Sustainable Buildings on Campus (Part 1)

Concordia UniversityEngaging in sustainability and responsible leaders goes beyond the classroom curriculum. It must also be engrained into the business school itself on its campus. A growing number of business schools and universities are not just putting in place strategies to ‘green’ their buildings on campus, but certifying these buildings through different national and international schemes. Although several say that this increases the upfront costs of the renovations or building projects, many also say that they recuperate much of that through lower operation costs. At the same time this creates more efficient and interesting buildings that create a sense of community beyond the campus.

There has been a significant rise in a mix of voluntary certification and mandatory requirements for both new buildings and existing constructions that are changing the way University campuses look around the globe. These standards provide guidance on creating more sustainable buildings through a wide range of topics including, but not limited to site selection, energy efficiency and sourcing, materials, construction practices, water efficiency and use, the design of the space and landscaping. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is one set of sustainable building standards based in the US. It is a voluntary certification programme that verifies use of sustainability practices in key performance areas including siding selection, water efficiency, energy efficiency, materials and indoor air quality, and awards buildings certified, silver, gold or platinum.

Roosevelt University’s 32-storey skyscraper is the ninth largest university building in the world and is LEED Gold certified. Nearly 8,000 square feet of green roof on 5 floors reduces the city’s heat island effect and provides a rooftop vegetable garden. There is an advanced recycling system on every floor that automatically sorts trash and self cleans. A food pulper system uses recycled water and rescues 80% of solid food waste that is then composted and added to the soil at the campus community garden. The building has plenty of indoor bike parking, as well as easy access to showers for riders. The carpets throughout the buildings are made from 60% recycled plastic containers and even the façade of the building is built with ‘visual noise’ to protect birds from colliding with the reflective surface.

These certifications don’t only apply to new buildings but to renovated older buildings as well. Thunderbird School of Management’s home, a renovated World War II-era building that served as an air traffic control tower, has LEED Silver certification. The tower has an energy efficient roof and windows, water efficient plumbing fixtures, maximised daylight and minimised construction waste. Select furniture was made from recycled or reclaimed materials, and the ceilings were constructed with materials salvaged during the renovations.

The University of California Berkeley campus currently has fourteen LEED certified building projects and 6 more underway, representing over 10% of the total square footage of the campus. Major projects are designed to achieve Gold certification, and required at a minimum to achieve Silver. This is part of the university’s overall green building strategy, which includes a no net increase energy goal, meaning the proposed project would not result in an increase in the building’s metered energy. New building and renovation projects are required to outperform local energy codes by at least 30%. The Maximino Martinez Commons building on their campus is powered in part by 10,000 therms of solar water heating.

The University of California Santa Cruz Student Health Centre building has received Gold certification—the project was started by a student of environmental studies and economics, who graduated in 2009. The entire $17 million project was funded by students through several bond measures and an agreement to a new compulsory fee of $5.20 per quarter per student. Among the changes were waterless urinals and more efficient flush toilets, planter boxes to capture storm water, reinforced turf instead of pavement in a turnaround area for service vehicles, recycled and other green building materials, and the use of FSC certified wood.

Maharishi University of Management’s Sustainable Living Centre is a carbon neutral building, creating more energy than it uses. Rooms are designed to harness the different qualities of sunlight at different times of the day to support different types of activity. The building is completely off the grid and has a wind tower and solar voltaic arrays with a power capacity of 20kW. Some months the building generates twice as much energy as it needs, and the excess is used to power other buildings across campus. It obtained the highest LEED certification level, Platinum. The website for the building allows anyone interested to see in real time the amount of energy being used and generated by the building.

A growing number of schools are putting in place green building standards for all new buildings on campus. All new buildings at Fordham University School of Business are being designed to achieve LEED Silver rating, ensuring that all new properties are environmentally responsible. They have been exceeding this goal in some construction, achieving the LEED Gold standard where possible. Bentley University has also established a policy that all new campus construction will be built to at least LEED Silver or beyond.

Does your campus have a green building policy? Are your buildings certified by a national or international scheme? Share your stories in the comments below.


Developing the post 2015 agenda

worldwewantIn the year 2000, world leaders came together to establish the Millennium Development Goals – also known as the MDGs – a set of eight goals which member states and international organizations have agreed to achieve by the year 2015. The MDGs are to:

  1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  2. Achieve universal primary education
  3. Promote gender equality and empower women
  4. Reduce child mortality
  5. Improve maternal health
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  7. Ensure environmental sustainability
  8. Develop a global partnership for development

The MDGs have been a powerful tool for sustaining global attention and bringing together international support to promote development. The strength of the MDGs is that they focuse on a limited set of concrete human development goals and have provided a target for setting national and international development policies. The specific, time-bound targets and measurable indicators provide valuable and effective benchmarks for monitoring progress and achieving concrete results.

The target today, post Rio+20, is still on achieving those goals by 2015 but the process has started to develop a framework that could succeed the MDGs in the post 2015 era. Discussions are already underway as to what these new goals and targets may look like, taking the lessons learnt from the MDGs. This includes an intergovernmental Open Working Group, a UN System Task Team as well as over 50 national consultations being led by the UN Development Group (for more information about this process visit Post 2015 site).

It was felt, in particular by civil society organizations, that there were several important issues that were not addressed in the original MDGs, issues productive employment, violence against women, social protection, inequalities, social exclusion, biodiversity, malnutrition, the rule of law, human rights that could be included this time around. In order to ensure that the important issues are not overlooked and to make the goals and targets stronger, this time civil society is being invited into the process through a wide range of consultative processes.

In conjunction with the UN task forces and governments plans for the post-2015 agenda, a consultation process is being held online via a platform called The World We Want 2015. Here, nine thematic consultations are taking place led by various UN agencies including Inequalities, Governance, Health, Sustainability, Population, WaterEmployment,  ConflictFoodEducation,  and Energy. Each theme has regular online discussions, summaries of the consultation process, and ongoing Twitter updates of the live proceedings.  Currently there is an online consultation on Sustainability and Growth that will continue until the 8th of March. There are also a series of conferences around the different topic areas happening around the world.

Individuals are also being invited to take part in the process is via My World (, a global survey asking individuals to choose priorities in creating a better world. The results will be shared with world leaders in setting the next global development agenda.

There are also a range of hubs bringing together research, reports and information about the Post-2015 discussions, all which invite contributions. Post 2015 is a hub for ideas, debate and resources on what comes after the Millenium Development Goals. Co-ordinated by the Overseas Development Institute, which has been working on a major research project on the post-2015 agenda, the site also collects information about new research, papers and other relevant information regarding this topic.  Several movements and organizations such as Beyond 2015 and Global Call to Action Against Poverty provide a space for civil society groups to discuss what the post 2015 agenda may look like and submit their recommendations.

The first report of the UN system on the Post 2015 Development Agenda – Realizing the Future We Want for All – provides a good overview of the whole process and the issues being discussed. Moving forward there are a range of events that will bring together the public consultations into the Post 2105 edition of the MDG. For example Feb 27-28 will be the 2013 Global MDG Conference in Bogota, Columbia and the topic will be discussed at length at the upcoming 68th UN General Assembly in September of this year.

To follow other Post Rio+20 activities visit

–  How do you incorporate the MDGs in your research and teaching? What are your thoughts on what the post 2015 goals and targets could look like? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. –

Creating more sustainable campuses: Bikes on campus

Bikes are a common sight on business school campuses around the world and are very popular with both students and staff alike. In this edition of “creating more sustainable campuses,” we look at a variety of innovative ways that campuses and the cities that they are located in are becoming more bike friendly.

  • In 2011 the League of American Bicyclists awarded a range of campuses across the US Bike Friendly University Awards. University of California Davis, who was awarded gold, offers Summer Bicycle Storage and regular auctions on campus and on eBay to sell abandoned and unclaimed bicycles. Students also have access to courses on bike repair and maintenance on campus. Other winners included University of Wisconsin-Madison  University of Maryland, University of Colorado.
  • Stanford has over 12,000 bike racks on campus and maps showing bike paths on and off campus. Students also have access to a range of bike safety repair stands where they can make minor repairs and pump their tires for free as well as free rentals of folding bikes. All this is organized by Stanford’s campus bicycle coordinator.
  • The University of Oregon’s Outdoor Program’s Bike Program, which provides bike loans, a free shop, and education on campus, is entirely student funded and operated.
  • In a project designed to increase awareness about alternative modes of transportation, faculty and Staff at Grenoble Ecole de Management in France have access to electric bicycles 4 weeks each year (trial phase), which are reservable for a 24 hour period free of charge. The school also has over 100 covered car parking spaces that have been turned into bike parking for the growing number of bikes on campus.
  • A growing number of schools, including Winchester Business School, offer subsidies and/or interest free loans for staff interested in buying bicycles for their daily commute to campus.
  • Newcastle University in the UK has a self-service bike sharing system called WhipBikes. Faculty and students pay a one-time registration fee that enables them to use any of the 150 bikes scattered across campus. If they want to use a bike, they simply pick the one they want and text its number to WhipBikes, which replies with the lock code for that bike.
  • Cities around the world are putting in free public bike systems, which are being used extensively by students.  At John Molson School of Business, Concordia University students have access to Montreal’s extensive public bike system, which features over 5,000 bikes and 400 stations, many on/near campus. Similar systems can be found on campuses around the world, including in Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam and across Asia.
  • For students from Copenhagen Business School, Norwegian gas company Statoil has equipped five of its stations across the city with Cykelpleje centers dedicated to bicycle maintenance and repair. Students of Pamplin School of Business Administration, University of Portland travelling through Portland International Airport have a special bike repair section in the lower terminal, where they can take apart and reassemble their bikes, as well as several bike paths connecting the airport with the city.

Does your campus promote bike use in an innovative way? Please share your experiences and stories in the comments area below.

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