The topics in this section deal with campus greening policies and organizational goals and procedures.
On many campuses, an environmental committee has been appointed whose purpose is to identify and initiate improvements in environmental management. Such groups invariably have projects they need help with, and trying to start up a committee on your campus could be a project in itself.
Increasingly, colleges and universities are looking at the larger issues of long-term "green" planning and environmental sustainability, and much work is needed to shift toward these challenging goals.
A. PROJECT IDEAS
C. CASE EXAMPLES
Rutgers University—New Brunswick, NJ
Contracting for Environmental Improvement—In the past, vendors contracted to provide goods and services to Rutgers under standard business terms. That meant when they delivered their products to a loading dock, they drove away with no further thought about any associated wastes and hazards. Any environmental problems down the line would be the university's, not theirs. That business-as-usual approach cost Rutgers millions in handling and disposal costs—but no longer.
Kevin Lyons of Rutgers' Purchasing Division, has helped institute a whole new way of doing business on campus. Under the university's innovative Environmental Contract Management (ECM), all contracts now contain language requiring all vendors to help the university minimize waste and maximize environmental responsibility.
Using techniques such as life cycle analysis, Lyons has set up systems to track nearly all goods coming into and leaving the three Rutgers campuses. Before a contract is awarded, an agreement must be reached that stipulates the vendor's responsibility to minimize or remove wastes. Contracting under ECM ties directly into Rutgers' role in protecting the environment and educating environmentally literate citizens, and Lyons notes that contracts can reflect a university's values. Many students work with him and are on the lookout for new environmental opportunities.
To make environmental procurement policies cost-effective, Lyons also works with campus engineers and scientists to design products and systems that are better than conventional versions. He pioneered the use of reusable blankets for shipping office furniture, for example, significantly cutting the amount of cardboard used.
Source: Excerpt from Green Investment, Green Return: How Practical Conservation Projects Save Millions on America's Campuses, by David J. Eagan and Julian Keniry, 1998, p. 66.
University of Buffalo—Buffalo, NY
Multiple Campus Environmental Policies—In 1990 the Environmental Task Force (ETF) of the University at Buffalo (UB) was organized. One of its primary tasks was development of campus environmental policies. Generally, these policies were drafted and refined by the ETF in consultation with campus organizations and decision-making bodies. All policies became official campus policy when approved by either the UB President or Senior Vice President.
While these policies are a step in the right direction, implementation is another matter. Implementation relies on informed, voluntary cooperation by members of the University. Thus, implementation is uneven. We keep trying! Here are the policies that exist as of 1999:
A. PROJECT IDEAS
B. CASE EXAMPLES
University of Buffalo—Buffalo, NY
Environmental Task Force - In response to a student and faculty request, the University at Buffalo (UB) Environmental Task Force (ETF) was formed in 1990 by Senior Vice Present Robert Wagner with approval from the UB President. The original goals of the ETF were to:
Since 1990 the ETF has developed and obtained administrative approval for numerous campus environmental policies. The ETF has also conducted a variety of green campus projects and lent critical support to campus recycling and energy conservation efforts. Current concerns of the ETF include community oriented public service projects and campus-wide environmental awareness and eco-literacy. The ETF is comprised of about 25 staff, faculty and student members and receives strong support from University Facilities, especially the Facilities' UB Green Office.
The ETF generally has monthly meetings of the whole task force in addition to separate subcommittee or working group meetings. The Environmental Task force is always looking for new members and ideas. Meeting minutes are available online from 1994 to present.
University of Vermont—Burlington, VT
The UVM Environmental Council, a group of 16 faculty, staff, students, and alumni, meets monthly to explore questions such as: How can UVM further reduce its use of electricity? What pesticides are safe for landscaping? How can UVM raise money for trees lost in the January 1998 ice storm? What are the options for alternative fuel systems in vehicles? The Council invites staff to report on their departments' efforts and challenges in addressing environmentally related areas such as transportation, energy conservation, campus planning, and laboratory safety. Students give formal presentations on research and project ideas, including a student-run cafe featuring local, organic foods, and university farm and forest lands planning. Committees focus on defining best environmental practices in such areas as custodial cleaning products and electrical energy purchasing.
The Environmental Council's Goals for 1998 to 2000 are to work with others on campus to:
A. PROJECT IDEAS
C. CASE EXAMPLES
University of British Columbia—Vancouver, British Columbia
Campus Sustainability Office Offers a Bold Vision for the Future—The Campus Sustainability Office at the University of British Columbia aims to promote, coordinate, and implement the most effective sustainability practices, on campus and around the world. By harnessing UBC's immense physical and intellectual resources, they are working to bring positive solutions for today's ecological challenges closer. Their mission is:
Programs to develop sustainable levels of material flows, water and energy use, food consumption are in progress. And a vision of the campus as a "green" village in the year 2020 is offered.
Georgia Institute of Technology—Athens, GA
Sustainability a Major Theme in Curriculum and Campus Master Plan—Our worldviews, or mind-sets are shaped in part by what we experience in our daily lives. We believe that in order to advance our thinking—and our behavior—towards more sustainable practices, we need to practice them ourselves. Nothing kills a movement like hypocrisy among its leaders; students, faculty and staff know this, and so do our partners in the community. This isn't to say we will be perfect; it's part of the mind-set of sustainability that we will evolve towards a more sustainable state.
Our evolution will be guided by the Georgia Tech campus master plan, which was developed last year and built around the theme of sustainability. In fact, the "overarching vision" of the plan is that the Tech campus "should be a sustainable environment within which the use of land, design of facilities and methods and operation are conducted within established principles of sustainability."
Over the next 15 years, we will reduce the number of cars coming to our campus, make walking and cycling more appealing and convenient, and restore a natural area for stormwater management. Ambitious plans like these require strategic thinking if we are to become a more sustainable society. Hopefully our future will include energy conservation, smart sustainable design, and an expansion of the use of renewable forms of energy. Right now, Georgia Tech is home to one of the largest rooftop solar energy systems in the world.
Curriculum. Because we cannot give the impression that sustainability is something someone can elect to do, or that it is something that someone else should do, Georgia Tech is committed to a multi-year effort to transform the curriculum. In order to achieve our vision—that every graduate understands his or her role in creating a more sustainable society—we will move the concepts of sustainability into the core of the curriculum, into the required courses so that students' understanding of sustainability evolves with their understanding of their discipline.
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