Sustainable Schools: Education Goes Green

This edition of Sea Change Radio studies sustainable education.  Co-Host Bill Baue speaks with Sustainable Endowments Institute Executive Director Mark Orlowski about the College Sustainability Report Card.  Co-Host Kelsey Flynn then chats with Josh Stoffel, the new Sustainability Coordinator here at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, where we produce Sea Change Radio, and Monty Archbald, chair of the Green Campus Committee at Greenfield Community College.  And finally, Bill talks with Neil Drobny of the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University.

School: it’s all about the future, learning skills and gaining knowledge to broaden our horizons.  This forward-looking focus makes education a perfect place to study sustainability, which is all about protecting our environment and supporting social systems for present and, importantly, future generations.  You’d think that schools would be right on board with the sustainability agenda, but that hasn’t necessarily been the case.  That’s what Mark Orlowski found when he started examining how green and socially responsible college and universities are.  He’s head of the Sustainable Endowments Institute, which issues an annual College Sustainability Report Card.  That’s right, he grades schools!

Orlowski was visiting the region last year before the most recent report card came out, in October, so Sea Change Co-Host Bill Baue invited him into the WMUA studio for a chat, which touched on a range of issues including the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, among many other things.

WMUA is housed in the Campus Center at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst — so we can take an up-close look at how UMass is implementing sustainability.  UMass Amherst earned a C+ in the latest College Sustainability Report Card — with A’s in many campus initiatives counterbalanced by a couple of Fs on the investment side, in endowment transparency and shareholder engagement.

The month before, in September 2009, UMass Amherst hired a recent graduate, Josh Stoffel, as its new Sustainability Coordinator.  For her Sustainable Valley segment on radio station WRSI, Sea Change Co-Host Kelsey Flynn recently interviewed Josh, who described the university’s Energy Conservation Project, which is saving the school over $6 million a year, and its co-generation power plant.  He also discussed the university’s Green Portal.

Kelsey then talks with Montserrat Archbald, a Peer Tutoring Program Staff Assistant at Greenfield Community College.  Along with some of her peers at GCC five years ago, she helped form the Green Campus Committee.  The group is committed to promoting environmental awareness on campus, pursuing sustainable energy and energy saving measures and advocating for green curricula.  Monty (as she’s called) also described the school’s new Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency degree program.

Finally, on a trip to Columbus, Ohio last year, Bill spoke with Neil Drobny, who teaches sustainability in business at the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University.  He explained how he helped introduce sustainability into the curriculum at OSU, and reflected on the challenges of integrating sustainability into existing MBA programs.