Education, Sustainability

When "No Budget" is Your Sustainability Starting Point


At first blush, making a college campus sustainable looks expensive. Without money allocated to the effort, is it possible to make real progress toward sustainability?

Dan Broersma thinks so. As Herman Miller’s safety and sustainability corporate program manager, Broersma helps colleges and other organizations develop sustainable solutions. He tells Green Building News, “I think if you start with a ‘we have no budget’ point of view it forces you to look at ‘what can we do? What do we have at our disposal privately?’”

 For example, it doesn’t take a budget to focus on energy reduction. Simply becoming mindful of the energy costs associated with electronics use makes it easy to see where cutbacks can be made. Or it might be something as simple as working with facilities to make sure the heat is turned down or computers turned off in a building at a certain time of day. You can use the money recouped from those cost savings to make a case for funding energy reduction processes, says Broersma, like swapping out halogen lights for LEDs.

More colleges are pursuing green initiatives on their campuses than ever before for a variety of reasons. One reason is that sustainability matters to students. The Princeton Review conducted a survey of college-bound high schoolers in 2012; 68 percent said that a school’s commitment to the environment affects their decision to apply or attend that institution. Its Guide to 322 Green Colleges: 2013 Edition includes colleges’ commitments to sustainability in their academic offerings, campus infrastructure, activities, and career preparation so students can make an informed decision.