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
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.