Resource Flows and Campus Ecology

The operation of educational institutions in ways that undermine the future of the students we purport to educate cannot be justified. As learning organizations, colleges and universities would monitor their environmental impacts and amend their operational guidelines in order to eliminate pollution, carbon dioxide emissions, and toxic chemicals, and support the emergence of sustainable local economies. Construction and building renovation would conform to the highest standards possible. Other standards for the purchase of materials, food, and energy, as well as landscaping and investment are being tested by the Campus Ecology Program of the National Wildlife Federation. The aim is to develop rating systems similar to that of U.S. News and World Report to appraise the environmental performance of colleges and universities. The implementation of these standards will require changes in plant management and operations, including systems to provide prompt and accurate feedback about all environmental impacts relating to energy use, materials flows, water consumption, landscape management, and waste cycling. Reducing energy consumption and beginning the transition to solar energy, for example, requires metering energy use so that everyone on the campus has quick feedback on what they consume along with consistent incentives to conserve. Further, upgrading buildings to high-performance standards is rather like going from typewriters to notebook computers. One needs periodic maintenance; the other needs regular software upgrades and hardware changes. One stands alone; the other is networked to a global information system. In other words, the management of high-performance buildings requires a higher level of professional skill, and the capability to manage and upgrade complex systems in a technologically dynamic environment.

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