A college or university is often the largest employer in a town or city; it has a huge impact on energy use, carbon footprint, water use and other municipal services. It also serves as an example to thousands of students, faculty and staff. Make sure that your college or university is doing what it can to promote sustainable operations. A new organization formed to promote campus sustainability efforts, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), attracted more than 150 campuses as dues-paying members in 2006, its first year of operations.9 In October 2006 AASHE's first national conference attracted more than 600 people. By early 2007 dozens of campuses all over the country had appointed sustainability directors or coordinators and had begun to implement successful sustainability programs.
One campus that has made sustainability a core part of its mission is Arizona State University (ASU), the country's largest, with more than 60,000 enrolled students, which created, funded and staffed an Office of Sustainability Initiatives in 2005 under the enlightened leadership of President Michael Crow.10 In 2007 ASU began offering five degree programs in sustainability studies, the first in the country by a major university.
Harvard University has embarked on a major campaign of sustain-ability initiatives in buildings. The director, Leith Sharp, has run this program since 2001. She reports that the annual return on investment for Har vard's energy efficiency and green building programs is about 36%, about twice that of Harvard's multi-billion-dollar endowment.11 In other words, to improve their rate of return, Harvard's endowment managers would be well advised to put as much money as possible into the campus's sustain-ability initiatives! The same could be said for most private universities.
Green Building: A to Z
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