Wednesday, September 17, 2008

7 Tips on Making Campuses Green

Seven tips on green campus organizing from a Harvard pro
BY KATHARINE WROTH - For the full article, go to
17 Sep 2008

1) Get down to business.
Harvard's Green Campus Initiative has met with success in large part because it focuses on the business case for sustainability, not the hippie-dippy stuff. Sharp says it's possible -- and necessary -- to "prove point-blank that if you change every light bulb in an institution to the most high-performance light bulb, you will get a payback on the order of three years ... most of these projects are self-fundable". 

2) Start small ... The best way to get green efforts rolling, Sharp says, is one step at a time. Identify a concrete project -- buying greener cleaning supplies, say, or lowering energy use in a computer lab -- then find a "grassroots partner" who is willing to experiment, such as a purchasing manager or facility supervisor. 

3)  ... but think big. Once you have a few successes under your belt, Sharp says the best long-term strategy is to focus not just on individual projects, but also on institutional change. "[The first approach] is likely to give you a fantastic green building, but then very likely to result in every other building using the same conventional approach," she says. 

4)  Make your way to the middle. And speaking of middle managers, Sharp says they are the real key to change, since they control most behind-the-scenes systems and processes. But more often than not, they need to know that there's a desire and capacity from below (students and staff) and a mandate from above (administration) before they will consider acting. 

5)  Have patience. Understand that you probably will encounter resistance, but it's likely not insurmountable. Often people are afraid of change, worried about costs, or concerned that they'll be burdened with more work. "Come in with a deep sense of curiosity about other people's thought processes," Sharp says, "and keep a respectful dialogue going." 

6)  Be creative. You don't have to be as well-endowed as Harvard -- which runs a $12 million revolving loan fund for green projects -- to make change. "No matter how small your organization," says Sharp, "you have an energy bill, you have a waste-related bill, material costs, staff-time costs, and these are all the ingredients in the kitchen ... Wherever you can conserve your resources more, that's where you are going to have your savings." 

7)  Play well with others. It's the nature of colleges to compete, and the eco-realm is no exception -- just look at the Princeton Review's new green rankings. But it's much more useful to collaborate, Sharp says. 

For the full article, go to

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