Higher Education Webinars

Getting to Green

An administrator pushes, on a shoestring budget, to move his university and the world toward a more sustainable equilibrium.

April 23, 2012 - 2:33pm
Last week, I happened to pick up an old issue of National Geographic Magazine.  The cover story was on Ireland which, at the time of publication, was ramping itself up into "Celtic Tiger" mode.  The writer was focusing on how the increase in industrial, commercial and financial activity was affecting more traditional social values.  The phrase that caught my attention was him wondering "what more efficient nations do will all the time they're so busy saving."
April 12, 2012 - 2:49pm
First, let me respond to David's request by posting a digital version of the hand-drawn sketch which is the working version of my current model of sustainability:
April 9, 2012 - 4:10pm
For a while now, I've been struggling with the concept of sustainability.  (That's not good, since moving the campus and the institution in a sustainable direction is what Greenback U is paying me to do.)  When I first got started in this job, I had a clear idea of what sustainability entailed.  The problem was global warming/climate change.  The solution was greenhouse gas reduction.  The job was to move Greenback towards lower and lower GHG emissions, so that it (and hundreds of its closest friends) could serve as models for the rest of Western Civilization.  But over the past five years or so, I've qualified and modified that understanding to the point that, at present, it seems to me that GHG emissions are but one aspect of the sustainability mess we're in, and probably not the one to emphasize.
April 2, 2012 - 9:00am
Years ago, I was talking to a man -- call him "Randy" -- who made his money selling mortgages. First, Randy's company originated them -- lent money to residential buyers so they could purchase their dream homes. Then he sold them to a consolidator who pooled many mortgages and used them as collateral for the issuance of securities. The difference between this man's behavior and the behaviors that led -- in large part -- to the crash of 2008 was that Randy took a moderately long view of his business.
March 28, 2012 - 2:40pm
According to a recent study by the city of Copenhagen, Denmark, if you ride your bike for a mile you contribute about 42 cents to the overall economy. By contrast, each mile you drive your car costs society about 20 cents. Combine the two, and driving has a net social cost of about 62 cents per mile compared to bicycling.
March 22, 2012 - 5:14pm
My evolving vision of a sustainable campus in a sustainable city includes university-connected mixed-use space around the campus edge(s). Key advantages of such space include minimizing the need for travel as well as making provision of energy-efficient travel/transit options far easier.
March 19, 2012 - 4:54pm
Of late, I've been thinking a lot about how campuses and their surrounding communities interrelate in ways that affect the sustainability (or lack thereof) of both.
March 18, 2012 - 3:31pm
Say the word "scope" to a campus sustainability wonk, and a specific frame of reference immediately takes over.  "Scope 1 vs. Scope 2 vs. Scope 3." The demarcation comes from greenhouse gas accounting or, more precisely, inventorying.
March 12, 2012 - 4:00pm
My earlier statement that campuses focus more effort on recycling than reduction and reuse combined doesn't mean that no campuses do anything to reduce or reuse.
March 11, 2012 - 4:34pm
As a campus sustainability wonk, let me say that the vast majority of the campus sustainability movement isn't serious. Which is not to say that most campus sustainability coordinators (or directors, or whatever) aren't serious about their jobs, or dedicated to the abstract idea of sustainability.  But that idea is often stated -- and so, understood -- only in vague terms.


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