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"National Trends in Sustainability Performance: Lessons for Facilities Leaders"
Author: Jones, Kristy M.,Keniry, L. Julian,
Published In: Facilities Manager
Date: March/April 2009

For most facilities leaders, sustainability is nothing new. The authors have observed repeatedly over several decades that administrative and facilities staff have often taken the lead in initiating many of the most effective and visible efforts on campuses to dramatically curb energy use and waste and to contain costs, even during times of rapid growth. It was not particularly a surprise to the authors, therefore, when the findings of their new study, "Campus Environment 2008: A National Report Card on Sustainability in Higher Education," released last August, revealed campus operations as leading the effort to "green" America's colleges and universities. It also identifies a few missed opportunities and areas where facilities and other leaders on campuses are planning to do much more. The study, conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International for the National Wildlife Federation, evaluates sustainability performance at 1,068 two- and four-year colleges and universities in 50 states and focuses on three areas: curriculum, management, and operations. Its purpose is to explore the extent to which college and university leaders value environmental performance and sustainability and are putting these values into practice. It also aims to glimpse beyond the anecdotal evidence into nationwide trends across all types of campuses, large and small, public and private, in all regions of the country. The authors not only report on current activity and performance, but also compare these trends with their 2001 study. Other studies by peer groups, looking in different ways at select colleges and universities, have emerged since 2001. Taken together, these surveys provide varied lenses through which to view the vast and complex subject of campus leadership for sustainability, and they signal the growing interest in this topic.

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