Sustainable Sunday: Sustainability in Higher Education

Posted: January 23, 2011 in Sustainable Sundays
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Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little – Edmund Burke

Today friends I want to talk about sustainability in higher education, we’ll look in the weeks to come at sustainability education at the elementary levels but today I want to focus on higher education.  Sustainability, particularly on the west coast has become a very hot issue for colleges.  There is even an association, for a fee of course, that links sustainability initiatives across the country providing resources and guidance on these issues.  Across the country many college presidents have become signatories to the American Colleges and Universities Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC).  These signatories are taking a step toward ensuring that colleges and universities are leaders in the discussion of sustainability, not followers.  A link to the text is below:

Among the leaders at the college level on sustainability is a community college in Oroville, California, Butte-Glenn Sustainability Community College.  I love this place, the effort is a college-wide effort that is led in many ways by a very wise facilities director by the name of Mike Miller.  Mike’s philosophy is, “fiscal stability through sustainable initiatives” a philosophy I have personally adopted.  Butte has done a significant amount of green building on campus, building a number of LEED certified buildings and of course has developed education programming to match.  However the most amazing thing to me, and their greatest claim to fame, will be by this spring the first grid positive campus in America.  What does that mean?  Very simply the college will produce more energy than it consumes.  They are accomplishing this through a combination of energy efficiency in action and building as well as a three phases of solar fields that have been installed.  A really remarkable accomplishment and one that they should be commended for and which other colleges should aspire to, and very much what the ACUPCC is all about.  You can read more about Butte at the following link:

  1. Thanks for the post and congratulations on Butte for becoming a grid positive. This is quite an accomplishment.

    I’m not sure if the association you were referring to was, but it stands for the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education and is definitely a great resource for anyone interested in this topic. There are a few members-only sections, but much of their information is free.

    Also, if anyone is interested in sustainability in study abroad, I’ve started a 4-part blog series on this topic, which you can see at

    It’s exciting to see higher education finally finally paying some attention to these core issues.

    In community,
    – Daniel

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