Posted by: LovelyAnomaly | May 17, 2008

Sustainability or Something Like It

The President of UIUC sent out an email regarding sustainability on campus.

I am posting the email, in its (stupidly long) entirety.  


Dear Members of the Campus Community:

In our 2006 strategic plan, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
defined an ambitious strategic intent to undertake a comprehensive set of
efforts focused on sustainability.  That strategic intent is expressed in
the following paragraph from the campus plan:

"Through the Illinois Sustainable Energy and the Environment Initiative we
will assemble other leading universities, corporations and private
enterprises, and government in the state to develop new technologies,
models, and practices that will shape national policy, promote responsible
stewardship of resources, and build the Sustainable Energy and the
Environment Initiative.  In this initiative, we will both pursue the
discoveries of basic science and seek to understand the social aspects of
life in a complex society, focusing on key areas such as power generation
and networks, transportation and portable energy, water supply and use, and
landscapes and urban architecture. We will transform the campus into a
learning laboratory for demonstration of sustainable technologies while we
develop curricula to prepare students with skills required to tackle the
challenges of a sustainable society.  We will position the state of
Illinois as a recognized leader in research, education, and practices to
promote sustainable utilization of energy, water, and land."

At the Board of Trustees meeting, May 17, 2007, Lawrence C. Eppley, Chair
of the Board of Trustees stated the "importance for the University of
Illinois to slow the increase in demand for energy, reduce consumption
where possible, and change business and management  processes in ways that
take energy conservation into account.  He asked the president of the
University and the campus chancellors to recommend a University energy
policy that would position the University as a leader in the State in this

At its meeting on November  14, 2007, the Board of Trustees approved a
University Energy Policy calling on the University to "assume a leadership
role in Illinois and beyond in achieving greater efficiency in energy
production and consumption, in developing renewable energy sources and
reducing greenhouse gas emissions."  Further, it directed that "the
University will expand its teaching, research, and public engagement
programs related to energy production and conservation and alternative and
renewable energy sources."      

Over the past two years, the campus community (students, staff, and
faculty) has fostered an impressive set of activities and programs that
respond to sustainability challenges and opportunities.  A few examples of
these efforts include achieving significant energy savings from
retro-commissioning of key campus buildings, students designing a rain
garden to improve water management in the community, and establishing, in
collaboration with public and private sector partners, the Energy
Biosciences Institute to advance the frontiers of knowledge relating to
bioenergy.  In February, 2008, the campus became a signatory to the
American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment.  	 

The campus activities and programs underway have made important strides
towards achieving the strategic intent of the campus.  Attaining the full
potential of that strategic intent now requires targeted campus-level
organizational support to foster and coordinate growth of campus activities
relating to sustainability.  Therefore, I am establishing two campus
leadership entities, the Campus Sustainability Council and the Office of
Sustainability.  These two entities will operate in an integrated fashion
to provide leadership for the extensive efforts across campus focused on
responding to the societal challenges associated with global climate change
and its potential impacts.  The scope of their activities will be
comprehensive, encompassing not only the academic functions of education,
research, and engagement but also operations of the campus physical

The Campus Sustainability Council, which I will chair, will provide
strategic direction and oversight for sustainability initiatives on campus.
 Relative to opportunities and challenges associated with sustainability,
the Council will be responsible for fostering campus initiatives to empower
tomorrow's societal leaders, reengineer the campus infrastructure and
practices, create knowledge and technology, and engage with external
constituents.  The Director of the Office of Sustainability will serve as
Vice Chair of the Council.  Additional members of the Council will include
the Provost, campus Vice Chancellors, the Executive Director of Campus
Facilities and Services, the Executive Director of the Institute for
Natural Sciences and Sustainability, as well as representatives of the
Environmental Council, the Council of Deans, student groups, and the local

The Office of Sustainability will provide operational leadership to campus
sustainability efforts, significantly enhancing communication and
coordination across the relevant campus domains.  The Office will work
with colleges and other campus units, e.g., the Environmental Council and
student groups such as the Students for Environmental Concerns and the
Student Sustainability Council, to develop and promote opportunities for
engaging faculty and students with the critical environmental, social, and
economic issues of sustainability at this time and into the future. 
Initially comprised of a small staff focused on enhancing communications
and coordination of campus activities, the Office of Sustainability will
have reporting responsibilities to the Office of the Vice Chancellor for
Public Engagement.  Because of the broad scope of its activities, however,
the Office of Sustainability will need to maintain strong linkages to the
entire set of campus administrative units.

The Office of Sustainability has lead responsibility for implementation of
the elements of the campus' strategic plan involving sustainability. 
Selected specific activities of the Office of Sustainability include:

* Achieve the responsibilities associated with the American College and
University Presidents Climate Commitment including development of a
comprehensive plan (with a comprehensive inventory within one year and an
institutional action plan within two years) and initiation of action steps
to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

* Coordinate actions to enhance campus infrastructure and policies relating
to energy use and sustainability with campus academic functions

* Facilitate curricular enhancements, including incorporation of service
learning opportunities in the community, which better prepare students for
leadership and citizenship as society responds to climate change

* Encourage innovative research collaborations focused on creating
knowledge and technologies which will better enable society to reduce
emissions and achieve climate neutrality

* Foster collaboration with external constituencies, including especially
our local communities, to apply broadly the lessons learned from campus
operations and from our knowledge creation activities

* Provide forums by which the broad cultural, social and technological
dimensions of the campus intellectual capacity can engage in meaningful
dialogue regarding the challenges and opportunities associated with

I look forward to working with you to create a sustainable campus that will
serve as a national model.

Warm regards,

Richard Herman

This mailing approved by:
The Office of the Chancellor

I’ll admit that I haven’t even read the entire email.  I think that the President is all talk and nothing else.  You want sustainability on campus?  How about putting some recycling bins in the food court at the Union–instead of upstairs where no one will use them.  

Just a thought. 


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