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Green Programs Transform Campuses

In these sessions, attendees learned how to balance sustainability and financial stewardship, and manage risks associated with climate-change legislation.

Extreme Deferred Maintenance

As its title suggests, the session on “Developing a Budget-Neutral, Comprehensive, Green, and Deferred Maintenance Program” covered quite a lot of ground. And that's exactly what the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg set out to accomplish by assessing its entire campus to identify overlapping priorities for deferred maintenance and energy-efficiency projects. That alone is a laudable approach, but UCM took another giant step forward with its decision to tackle a $20 million backlog of facility infrastructure repair and another $16 million in energy-efficiency improvements in under two years.

In laying out financing options for UCM trustees, the choice became clear, said Betty Roberts, UCM's vice president of administration and finance. Either the university could continue its current path of fix-it-as-you-go and pay out $1.73 on the dollar during the course of 32 years, or the institution could assume a bold full-court press to address a multitude of longstanding needs. During that same time, the latter course of action would actually save UCM money-to the tune of 37 cents on the dollar. The energy savings alone from implementing improvements sooner rather than later are projected at $735,000 annually, representing real dollars to reallocate to help pay for the projects.

The university is currently ahead of schedule to complete all work on 26 main campus buildings by spring 2011. According to Roberts, one of the biggest benefits of the entire initiative is the payback for students, who will enjoy a greatly enhanced learning environment for years to come.

The Power of My Green Cube

Jim Tucker, senior vice president, student life and administrative services, and Joe Campbell, associate vice president, university procurement, Drexel University, believe that successful sustainability programs blend macro elements with micro-level participation to produce lasting cultural change on campus and beyond. By engaging the community on a micro level, the responsibility shifts from “yours” to “ours,” blame becomes shared responsibility, and individuals feel empowered. At Drexel, they've adopted a game cube as an educational tool and daily reminder of individual responsibilities.

My Green Cube is a powerful model for creating and organizing universitywide green programming to engage faculty, staff, and students. The cube provides five major focus areas, each having three easy tasks:

Efficiency—Lights off • Save water • Rethink transportation.

Recycle—Cans and bottles • Paper • Printer cartridges.

Reduction—Energy • Pollution • Waste.

Re-use—Bags • Buy recycled • Mugs.

Education—Learn and apply • Investigate solutions • Teach others.

Drexel sponsors My Green Cube Engagement Events to market and disseminate additional sustainability practices, resources, and initiatives. In addition, the cube is tied to a pledge that emphasizes individual responsibility for improving the environment; members of the campus community are encouraged to sign the pledge.

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