'Penn, we've been looking over your College Sustainability Report Card. While you did well."
"But I got a B! And if not for my F in 'endowment transparency,' which I wasn't allowed to disclose, I would have gotten a B+!"
"We understand, Penn. Just let us talk to you about it for a minute, okay?"
(Hugging a plush Ben Franklin doll) "Fine..."
"Penn, you got a B for 'administration.' We were excited four years ago in 2003 when you became 'the biggest nongovernmental purchaser of renewable energy credits in the country.' Your wind power purchase was a bold step.
"But do you have a sustainability coordinator? Their job is to make an institution as environmentally friendly as possible. Princeton has one. Harvard has one. Dartmouth has one. All the Ivy's have a sustainability coordinator. You need one.
"Penn, it sends a message: 'Environmental sustainability is important to us, and we want someone working on it full time.'
"Now, we also read that you got an A for 'food and recycling,' but we think this is a little generous. Your waste recycling is at 12 percent. That's last in the Ivies and that's almost twice as bad as Brown, who's second worst. Listen to what your senior facilities planner said. 'There's no doubt [Penn] needs to do better. We should be capturing 20 or 25 percent in cans, bottles and paper. That's theoretically possible.'
"Penn, right now each of your building managers has responsibility for his own building's recycling. There's no campus-wide policy, and that's what you need - a uniform plan drafted by the administration telling building managers how to set up their recycling program."
"Oh yeah? What makes you such an expert?"
"This was the recommendation made at October's University Council meeting by the Penn Environmental Group and Green Campus Partnership. They said you should adopt 'top-down policy to facilitate efficient administration of recycling program,' and we agree."
"But it's hard to set up good recycling! There are other, important things to do, too."
"Well, why don't you assign that job to your new sustainability coordinator?"
"What was that, Penn?"
"Okay, you got a B for 'green buildings.' We know you're working on this, and are very happy to see that you're making an effort. Garofalo told us that 'the biggest [green building] project in the city is part of the University hospital [which] is a real accomplishment because it's extraordinarily difficult for hospital [buildings] to meet the LEED (Leadership in Environmental Design) criteria.'
"And you got an A in 'climate change and energy.' Again, your wind power purchase was tremendous. But we're not going to let you off that easy. Now that you're buying clean energy, try to use less of it."
"Hey! Wait a minute, read this first:
Pledging to significantly reduce emissions that contribute to global warming, Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania, announced [Feb. 5] her signing of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment.'
'Penn will develop a comprehensive plan to achieve climate neutrality by reducing campus greenhouse gas emissions and offsetting unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions elsewhere. "This is a defining issue of the 21st century, and I am proud to sign on and promote higher education as a leader in addressing global climate change through research, education and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions," Gutmann said."
"Well, Penn, we're... (sniffles) we're very proud of you. You're the first Ivy to sign this important promise, and you've set an example."
"But you have to keep your promises. Mike Poll, associate director of the Penn Environmental Group, thinks 'A plan for sustainability needs to be supported by infrastructure that will allow it to succeed, and this begins with continuous monitoring of progress by a committee on which students, faculty, the higher administration and senior facilities officials are all represented.'"
"So, Penn, though you got a B overall on your report card this year, you still have a lot of work to do. When the Sustainable Endowments Institute repeats their study next fall we want to see an A next to 'University of Pennsylvania.'
"We know we expect a lot, but you can do it.
"Um... can I go play basketball with Dartmouth now?"
Alex Weinstein is a College senior from Bridgeport, W.Va. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Straight to Hell appears on Thursdays.Comments powered by Disqus
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