• Getting to Green

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

Title

A (pro)portion of sense

When you've got a personality like mine, you get used to being alone. A lot. (Actually, it's kind of peaceful, once you get used to it.)

A recent iteration of solitude came as a result of charter signatories to the PCC filing (or not filing) their Climate Action Plans. What passes for mainstream media in this country, if they took notice at all, wrote the "higher ed screws up on sustainability -- just another instance of no accountability" story. I (more or less alone) was more upbeat. Of course, as of right now, any of us could be right. Or wrong.

September 21, 2009
 

When you've got a personality like mine, you get used to being alone. A lot. (Actually, it's kind of peaceful, once you get used to it.)

A recent iteration of solitude came as a result of charter signatories to the PCC filing (or not filing) their Climate Action Plans. What passes for mainstream media in this country, if they took notice at all, wrote the "higher ed screws up on sustainability -- just another instance of no accountability" story. I (more or less alone) was more upbeat. Of course, as of right now, any of us could be right. Or wrong.

But at least one early indicator should shorten the odds on yours truly. AASHE -- one of the three organizations which originated the PCC, has just announced their Campus Sustainability Leadership Awards. Four schools, in four different categories. All of them charter signatories. And guess what ... three of the four hadn't filed their CAPs as of this weekend!

Now, truth be told, only one school really missed the deadline. Two of the three were granted one-month extensions, probably to allow them to get over one last administrative hurdle. (Even more truth be told -- setting a Sept. 15 deadline for any sort of major decision/action on an American campus is a little self-defeating. Most academic years start in late August or very early September, and I pretty much kiss the first two weeks off in terms of being able to get stuff done on -- or with -- the academic side of the house.)

So, if three of the four winners didn't make the original deadline (or, depending on how you look at it, three of the many schools who didn't make the deadline turned out to be award winners), what does that mean?

It means that filing a report on time, especially when "on time" is somewhat arbitrary, might not be the most important thing a university or college can do to promote sustainability. Not that it's trivial, but there's a lot of room to maneuver north of "trivial".

A quick look at what NYU, UNH, Furman U or Butte College have done makes it clear why each of them was selected. (Not that other schools necessarily deserved to lose, but these four definitely deserved to win.) And, to put things in proportion, their selection as winners will be remembered long after their CAP filing date is forgotten.

Of course, the accomplishments that got them selected will be remembered, and will have beneficial effects, way longer than that.

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