Monday, March 16, 2009

CSM - Colleges wean off fossil fuels

Some great coverage of the campus sustainability movement in the Christian Science Monitor last week that shows what just a couple of schools from around the country are doing:

The piece includes some positive mention of the ACUPCC, and the work we've been doing at Second Nature to support it, as well as a cool 5-minute video that walks you through Middlebury's new biomass co-generation plant:

It's very similar to the one we toured in Karlskrona in grad school that left us scratching our heads, asking "why aren't we building these in the states??" - very exciting to see that we finally are, and the growth in these trends is so strong. Stay going!

Monday, March 09, 2009

BTH is WorldChanging

A much appreciated colleague and friend, Andrew Outhwaite recently published on WorldChanging some reflections from Hallbarhet - the Australian (and affiliated regional events) sustainability conference / MSLS reunion. The piece focuses on social technologies for moving us more effectively towards sustainability. The importance of community and more effective ways of communicating and working together are central to effective sustainable development. (As Tony Cortese likes to say, "communication in sustainability work is like location in real estate. Communication, communication, communication." Andrew is excellent at studying, understanding, and practicing these tool, techniques and technologies. A quote from the WorldChanging piece:

We are now a global village whether we like it or not, with no enemy except the momentum of our unsustainable culture and the forces of nature we have unleashed. Though individuals need to act strategically, authentically and boldly, acting in isolation is not enough to survive and realise our evolutionary potential. A shift in focus from individual heroes to mass collaborative leadership and action is required, and that shift will challenge our attachment to our primary identities as independent, autonomous actors.

It seems more important than ever to remember that sustainability is not the characteristic of one individual, organisation or nation; rather, it is the result of the whole system. The ultimate challenge for leaders in this space is to push the edges of what we can and must do together, as a community.

The ACUPCC is a great example of the need for these kind of 'technology' - presidents have performed a great act of leadership by signing, and now are faced with the challenge of following-through - which will take ongoing, persistent, dedicated leadership to enable and empower their communities to incorporate sustainability principles into the educaitonal experience of all students, and transform their campuses into climate neutral role models for society. At Second Nature we get a lot of "how to" questions from all kinds of people on ACUPCC questions - they tend to be cloaked in technical questions - about solar power or energy efficiency - but they are really community questions - about how to engage with members of the facilities department, or work with business officiers to employ a 'true cost' economic analysis to investment decisions. It is the most exciting and challenging aspect of sustainability work and too often buried under the converstaions about technological performance and top-down policy decisions.

For more of Andrew's writing and work, see his Arising website.

Stay going.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Free, online "Intro to Sustainable Engineering" course from BTH

Gotta love those Swedes, offering more awesome education for free -- see below for an announcement of a new distance learning course from BTH, sans tuition. Also lacking of course the other benefits of actually studying in Sweden, but could be a great fit for any engineers out there:

We are excited to announce the limited opening of a Bachelor-level distance course called Introduction to Sustainable Engineering. This free online course will run from April 17th - June 25th, 2009.
Applications open soon (March 6th), for only two weeks. They tend to fill up extremely quickly, so please let them know asap.
The course explores these key aspects:

Module 1: Core Concepts of Strategic Sustainable Development (SSD)

• Today’s environmental problems from a systems perspective

• The cyclical processes in nature vs. the linear use of materials in today’s society

• How to use a systems view and strategic planning for sustainable development

• Principles of sustainability stemming from basic science: thermodynamics, energy, biological systems and social systems

Module 2: Examination of Engineering Applications for Sustainability

• Application of SSD framework to:

> Energy Systems & Transport

> Sustainable Product Development

> Environmental Management Systems & Regulatory Frameworks

> Life Cycle Analysis

Please visit the following website for more information ):

Stay going...