As at all conventions, this one has a vendor showcase area. They call it the Idea Marketplace, although I always thought of the marketplace of ideas as more a metaphor than a specific location.
The exhibitors are the usual suspects -- architects, engineers, campus planning consultants, furniture and equipment vendors. As I observed at last year's conference, it's enough to convince a person that "college and university planning" is limited largely to campus planning. From SCUP's mission statement, however, it's clear that that's not the case.
Only one session this afternoon -- it was scheduled long and ran even longer. The presenter was John Tagg, an emeritus at Palomar College, and the announced topic was "Framing Change in Higher Education -- Why is it so difficult? How can we make it easier?"Well, doing sustainability work on campus is all about framing change. Or rather, it's about achieving change, and it's hard to do that successfully without framing the change you hope to accomplish. Or maybe the issue you hope to address, even if the outcome has to be left pretty flexible at first.
One of the first sessions this morning was a presentation on the USGBC's Portfolio Program. Titled "From Building-Centric to Campus-Wide", it addressed USGBC's efforts to facilitate initiatives which address sustainability issued more scaled to campuses than to individual buildings. Examples include green cleaning policies and practices, access to alternative transportation, and selection of sustainable building sites.
This article is one of those think-tanky pieces that manages to mix the correct, the nearly-correct, and the wildly wrong in a seemingly coherent gumbo of its own. (It's about the cost and productivity spiral in higher ed.) It's worth checking out, though not only for the reasons the authors intend.
That said, though, there's an undeniable kernel of truth to its statement that
Blogs are boring. Did you know? No less an authority than the Wall Street Journal has decreed it so; indeed, work-life balance blogs, like this one, are particularly boring. At least, that seemed to be where the above-referenced article began, with a side-swipe at the entire concept of a “national conversation” (especially one about something so potentially trivial, and certainly so elusive, as work-life balance).
One session this afternoon presented information from Michigan State U, and spoke to the need to correlate behavioral changes to reduce energy demand with operational changes to increase energy efficiency. While some of the early modeling pointed towards a 9% electricity savings potential among operations, behavior and technology taken separately, some of the early trial efforts are showing a 20% year-end reduction when evening and weekend classroom utilization is rationalized.
The opening plenary today was addressed by Jonathan Kozol – always an inspiration in terms of the value of education as opposed to training, and particularly relevant to education for sustainability (although he never uttered the word).
The air transport system in the USA (and probably in most other countries as well) isn't a good answer to the question of how to move people around. I spend yesterday on three different flights, getting from the East to the West Coast. Including the "sleeping with one eye open" night preceding (I had to leave the house at zero-dark-thirty) and the completely-exhausted night that followed, some 36 hours were invested (hence available) to get me from there to here. Figure it's 3000 miles (close enough) -- net travel speed was about 83 mph.