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green@work : Magazine : Back Issues : Sep/Oct 2007 : Between Blue & Yellow

Between Blue and Yellow

The ABC's of Green

by Angela Childers, guest editor

any of the country’s greatest social movements have been rooted in college student activism. Student bodies from campuses across the country marched together to promote civil rights and equality for all. A little more than a decade later, students banded again to protest a war. Today, the leaders of the sustainability movement are advocating change at their universities.

In this issue of green@work, Dennis Walsh explains how college students have been the major drivers of sustainability. Not only are these students rallying together to hold information sessions, plant trees, and encourage their campuses to recycle and use less electricity, they also have prompted colleges to make sustainability an important part of the curricula. Throughout the United States, universities are now competing to add environmental components to classes in fields such as architecture, interior design and urban planning. After all, these schools will be creating tomorrow’s environmental authorities.

This push toward a green education is creeping into graduate schools as well. At Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, MBA students will soon be required to take multiple foundation courses showcasing sustainability and ethics. These classes will introduce the students to the world of green design, social innovation and the importance of socially responsible investing. Professors at the university hope other MBA programs follow their lead by making environmental responsibility a feature component of their pupils’ business school educations.

Tomorrow’s college students won’t need an introduction to the sustainability movement if more schools embrace green design like Great Seneca Creek Elementary School in Montgomery County, Md. Students at this green school don’t just learn about environmental responsibility—they live and practice sustainability every day. Students clamor to join the Great Seneca Creek recycling team and learn in classrooms with vegetated green roof and natural-lighting features. Their school even showcases water-efficient plumbing features.

Although it can cost a bit more to erect these green schools, Great Seneca Creek is seeing noticeable savings on its utility bills, and students spend the day in an inviting, healthy atmosphere that promotes learning.

In the workplace, companies are also trying to create a healthier environment as a way to increase productivity. Consulting firm Digitas made sustainability a priority when it designed its office space. The company embraced natural lighting and installed energy-friendly heating and cooling systems that also noted carbon dioxide levels in the room. As a result, employee productivity has increased while employee absenteeism has dropped.

Companies that follow Digitas’ lead also make themselves more attractive to their clients—and potential investors. Today, many investment firms are developing portfolios that not only will make their clients money, but help the environment as well. Companies across the country are trying to appeal to this group of individuals looking for green investment opportunities. With today’s children learning about the importance of sustainability at the elementary school level and the environmental movement taking place on college campuses, this group of socially responsible investors will continue to grow. Hopefully, their demand for “green” will continue to push this environmental revolution.


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