Open Letter to Sustainability Evaluating Organizations

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Below is the Open Letter to Sustainability Evaluating Organizations sent on July 19, 2010. Original signatories are indicated; however, signatures are ongoing. If you care to add your campus to the list, feel free to do so by responding to this thread.

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OPEN LETTER TO SUSTAINABILITY EVALUATING ORGANIZATIONS

Sent to:

Greenopia
National Wildlife Federation
Peterson's Guide
Princeton Review
Sierra Magazine
Sustainable Endowments Institute
US Green Building Council

July 19, 2010

To Whom It May Concern:

As sustainability officers representing a wide range of institutions of higher education, we enthusiastically support efforts to promote sustainability at colleges and universities around the world. Over the past few years, a number of organizations have taken the initiative to highlight the positive aspects of campus sustainability through the development of sustainability surveys and report cards. These efforts have prompted constructive conversations about campus sustainability, serving as a learning tool for students and administrators, and bringing much-needed attention to underrepresented areas of campus operations.

Today, all of our institutions have ambitious sustainability initiatives that include implementing climate action plans; developing long-range conservation strategies; establishing and expanding environmental research and academic programs; and promoting local economic development, social justice, and public health goals. In these challenging economic times, we believe staff and university resources are best devoted to developing long-term, broad-based, and verifiable responses to the challenges of climate change and resource conservation. We are pleased to say all of our institutions have committed to difficult goals and invested substantial resources toward meeting these goals.

With a strong desire to move boldly and set new, higher standards for sustainability, we look forward to collaborating with independent evaluating organizations who share our high standards of excellence, especially those who facilitate public discourse on sustainability and the environment. Accordingly, we the undersigned pledge to work with evaluating organizations who seek to embody the following fundamental principles:

1. Be fully transparent. Evaluating organizations should disclose their process of assigning scores, rankings, or grades, and the underlying assumptions, principles and values upon which benchmarking metrics are based. Also helpful would be disclosure of any science, engineering or financial references used to develop these benchmarks, particularly as this field is fast moving and constantly changing. Finally, organizations should note any individuals with perceived conflicts of interest, such as those who are alumni of schools being evaluated.

2. Be accountable. Evaluating organizations should seek to ensure the veracity of their information by verifying it with each school to make certain that it is up to date and accurate.

3. Disclose professional credentials. Evaluating organizations should share the technical, financial, and professional sustainability credentials of the personnel involved in their evaluation processes.

4. Embrace diversity. Evaluating organizations should seek to avoid the potential for misleading comparisons that fail to capture significant differences that stem from the unique goals, visions, locations, demographic settings, populations, and backgrounds of different institutions. A “one size fits all” approach is inadequate for comparing progress.

5. Balance process with best practices. Surveys should recognize the balance of results-oriented tactical efforts with long-term strategies. At times campus sustainability professionals must forgo high-visibility short-term projects for less visible long-term sustained planning, which often takes a more comprehensive scope as opposed to one narrow slice of campus sustainability.

6. Use uniform metrics. Questions should be consistent with accepted national survey methodologies that have been openly developed by a broad base of sustainability experts and applied across a wide range of institutional types. Questions should also include sufficient supporting information to ensure consistent interpretation and requirements for data.

7. Reject financial conflicts of interest. Evaluating organizations should not accept any form of financial compensation from the schools being evaluated.

8. Offer an “opt out.” Evaluating organizations should accept that campus sustainability teams reserve the right to prioritize limited resources to maximize progress towards strategic sustainability goals. At times this could include the decision not to participate in certain surveys. It is contrary to the preceding principles to evaluate a school that has expressed a preference not to participate.

In the interest of providing transparency and accurately measuring our progress toward campus sustainability goals, this letter serves as our collective statement that we will assist and support those organizations who adopt the above guiding principles in their survey methodologies.

We recognize the significant societal contributions from evaluating organizations seeking to raise public awareness of our progress toward sustainability, and we believe the principles detailed above will help ensure the long-term credibility of campus sustainability reports and build greater support and understanding of the need for a sustainable future.

Most sincerely,

Susan Kidd
Director of Sustainability
Agnes Scott College
Decatur, GA

Lindy Biggs,
Director, Office of Sustainability
Auburn University**
Auburn, Alabama

Lisa Gamsu
Vice President for Administration & Capital Planning
Barnard College
New York, NY

Barbara Kviz
Environmental Coordinator, Facilities Mangement
Carnegie Mellon University*
Pittsburgh, PA

James J. Zaffiro
Coordinator, Office of Global Sustainability Education
Central College**
Pella, Iowa

John Pumilio
Sustainability Coordinator
Colgate University*
Hamilton, NY

Carol Dollard
Energy Engineer and Sustainability Coordinator for Facilities Management
Colorado State University*
Fort Collins, CO

Nilda Mesa
Assistant Vice President, Environmental Stewardship
Columbia University
New York, NY

Ciannat M. Howett
Director, Office of Sustainability Initiatives
Emory University
Atlanta, GA

Lenna Storm
Sustainability Manager
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA

Brian E. Hagenbuch, Ph.D.
Director of the Pine Lake Institute for Environmental and Sustainability Studies
Hartwick College*
Oneonta, NY

Marian Brown
Special Assistant to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs for Sustainability
Ithaca College
Ithaca, NY

Davis Bookhart
Director, Office of Sustainability
Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, MD

Jay Antle, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Center for Sustainability
Johnson County Community College*
Overland Park, KS.

Bert Jacobson, Ph.D.
Dean for Environmental and Institutional Sustainability
Kankakee Community College*
Kankakee, IL

Ben Champion
Director of Sustainability
Kansas State University*
Manhattan, KS

Michael G. Lotito, P.E.
Director of Plant Operations
Loyola Marymount University*
Los Angeles, CA

Jim A. Nicell
Associate Vice-Principal (University Services) & James McGill Professor
McGill University
Montreal, QC, Canada

Laura Fieselman
Sustainability Coordinator
Meredith College*
Raleigh, NC

Jeremy Friedman
Manager, Sustainability Initiatives
New York University
New York, NY

Sheri Jeanne Tonn
Vice President, Finance and Operations
Pacific Lutheran University
Tacoma, WA

Arthur E. Frazier III
Director, Facilities Management & Services
Spelman College
Atlanta, GA

Fahmida I. Ahmed
Associate Director, Office of Sustainability
Stanford University
Palo Alto, CA

Kelly Wellman
Sustainability Officer
Texas A&M University*
College Station, TX

Meghan Chapple-Brown
Director, Office of Sustainability
The George Washington University
Washington, DC

Gwen Kilvert
Assistant Director for Sustainability & Energy Management
The New School
New York, NY

Joe Abraham, PhD
Sustainability Coordinator
The University of Arizona*
Tucson, AZ

Tina Woolston
Director, Office of Sustainability
Tufts University
Medford, MA

Mary Ellen Mallia
Director of Environmental Sustainability
University at Albany*
Albany, NY

Joe Raab
Director, Environment, Health & Safety, and Acting Director of UB Green
University at Buffalo
Buffalo, NY

Frank Bruno
Vice Chancellor for Administration
University of Colorado at Boulder
Boulder, CO

Linda Kogan
Sustainability Director
University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs, CO

Anna Prizzia
Director, Office of Sustainability
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL

Jeffery R. Severin
Director, Center for Sustainability
University of Kansas
Lawrence, KS

Mary Clark
Sustainability Program Specialist
University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM

John C. Sagebiel, Ph.D., LEED AP
Environmental Affairs Manager
University of Nevada at Reno**
Reno, Nevada

E. Christian Wells, Ph.D.
Director, Office of Sustainability
University of South Florida**
Tampa, FL

Gioia Thompson
Sustainability Director
University of Vermont
Burlington, VT

Helen Angelakis
Sustainability Executive Officer
University of Western Sydney**
Sydney, Australia

Jacek Ghosh, M. Arch, LEED AP, CRM, EDFP
Director of Sustainability
Virginia Commonwealth University**
Richmond, VA

Dedee DeLongpré Johnston
Director, Office of Sustainability
Wake Forest University
Winston Salem, NC

Henry S. Webber
Executive Vice Chancellor for Administration
Washington University in St. Louis
St. Louis, MO

Seth Vidaña, M.Ed
Campus Sustainability Coordinator
Office of Sustainability
Western Washington University*
Bellingham, WA

*Added on July 23, 2010

**Added August 1, 2010

 

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Thanks for taking this initiative. Please add Hartwick College to your list.

Brian E. Hagenbuch, Ph.D.

Director of the Pine Lake Institute for Environmental and Sustainability Studies

Hartwick College

Oneonta, NY

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Please add us to the list:

Mary Ellen Mallia

Director of Environmental Sustainability

University at Albany

Albany, NY

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Wonderfully stated.  Please add Colgate University as a signatory.

John Pumilio

Sustainability Coordinator
Colgate University
Hamilton, NY

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Nicely written. Please include The University of Arizona to the list of signatories:

 

Joe Abraham, PhD

Sustainability Coordinator

The University of Arizona

Tucson, AZ

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Joined: Dec 23 2008

 I'll join in as well.

 

Ben Champion

Director of Sustainability

Kansas State University

Manhattan, KS

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Please include Carnegie Mellon to the list.

 

Barbara Kviz

Environmental Coordinator, Facilities Mangement

Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh, PA

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Joined: Dec 23 2008

Please include Kankakee Community College to the list.

Bert Jacobson, Ph.D.

Dean for Environmental and Institutional Sustainability

Kankakee Communtiy College

Kankakee, IL

 

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Joined: Dec 23 2008

Please add Johnson County Community College

Jay Antle, Ph.D.

Executive Director, Center for Sustainability

Johnson County Community College

Overland Park, KS.

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Joined: Dec 23 2008

 

Please add Western Washington University

 

Seth Vidaña, M.Ed
Campus Sustainability Coordinator
Office of Sustainability
Western Washington University
Bellingham, WA

 

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Joined: Dec 23 2008

Please add Meredith College

Laura Fieselman
Sustainability Coordinator
Meredith College
Raleigh, NC
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Joined: Dec 23 2008

Please add Texas A&M University

Kelly Wellman

Sustainability Officer

Texas A&M University

College Station, TX

carol.dollard@colostate.edu's picture
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Please add Colorado State University

 

Carol Dollard

Energy Engineer and Sustainability Coordinator for Facilities Management

Colorado State University

Fort Collins, CO

 

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Joined: Dec 23 2008

Loyola Marymount University supports this initiative.

Michael G. Lotito, P.E.

Director of Plant Operations
Loyola Marymount University
Los Angeles, CA

 

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Joined: Apr 5 2010

The University of South Florida is pleased to support this letter.

E. Christian Wells, Ph.D.

Director, Office of Sustainability

University of South Florida

Tampa, FL

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Please add Central College to this list of supporting institutions.

 

James J. Zaffiro

Coordinator, Office of Global Sustainability Education

Central College

Pella, Iowa 50219

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Joined: Dec 3 2009

Please add the University of Western Sydney to the list

Helen Angelakis

Sustainability executive officer

University of Western Sydney, Sydney, Australia

http://www.uws.edu.au/sustainability

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Please add the University of Nevada, Reno.

Thank you,

John C. Sagebiel, Ph.D., LEED AP

Environmental Affairs Manager

http://www.unr.edu/sustainability/

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Please add Virginia Commonwealth University to the list. VCU is pleased to support this letter.

Jacek Ghosh, M. Arch, LEED AP, CRM, EDFP

Director of Sustainability

Virginia Commonwealth University

Richmond, VA 23298-0166

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Please add Virginia Commonwealth University to the list. VCU is pleased to support this letter.

Jacek Ghosh, M. Arch, LEED AP, CRM, EDFP

Director of Sustainability

Virginia Commonwealth University

Richmond, VA 23298-0166

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Please add the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh:

Michael Lizotte, PhD

Director of Sustainability

University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

Oshkosh, WI 54901

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Joined: Dec 23 2008

Please add Auburn University as a signatory to this very well crafted letter.

 

Lindy Biggs

Director, Office of Sustainability

Auburn University

Auburn, Alabama

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Joined: Dec 23 2008

Please add Syracuse University to the letter.

Steve Lloyd

Associate Director for Sustainability

Syracuse University

Syracuse, New York

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Please add North Seattle Community College to the list.

Christian Rusby
Sustainability Coordinator
North Seattle Community College
Seattle, Washington

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Joined: May 22 2009

Thank you for this, and please add Willamette University to the list:

 

Wendy Petersen Boring

Chair, Sustainability Council

Willamette University

900 State Street

Salem, OR 97302

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Joined: Dec 23 2008

Please add Keene State College to the list.

 

Mary Jensen

Campus Sustainability Officer

Keene State College

229 Main Street

Keene, NH 03435

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Joined: Dec 23 2008

Please add Keene State College to the list.

 

Mary Jensen

Campus Sustainability Officer

Keene State College

229 Main Street

Keene, NH 03435

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Joined: Dec 23 2008

Please add Elon University.

Elaine Durr

Sustainability Coordinator

Elon University

Elon, NC

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Joined: Aug 13 2010

Please add Knox College to the list.

Roger L. Taylor

President

Knox College

Galesburg, Illinois

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Please add the University of Louisville to the list of institutions in support of this open letter.

Justin Mog, Ph.D.
Assistant to the Provost for Sustainability Initiatives
University of Louisville
426 W. Bloom St.
Louisville, KY 40208

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Joined: Nov 3 2009

Please add Champlain College.

Christina Erickson, PhD
Sustainability Director
Champlain College
PO Box 670, Burlington, VT 05402

 

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Please add the University of Missouri at Columbia Missouri to your list.

Steve Burdic

Sustainability Coordinator

University of Missouri

W112 VAPS

Columbia, MO 65211

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Joined: Sep 11 2009

Please add

Berry College

Eddie D. Elsberry

Director of Sustainability

2277 Martha Berry Hwy

Mount Berry GA 30149

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Joined: Mar 10 2009

 Please add

 

James Pittman

Director of Sustainability

Prescott College, Prescott AZ

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Joined: Dec 23 2008

The University of Kentucky is also in complete agreement with this letter.  Please add us as a signatory.

Shane Tedder

Sustainability Coordinator

University of Kentucky

Lexington, KY 40506

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Unity College fully supports this initiative.

Jesse Pyles

Sustainability Coordinator

Unity College

Unity, ME