Since its inception in 2007, 640 College or University Presidents have signed the American Colleges and Universities Presidents Climate Commitment.
Truth be told, people who do what I do for a living are asked to sign things all of the time. From climate commitments to theological statements, it seems like quite a few University Presidents do a lot of signing. I’m not one of them.
I’m not one of them because I don’t believe that most people care about who signs what. However, I do believe that many people care about actual results.
Committing to results with consequences as opposed to signing a piece of paper that has no teeth seems to be what the work of leadership should be about.
Take the topic of conservation, for example.
As I hope is the case for most Americans, I care about our planet. I care about the world we live in: the quality of the water, air, and soil. I was reading a passage from the book of Genesis the other morning and, after the flood when God gave Noah dominion over the earth, God also reminded Noah that he was “accountable” to both the earth and the animals over which he had influence.
Accountability was God’s word for stewardship.
I was invited by one of our really neat professors to speak to a J-Term class about the University’s commitment to environmental stewardship.
Dr. Hoffman is a great teacher and a fine researcher. He’s passionate about issues surrounding water quality, and is helping to prepare some of the best environmental stewards in our state and country through our Environmental Science program.
Professor Hoffman is also a pretty good communicator, and he has built his seminar around what he calls “the three P’s” of environmental stewardship:
People. Profit. Planet.
My purpose was to discuss how the University of Dubuque considers environmental issues in its decision making process.
The example I used was the new building in which my office is located. The Charles and Romona Myers Center is 40,000 square feet. During Iowa winters when we have a wind-chill of about 20-below zero, there’s a lot of heating going on!
Our team discussed the risks and rewards of a conventional HVAC system verses a Geo-thermal heating/cooling system. We learned that a conventional HVAC system would cost about $130,000 less than a Geo-thermal system that extracted heat out of the earth in the winter and coolness out of the earth in the summer.
However, we calculated that the Geo-thermal system would save about $40,000 per year in energy costs for just this one building. Therefore, the Geo-thermal system would pay for itself in a little over three years.
With such a short pay-back horizon, it made good fiscal AND environmental sense to go Geo-thermal. Since its inception, we’ve saved about $350,000 in energy costs PLUS we’ve taken better care of our environment.
That’s a win-win!
By practicing the 3-P’s of conservation (People. Profit. Planet.), there is a way to be “accountable” for our actions and good financial stewards as well.
The best teams achieve results which, when rightly enacted, are a win-win for everyone.