Planning your capstone, paper, thesis or paper? You are looking for a student project that has impact. Below are some suggestions for sustainability research topics. This list focuses specifically on greening your campus. Your university can be more sustainable if you take the necessary steps.
Education is a topic of sustainability research:
Here are some sustainability research topics for education in sustainable development
– What is the difference between different definitions for sustainability education? What definition might your university adopt?
What extent has sustainability education been implemented into the university’s curriculum?
– What is the best and worst way to incorporate sustainability education into your curriculum?
What does your university’s sustainability education score against other higher education institutions?
What are the students’ needs for better, more sustainable education?
– What can be done to make sustainability projects on campus more educational, such as: Engineering classes will include a visit to solar cells on rooftops.
– What definition should your university adopt for sustainability research?
– How much sustainability research is your university already doing?
– How does the institution’s sustainability portfolio compare to other higher education institutions?
– What are your university’s main drivers and obstacles to sustainability research?
How could sustainability research assist students in studying sustainability issues on campus?
– What costs and opportunities are associated with the promotion of sustainability research? What is a strategy for advancing sustainability research?
A group of people who share a common trait or interest.
Here are some topics in sustainability research that focus on awareness and engagement of the community.
– How do students and employees perceive sustainability and their attitudes?
What can students do to encourage sustainable living?
Do students and employees know the UN Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs?
How informed are students, staff and faculty about sustainability goals of their institution?
– Which approaches are more effective in communicating the university’s sustainability initiatives?
– How can students and staff be involved in sustainability initiatives at the university?
What are some ways to increase campus engagement, such as by organizing sustainability events?
Find inspiration in our post about 10 ways to get students involved with the SDGs.
For research papers about sustainability, explore these topics:
What are the potential and cost of building insulation improvements to save electricity?
Which lighting systems are more efficient than others on the market?
What would the business case be for installing new lighting?
– Which campus is the largest energy consumer?
– What new energy technologies have you seen developed at your institution? How could they be tested and installed in buildings?
– What lux value is sufficient to light study or work areas?
– What is the strength and weakness of each sustainable building standard?
– What building codes would best be used to inform an institution’s sustainable development policy?
– What are some of the benefits and costs associated to different types o green roofs?
Which buildings are suitable for green roofs?
Providing food and drink for an event
What extent is catering and food products certified organic or fair-trade food?
What do students think about fair trade and organic products in cafeterias?
– What can students and employees do to be more aware about the many benefits of sustainable food – e.g. Health, environment and economics – sustainable, fair traded, local food.
What are the prices students will pay to get organic or fair-trade products?
– Who produces what type and how much waste at which institution?
– How has waste stream development changed over the years?
What innovative ways can we reduce waste going to landfills or incineration? These could be used in a variety of ways.
What are the benefits and costs of waste recycling?
Piece of paper
What alternatives exist for switching from paper-based methods of working to digital ones?
– What are the economic, social, and environmental benefits of various options for digital learning and working?
Campus operations include more sustainability topics:
Varied species of animals and plants in a particular habitat.
– Which species can be found on different campuses?
What extent do students, faculty, staff and others value biodiversity?
– What can be done to increase campus biodiversity?
– What are some of the benefits and drawbacks of different GHG accounting methods?
– What standard should an institution use to create a GHG emissions inventory
– What are the GHG emissions at the institution?
– How big is your institution’s footprint in GHG?
Acquisition of goods and services
What does sustainable procuring mean for universities?
– How are procurement arrangements currently organized? What extent do sustainability criteria currently apply to tenders in the current procurement system?
– In what ways could universities implement sustainability criteria beyond what is legally required to increase the economic, social and environmental benefits of tenders?
Which are the biggest water consumers?
– What are the indirect and direct water footprints of the institution?
– What are the cost and potential benefits of water conservation?
Mobility and transportation
– How does the university currently transport staff and students?
– What is their environmental impact? How can we reduce this impact?
– What best practices are there among higher education institutions and companies to reduce employee travel?
Change in behaviour
– How can we reduce our resource consumption by changing our behaviour?
– What are some of the best methods for behaviour change at higher education institutions?
– To what extent can these projects also be applied to your university?
Sustainability research topics regarding governance, strategy, reporting and management
Governance issues are a topic of sustainability research:
What does sustainability look like for higher education institutions?
What is a complete concept for a sustainable institution of higher learning?
How can the university achieve its long-term sustainability vision? What roadmap could be used to realize this vision?
What innovative approaches can universities use to create sustainability strategies?
What ethical imperatives would it be for higher education institutions in the United States to consider their effect on the environment, society and profit?
What are the responsibilities that higher education institutions have to help address global challenges like climate change, poverty, gender inequality, or gender disparity?
Supervising and providing feedback
What data are necessary to track the institution’s impact on the environment? What data can be collected and how can they be analysed?
– What is the difference between sustainability reporting standards?
– To what sustainability reporting standards should a university conform?
– How can you organize your organization’s sustainability reporting efficiently?
How can students and staff communicate the results of their work?
– Which methodologies are most effective and which have the greatest weaknesses (e.g. Payback (or Net present value) to calculate financial costs and benefits from sustainability investments.
– Which method should the institution adopt?
What extent can sustainability projects be funded through a revolving lending fund?
What opportunities are there to include outside organizations in energy contracting?
What subsidies are available at European, National and City levels for the development of a green campus?
– How can the university make use of these financing options in order to accelerate its energy transition?
– What methods can be used to include externalities that are not accounting related in university accounting plans?
– What are some of the potential benefits, risks and rewards associated with the establishment of an energy company owned university-owned?
What are the best financial practices for funding energy efficiency and renewable energy projects within public institutions worldwide?
– What incentive programs can be modified so that energy end-users directly reap the benefits of a reduction in energy consumption?
We hope you found this list inspiring to research a topic related to sustainability.