. This will allow us to Identify opportunities for improving energy generation efficiency and installing additional renewable energy generation and energy storage systems.

Like the building energy assessment and audit, this process is crucial for organizations and institutions looking to align with energy efficiency goals, environmental sustainability initiatives, and, as mentioned earlier, climate action objectives.

Assessment Phase Outcomes

  • Data collection
  • Energy benchmarking
  • Thorough thorough examination of the energy generation systems and components
  • Identify areas where energy is being generated inefficiently or where upgrades could lead to significant energy generation.

Audit Phase Outcomes

Energy audits may be conducted by internal teams or external professionals with expertise in building energy efficiency. The audit will result in the following:

  • A more in-depth investigation, often including energy modeling, to quantify potential energy savings and prioritize recommendations
  • Actionable recommendations for optimizing energy generation, reducing operational costs, and installing additional renewable energy generation and energy storage systems

Regularly post building use data to the UNLV websites for research and academic purposes. Data will be accompanied by an explanation of how it was obtained and estimated uncertainties (e.g., kWh usage on a given day).

The advanced energy management system should be equipped with real-time monitoring and reporting capabilities. This will enable proactive decision-making, optimize energy efficiency, and foster a continuous commitment to sustainability and carbon neutrality.

Additional System Requirements

  • Integrate with smart meters, sensors, and renewable energy sources
  • Provide a comprehensive and up-to-the-minute overview of energy consumption patterns, renewable energy generation, and associated CO2 emissions
  • Establish clear performance benchmarks and key performance indicators to assess the effectiveness of energy-saving initiatives

Based on the outcome of the building audits, implement energy conservation measures that reduce building energy use intensity. Potential measures include:

  • LED upgrades (including outdoor lighting and elevators)
  • HVAC upgrades (such as converting constant volume systems to variable air volume systems)
  • The addition of door and window sensors
  • Data center optimization projects
  • Central plant upgrades.

Upon an approved application with the Nevada Public Service Commission, UNLV will gain retail access to electricity and purchase power on the open wholesale market and/or contract with a firm to purchase renewable energy. We could launch this process and harness community support (and not start from zero) by working with select casino(s) that are currently utilizing retail access to electricity (e.g., MGM Grand).

Efforts will reduce dependence on outside energy purchases and increase the amount of renewable energy used on our campuses. Potential actions include:

  • Adding rooftop solar panels with battery storage to fully harness the energy available from an average of 300 sunny days a year.
  • Installing solar-powered covered walkways in areas that are most exposed to the sun (e.g., walking paths from the residence halls to the Student Union or classrooms, or from the parking garages to opposite ends of the Maryland Campus).
  • Increasing onsite renewable energy sources and energy storage is vital to maximize the continued use of solar energy during evenings and other times when solar capacity is reduced.

Create informational documents that are specifically targeted to their appropriate audience. The information should be easily digestible, displayed in buildings frequented by the public, and translated in multiple languages, when possible.

Content for Informational Documents

The informational documents that display some or all of the following:

  • Data collected detailing on-campus energy consumption and, where possible, ways individuals can help improve conditions
  • Energy conservation efforts, including impacts to the UNLV community, UNLV physical campus/space, and the larger Las Vegas/Clark County region
  • Guidance for making steps toward energy conservation on campus and at home
  • Data/research from UNLV students, faculty, and staff that centers on energy conservation tips, general conservation knowledge, and community initiatives that will better inform the community of trends and realities of energy consumption/needs that impact the Las Vegas/Clark County region

The established code should Exceed the State of Nevada minimum requirement (LEED Silver) in the design and construction of all public works on campus by achieving Gold or Platinum status.

The code should also Comply with energy codes and standards required by the State. This includes the latest edition of the NRS 701.220, NAC 701.185 (R-153-17AP), NAC 701.195-NAC 701.245, Rulemaking and adoption: presently July 28, 2021 adoption notice, ASHRAE Standard 90.1, and the IECC, ISO 50001 (for energy management onsite) and additional EV requirements and disclosure standards.

This implementation will include the following:

  • Installing additional building meters to ensure that energy consumption is tracked at a building level throughout campus.
  • Identifying opportunities to install additional building automation controls to maximize performance monitoring in buildings that are the highest energy consumers.
  • Installing a comprehensive energy management system to track energy consumption data at the UNLV campus.

The Green Labs Program will recognize research faculty and staff who follow sustainable practices within their laboratories and facilities. Green Labs will follow best practices for energy, water, and waste., and they will also develop projects to reduce energy including ultra-low temperature freezer upgrades, fume hood upgrades, and sash sensors.

Green Procurement and Policies

The Office of Sustainability will be responsible for the following:

  • Overseeing the implementation and oversight of the Rebel CAP
  • Acting as a clearing house for all efforts related to sustainability occurring in Clark County, and therefore encouraging partnerships and avoiding the, and duplication of efforts.
  • Participating in creating all major contracts such as the one that provides food service (ex. official food service vendor contract).
  • Institutionalizing the creation and submission of annual reports to the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, managed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Education.

By joining the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council (SPLC), we will be able to do the following:

  • Support the enhancement of our sustainable procurement program to ensure it delivers measurable, meaningful impact.
  • Leverage their procurement for positive environmental and social benefits through coaching, peer learning groups, in-person summits, etc.
  • Collaborate with peers and leaders across the value chain to innovate, aggregate demand, and amplify impact.

The sustainable investing policy will integrate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into the investment decision-making and management processes. ESG factors consider a material impact on the financial performance of an investment, as well as the environmental and social outcomes of the investment. This results in the alignment of investment practices with its sustainability values.

Additional Focus Areas

  • Engage with external managers responsible for managing UNLV’s endowment funds on their sustainable investing practices.
  • Set expectations for Expect the external managers to consider relevant ESG factors in the portfolio analysis and monitoring, and to have a willingness to dialogue with employees on sustainability issues.
  • Evaluate external managers on their performance based on their ESG integration and impact and reward those who demonstrate leadership and innovation in sustainable investing.
  • Communicate the sustainable investing policy and practices to all shareholders.

Identify space for college programs to store supplies so they can be reused rather than disposed of after events (e.g., course supplies, theater sets, etc.).

Efforts will include providing food waste education, creating workshops, updating the Sustainable Purchasing Program page, and changing verbiage on the UNLV Dining Sustainability page.

Education Effort Details

  • Food waste education: Prevent food waste by informing UNLV and its community about the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act of 1996 (42 U.S. Code § 1791) which provides limited liability protection for people who make good-faith donations of food and grocery products to nonprofits that feed the hungry. The act also provides limited liability protection, both civil and criminal, for those who distribute food and groceries, such as food banks.
  • Workshop creation: Create workshops for campus departments to learn how to select products and services (i.e., those not required to go through the bid process) that align with our Rebel CAP goals.
  • Updates to the Sustainable Purchasing Program page: Include new purchasing policy, verbiage related to sustainability in RFPs, what is tracked, etc.
  • Changes to the UNLV Dining Sustainability page: Include more specific language.

Items will include equipment, appliances, and instrumentation. This effort will also Identify departments currently using older equipment and appliances and help them replace this equipment with energy-efficient items.

Improved Communication Efforts

  • Allow students to opt-in to text message notifications that let them know when food left from events is available for free.
  • Make aspects of UNLV’s contract with the campus food vendor related to sustainability transparent on our webpage.
  • Work with the campus food vendor to add sustainability-related verbiage to customer surveys.
  • Work with UNLV’s social media team to share the surveys and encourage respondents to address their preferences for plant-based food offerings.

Request Campus Food Vendor Data

  • Request the data the campus food vendor tracks related to sustainable choices made to supply food services at UNLV. For example, purchases from small and diverse business owners, food purchased directly from farms, the percentage of meals served that are plant-based, etc.
  • Request the same for the companies the campus food vendor contracts with to provide food services to UNLV.

Impose Sustainability Requirements to Campus Food Venues

  • Require all food venues on campus to use reusable or compostable utensils and food containers.
  • Require all food venues on campus to allow customers to use their own refillable cups and food containers for their purchases. These containers could be distributed as UNLV swag items.
  • Prohibit plastic bags and styrofoam food and beverage containers in all food service establishments.

Create Partnerships and Obtain Certifications

These enhancements will include the following:

  • Provide professors with best practice guides and technical bulletins that include information on energy-efficient and sustainable laboratory operations. These resources are available from the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories.
  • Combining laboratory safety inspections with sustainability audits. The biosafety/chemical hygiene officer could partner with a professional in the Office of Sustainability to create related policies and procedures, and the laboratory inspections could be performed at the same time.
  • Having professors align their laboratories with the My Green Lab programs in support of the Rebel CAP sustainability goals.
  • Achieving Green Lab Certification.

Effort will include the following:

  • Purchasing smart devices to reduce phantom loads.
  • Promoting best practices for e-waste disposal and opportunities for students, faculty, staff, and community members to participate in e-waste recycling events.
  • When possible, using EPEAT Climate+ registered products, which meet criteria that indicate that they have a limited impact on climate change. These criteria are based on the lifecycle impact of electronic products. The EPEAT Climate+ designation is used for products that can be independently verified against these criteria.
  • Installing smart room equipment to regulate energy use.

Our Social Sustainability and Supplier Inclusion program promotes the inclusion of diverse suppliers. Those suppliers, and their larger corporate counterparts, are required to provide the university with green alternatives to commonly used products and are highly encouraged to introduce innovative green solutions based on our requirements.

Proposed Enhancements

  • Add language to contract templates that reflects our goal to engage with suppliers who are environmentally responsible and diverse in ownership.
  • Require a sustainability statement from service vendors when submitting a proposed contract, bid, and RFP. Offer preferable consideration on contracts, bids, and RFPs to firms submitting viable, cost-effective, environmentally responsible responses.
  • During the upcoming and future bids and RFPs for transportation services, explore additional options or efforts suppliers are making to provide carbon-neutral services. Understanding the current status and direction of the transportation services industry can help inform future procedures and considerations when contracting these services.
  • Publish comprehensive information on our website to assist vendors in complying with UNLV’s sustainability policies.

Improvements will include the following:

  • Instating an institution-wide policies to:
    • Purchase cleaning products with a Green Seal (tm) or EcoLogo (tm) certification.
    • Purchase all paper, timber, and card products that are deforestation-free by purchasing only 100% Recycled or FSC-certified goods when technologically compatible.
  • Sourcing supplies in plastic containers that Republic Services is able to recycle or sell.
    • For example, #1 polyethylene terephthalate (PET), #2 high-density polyethylene (HDPE), and #5 polypropylene (PP), can often be recycled due to durable end markets.
  • Exploring reusable items for UNLV swag.
  • Reviewing purchasing categories to ensure similar items are being tracked reliably. This will enhance the data quality needed for tracking green purchasing practices.
  • Tracking and evaluating all small dollar purchases. The purchasing group provides units with examples of common purchases that have advantages relating to their sustainability.
  • Bundling small department/unit purchases at the university level. This effort will lead to volume discounts and the potential for requiring more sustainable choices.
  • Having a purchasing task force for each department that will create internal policies for purchasing small dollar items that have sustainability-related advantages.

Stewardship and Climate Justice

  • Examine recommendations from all six working groups to ensure that a climate justice and equity lens is applied to each recommendation.
  • Create a marketing campaign to inform underserved communities about the Recycling Center and its Drive Up/Drop Off (DUDO) services.

  • Develop presentations about the Rebel CAP to share with various student organizations to foster conversation about the plan and seek perspectives from our diverse student body.
  • Encourage engagement from students and equitable representation of students in outreach, administration, and educational efforts associated with Rebel CAP.

Sustainable Transportation

Efforts will include:

  • Expanding bike locker installations throughout campus to increase safety for bike riders and encourage increased use of alternative forms of travel on campus.
  • Implementing a bike path around campus to promote bicycle and scooter usage while increasing pedestrian safety through proper signage and segmentation of intracampus traffic.

Work with RTC to increase the number of campus community members who can use the RTC’s U-Pass Program. These enhancements will include discussions about:

  • The feasibility of a Park-and-Ride Shuttle service to UNLV
  • Increasing bus routes to campus to encompass all parts of the city.

Continue working with Nevada Energy to take advantage of their various incentive programs to increase the number of electric charging stations on campus.


  • Identify other funding sources to help mitigate the costs of future installations.
  • Continue to install updated infrastructure when required.
  • When projects like new parking lot construction or modifications are budgeted for, installing the EV infrastructure should be considered.

This park-and-ride shuttle program will allow commuters to park their vehicles at strategically selected locations around the city and board a shuttle that will take them directly to UNLV.

Shuttle Operations and Features

  • Shuttles will run on a set schedule so that commuters can conveniently be returned to their vehicles when campus business has been completed.
  • Shuttle service locations will be equipped with secure bike lockers/cages for patrons utilizing the service.

Waste Management

Efforts will include the following:

  • Developing an outreach program to educate the campus community through events and focused campaigns about waste reduction initiatives (toner cartridge recycling, source reduction, clean and dry recycling habits, etc.)
  • Creating a social media account to engage the campus community; educate the general public about waste management and waste management efforts at UNLV; and promote sustainability in real-time including national observance days, Earth Month, and other campus events
  • Starting waste management-related competitions to increase participation and education.
  • Standardizing bin signage and labels in the indoor and outdoor spaces.

Improvement efforts will include the following:

  • Commissioning a diverse and empowered Zero Waste committee, composed of faculty, staff, and students, to focus on developing cost-effective, accurate, and sustainable ways to document the amount and types of waste leaving the campus and
    • This committee will write a Zero Waste Strategic Plan to divert and reduce those waste streams.
  • Establishing a data collection protocol for tracking volumes of waste minimization, waste diversion, and waste disposal, and issuing annual reports on findings.
  • Establishing waste minimization and waste diversion goals. These should be broad and specific to each university's waste minimization and diversion program. Set a Zero Waste goal that aligns with the goals of UNLV Rebel CAP.
  • Educating the campus about zero waste and the role each unit plays in accomplishing the goals.
  • Hiring a Zero Waste Manager, and the appropriate support staff, to help guide waste decisions across campus. This new role would oversee student-facing Zero Waste programming and institutional sustainability efforts such as developing Zero Waste training for staff and coordinating zero waste events.
  • Expanding waste auditing to capture data at the building level. By expanding and standardizing auditing practices, the University can identify areas of improvement.
  • Expanding construction and demolition waste recycling, food waste diversion, and municipal solid waste recycling.
  • Exploring ways to reduce the sale of single-use, non-recyclable, and recyclable plastic products on campus.
  • Establishing the best means of reducing the toxicity of the waste stream generally associated with the use of refrigerants and lab waste.
  • Reducing campus food waste.
  • Expanding current composting and recycling infrastructure and operations so that UNLV can increase waste diversion. This would require that post-consumer composting is available in all buildings, including educational spaces, dorms, office kitchens, etc.
  • Making special events (from small to large) strive for a zero-waste setup and operation.
  • Making purchasing decisions with disposal options in mind.

Expansion and standardization efforts will include:

  • Expanding the number of outdoor recycling bins and increasing staff to handle additional bin collection.
    • Communicative bins, such as BigBelly, would allow the current staff to likely maintain collection at additional bin locations or sustain daily communication with Grounds staff. The most efficient and effective method would be for Grounds to empty the bins and bring the clear or light-colored bags to the recycling center.
  • Working with the custodial team to pilot recycling bins in classrooms.

Water Resource Management

Data tracking and metering will allow us to do the following:

  • Identify areas of continued high water consumption.
  • Locate undocumented portions of UNLV’s water delivery network, including pipes, nodes, and valves to support sub-meter installations.
  • Obtain funding to support equipment that generates pipe location date information that can be integrated into UNLV’s data systems.
  • Implement a survey to locate current water leaks in the distribution system and within buildings.
  • Communicate and share UNLV’s most recent water audit with planners to identify areas with the most feasible, cost-effective conserving steps (for example, reduction of water leaks).

We will continue UNLV’s efforts to replace non-functional high-water turf grass with low-water use vegetative round covers by doing the following:

  • Engage with UNLV’s Alison Sloat on possible ways in which UNLV can participate as either a research site or a test implementation site for Sloat’s $5 Million urban forest initiative.
  • Obtain additional outside expert engagement and advice through scheduled campus meetings with individuals who have the appropriate expertise, such as:
    • SNWA’s Kent Sovocool, who has expertise in landscape irrigation conservation and water-conserving technologies,
    • UNLV’s Dale Devitt, who has expertise in water conservation for landscape irrigation, especially turf,
    • UNLV’s Landscape Architecture faculty,
    • City of Las Vegas’ staff implementing their urban tree program.
    • Springs Preserve staff
    • Norm Schilling of Schilling Horticulture
    • Dr. Fred Landau (retired UNLV Life Sciences professor).

Schedule a meeting with SNWA to evaluate the potential to obtain subsidies to replace cooling towers and install climate-appropriate (native) shade trees.