sustainable campus

Deliberate Tech to Create a Sustainable Campus

sustainable campus

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on our partner site Today’s Campus Magazine – Covering the people, campuses, and companies that are making business news in higher education.

Every college on the planet has taken steps toward sound, sustainable practices, but for that matter, so has every business, household, etc. The little things, like using both sides of the copy paper or highlighting reusable utensils as an option in the cafeteria, are becoming more mainstream.

The problem is, these types of processes are all manual; students and faculty need to make a deliberate choice to help you help the environment each time they use the resource. The most efficient green decisions are ones you can make once and automate for the future, with a campus-wide effect.

Let’s focus on a few obvious problem areas which have relatively simple fixes. The first two are easily actionable, so you really have no excuse not to step-up and implement them. The last will require an investment of time and money, but should yeild the highest returns.

Paper

Did you know that your institution’s proprietary content (i.e. campus newsletter, magazine, newspaper, catalog) can be “published” beautifully online, privately or publicly, completely free? I didn’t know about youblisher until a friend of mine texted me, asking about publishing in a digital magazine format. I started looking around, and couldn’t help but sign-up for every service I could find to spot the differences.

So far, (despite the name) youblisher is my favorite. The process is super simple: upload a PDF and they churn-out a link for you to share or embed. It gives you a virtual magazine, with beautiful page flip animations. How much would it save your school to publish next year’s course catalog exclusively online instead of in print? As I mentioned, there are quite a few services like this out there for this, so it’s possible to find the right fit for any institution.

Presentations

Getting someone’s meeting or lecture notes and slides can be close to impossible after the fact. If you do get them, good luck making that .key play in PowerPoint. Because of this, we’ve taken to mass printing slides (or sharing them as PDFs, which destroys the whole point of a presentation). SlideShare makes these problems disappear. (Aside: it’s also a great source for open content!) Never worry again about trying to get your presentation reference sheet to the 4 people in the room who requested them. Tell your faculty there’s a better way to share lecture slides.

Before you even present, upload everything to SlideShare. It’s a quick process and allows you to set your privacy settings for each file. Set everything to public for the easiest, non-controlled method of distribution. Otherwise, share the link privately to keep it locked-down. They offer a wide range of features and benefits, with plans starting at “free,” so experimenting is risk-free.

Transportation

How do your faculty and students get to campus, and once they’re there, how do they get around? If your institution is in a major US city, you may already be familiar with B-cycle, a bike rental system. How it works: you go to a kiosk, swipe your credit card, take a bike from the rack, ride to the kiosk closest to your destination, and “return” the bike at that location. Again, they have competitors, but I only have personal experience with their service.

If your college is located in a city that already has B-cycle stations, and the sprawl of your campus warrants an alternative to walking, this would be optimal. This would be an excellent way for faculty and students to get to and from campus, if they’re located a few miles off and public transit isn’t an easy option. And since the B-cycle bikes are outfitted with GPS and other high-tech features, they’re nearly impossible to steal or lose. Just think how cool and accessible your campus will be by incorporating a technology like this. B-cycle would even improve your connectedness to the local community, another huge plus.

Of course, as with anything, the largest part of these changes is the willingness to make them. You’re administration is already leading by example since they cut plastic bags from the bookstore checkout. This and any other steps you take will empower the administrators, faculty and students, to make changes in their own lives on campus. Do your decisions prove your institution is focusing on green education technology?

Lida is the cofounder and COO of two edtech startups, Ginkgotree and PaperDesk. Her personal writing targets marketing and branding strategy, while her writing on Ginkgotree’s blog focuses on melding best business practices with modern teaching and learning. As a marketing consultant, she helps startups develop their voice and image. She enjoys life in Ann Arbor, MI with her best friend, husband and cofounder. You can follow her on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.