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.

August 9, 2008 - 12:42pm
Thursday morning, on my way in to campus, I was listening to NPR. One of the items was an interview with consultant Howard Davidowitz, about the current state of the retail industry. No real surprises -- automobile and restaurant sales are down, off-price sales are strong, Wal-Mart is doing just fine, thank you. What struck my ear was Davidowitz's closing comment that the US standard of living was headed south for several years, at least. He said that like it was a bad thing.
August 7, 2008 - 9:24am
Greenback U. wants to get sustainable. So we've got a Sustainability Committee. They're supposed to come up with a Sustainability Policy. I guess they're committed to coming up with the policy -- after all, that's what "committee" means, right? That which (or who) is committed.If so, it doesn't show. The committee's been in place for over a year, with nary a policy (much less anything substantial) to show for it. They meet irregularly, they don't publish minutes, and attendance is hit-or-miss. If those are signs of commitment, I must be Queen of the May.
August 5, 2008 - 10:20am
First the good news. I've mentioned before that one of the main challenges in making renewable energy, particularly wind- and solar-powered generation, mainstream is the lack of a good electrical storage solution. A "better battery". Otherwise, it's hard to keep the computer running on dark, windless nights.
August 1, 2008 - 4:04pm
Reporter Jack Stripling has an article on green computing in today's edition. I don't know Jack. It's a pretty good article (not that I'm any judge). One minor nit, though, and a couple of things to add.
July 30, 2008 - 7:34pm
Yesterday, the 2009 edition of Princeton Review's 368 Best Colleges became available. For the first time, a major college guide includes "green scores" -- ratings on campus sustainability. The minimum score is a 60, the maximum a 99. (Schools which didn't respond to the Review's survey get a starred 60.)
July 29, 2008 - 1:20pm
When it comes time to create a campus sustainability plan, I'm not expecting to be able to limit my thinking to campus. It's not realistic to envision a sustainable campus amidst an unsustainable community, or an unsustainable region. (I had thought of titling this "no campus is an island", but there's currently an "X Files" movie in the theaters, and I don't think Hollywood's planning a remake of "For Whom the Bell Tolls" anytime soon. Want to stay culturally relevant, and all that.)
July 25, 2008 - 10:38am
I don't think this falls into the category of "reflection", but one thing strikes me as a result of information gathered at SCUP-43.California is requiring LEED Silver for all commercial buildings over 10,000 square feet. That's $3-5 million, depending. Harvard is at the point where it basically gets LEED Gold at no incremental up-front cost. Both LEED Silver and LEED Gold have proven to more than pay for themselves in energy savings.
July 23, 2008 - 1:45pm
To start off, a couple more points from the first session this morning, that I didn't have to to get to earlier.
July 23, 2008 - 9:46am
Up first this morning was Kevin Hydes, past president of USGBC, founder of the Canadian GBC, and current chair of the World GBC. If that weren't enough, he says he's not an expert in green building, and suggests you throw anyone who is an expert out of your office immediately. At best, we're all engaged in a "lifelong apprenticeship". To my mind, humility is convincing.
July 22, 2008 - 5:56pm
Two more sessions this afternoon. (Five today - long day.)The fourth session of the day was mostly BS. No need to go into specifics -- an 80% non-BS rate isn't bad at any conference.The last session, however, pulled together a lot of fragments, both from the earlier presentations and from life before SCUP. It was a panel on Developing Sustainable Master Plans, presented by a campus energy director and two reps from an engineering firm.A few of the key points:

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