The Sustainable Campus Observatory: A Comprehensive Framework for Benchmarking University Performance Toward Sustainability

  • Mathias BouckaertEmail author
Part of the World Sustainability Series book series (WSUSE)


This paper aims to address the lack of global assessment approaches for benchmarking the sustainable performance of higher education institutions. Such approaches are critical for universities wishing to analyse and improve their performance through the identification of best practices among their peers. Over the past several years, comparative assessment has become a central concern in the academe, especially with the introduction of global rankings. Beside rankings, two other broad categories of assessment can be differentiated: specific research projects and sustainability assessment frameworks. In a first step, a comparison of the 3 identified categories is undertaken on the basis of four criteria for success: relevance, measurability, holism and digestibility. We observe that while the three types of methods differ in their strengths, none of them manages to meet all the criteria. In a second step, we introduce a new assessment tool: the Sustainable Campus Observatory. Built on three pillars, i.e. institution’s missions, operations and external outreach, it proposes a benchmarking solution to university stakeholders wishing to identify areas for improvement. Lying at the intersection of existing evaluation practices, the Observatory integrates the multiple dimensions of sustainability in HEIs through a comprehensive framework that ensures intelligibility and comparability of results.


Assessment Benchmarking Sustainable development University Performance 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sustainable Campus Chair, REEDS LaboratoryUniversity of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-YvelinesGuyancourtFrance

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