Farewell for Now, Climateers!
By Walter Simpson, AASHE Senior Fellow and Retired 26-Year University at Buffalo Energy Officer and Director of UB Green
Hello and Goodbye Campus Climateers!
I am wrapping up my current contract with AASHE to provide resources to help colleges and universities achieve their climate action goals. It’s been a great pleasure and honor to be able to assist you and your schools in this critically important endeavor. As regular readers of this column know, nothing is more important to me than addressing the climate crisis and I greatly respect and appreciate the efforts you and you colleagues are making to do that on your campus... and hopefully in your community as well (see final word below).
During the last five months I’ve developed AASHE’s campus Climate Action Planning wiki. Its detailed table of contents appears here and, if you haven’t taken a look at it, please do. You will see that the wiki covers almost every topic you might want to know more about or research as you assemble your college or university’s climate action plan and, most importantly,actually implement carbon emissions reductions***|*!I tried to fill a campus climate action resource gap by stressing the “how to” and took the approach of including “everything and the kitchen sink” to make the CAP guide as complete and helpful as possible.
Since the wiki was posted, now almost two months ago, I have been further editing, refining, and elaborating on the original campus climate action planning guide text. It is slated for release by AASHE as a conventional electronic document – with the working titleCool Campus! A How-To Guide for College and University Climate Action Planning-- within about a month. For those looking for more help and maybe not at home with the wiki format,Cool Campus!will be another resource you can use to advance your campus climate action agenda. If you do decide to print it (and I encourage you to do so if that’s the best way to put it to best use), please print on 100% post-consumer waste content recycled paper in order to spare the trees! Hopefully, you are already using this type of paper on and off campus.
My work on the wiki and on the updatedCool Campus!version of the text was assisted by these valued peer reviewers whose help and assistance I greatly appreciate:
- Fahmida Ahmed, Stanford University
- Jennifer Andrews, Clean Air-Cool Planet
- Jack Byrne, Middlebury College
- Julian Dautremont-Smith, AASHE Associate Director
- Georges Dyer, Second Nature
- David J. Eagan, National Wildlife Federation -- Campus Ecology program
- Louise Gava, Saint Lawrence University
- Bob Kennedy, Einhorn, Yaffee, and Prescott
- Toni Nelson, AASHE Climate Program Manager
- Julie NewmanandKeri Enright-Kato, Yale University
- Jim Simon, University at Buffalo
- Michael Womersley, Unity College
While working on this project I also wrote a number of campus climate action blogs on strategies for reducing campus carbon footprints. These contained bite-size discussions of topics addressed in greater detail in the CAP wiki plus personal reflections on the issues drawn from my experience as energy officer at the University at Buffalo. In occasionally mentioning UB, I never intended to put my former employer on a pedestal but rather to derive some benefit from my experience there. In fact, much of this AASHE project has been doing just that: putting my long experience in the campus energy and environmental trenches to good use by sharing some of what I learned. And if you feel impatient with institutional paralysis or the glacial pace of environmental improvement at your school, I feel your pain because I have been there. The important thing is to keep going – wherever you are.
I had a series of mentors after I became UB’s energy officer in 1982. While I am grateful to all of them, I am especially thankful for all the help and guidance I received from Herb Lewis who was UB’s physical plant superintendent during my early years. Herb has since passed away but I still remember regularly sitting in his office lamenting the fact that our energy conservation program was stalled because of lack of funds or top level support. Herb would urge me to be patient, and he tried to comfort me with the metaphor of a pendulum. He said sometimes the UB pendulum will swing in our direction (and there will be abundant support for the energy program) and sometimes it will not. But be patient, Herb said, because the pendulum will eventually swing back and the program will move forward again. Of course, he was right – though sometimes patience is too painful. It can seem a luxury given the urgency of climate change.
This past month my blogs were on campus power plant options, renewable energy on campus, and green building design. All the blogs are listed here:
- Excellent Climate Action Planning Resources Abound
- Creating an Institutional Structure for Your Climate Action Plan
- Energizing Your CAP Team + Tips on Hiring a Consultant
- Calculating Your Campus Carbon Footprint: It’s Not as Hard as You Think
- What to Expect from Your GHG Inventory & How to Maximize Its Benefit
- Want to Reduce Your Campus’ Carbon Footprint? Then Develop a Comprehensive Campus Energy Conservation Program
- Implementing Low Cost or No Cost Operational Energy Savings
- Energy Pigs – What Are They? What to Do about Them?
- Getting the Most Out of an Energy Performance Contract – Part 1
- Getting the Most Out of an Energy Performance Contract – Part 2
- Buying Green Power – An Important Step Toward Climate Neutrality
- Greening Your Campus Power Plant
- Installing Renewable Energy Technologies on Campus
- New Construction and Green Building Design
As I close, I would like to pass along one additional suggestion.
You may recall one or two teasing comments I made over the past few months urging sustainability directors and staff to stop answering e-mail, switch off their computers, and get out on campus. Now I would like to take this simple encouragement one step further.
To achieve the deep cuts in greenhouse gases that scientists say are necessary, we will need dramatically new policies and much more enlightened leaders on all levels of society. This challenge is so big that we must think and act big, and that means defining our work more broadly than just taking place in the small confines of our campuses. I strongly encourage you to venture off campus and join others doing climate change education and community organizing in the wider community. To succeed we must build a much larger movement. And, as I have said before, the clock is ticking.
I am reminded of a quote attributed to Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead. It reads:“Somebody has to do something, and it’s just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.”I think that about sums it up! There is no one else. We are the ones. So let’s do it!
Here is the same sentiment though said differently,“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”-- a Native American saying from the Hopi Nation’s “Wisdom of the Elders.” Interestingly enough, that line is preceded by “Try to do whatever you do as an act of celebration.” Good advice as we act positively with love in defense of our planet and the world.
Best wishes for success in your campus and community climate action work,
Walter Simpson, AASHE Senior Fellow and retired 26 year University at Buffalo Energy Officer and director of UB Green, is working with AASHE and the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment to develop climate action planning resources.
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