This is my senior year and also the third year that I’ll be working on Furman’s campus assessments the greenhouse gas assessment (GHG report) and the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS). Although its strange to say this is my last year of reporting for Furman, I’m quite excited about this years reporting. Previously, years that we submitted both STARS and a GHG report had two fellows to work on the job. This year we have three students working on the projects and me helping guide anyone who doesn’t understand any aspects of the process. Having the extra hands working for the project both means we should be able to finish a little earlier than usual, and that we’ll be able to do more once we’ve finished.
Ordinarily after submitting the reports to The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) and to the The American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) the fellow will still have a little work left to do. We still have to decipher any changes in the emissions, try our best to understand whether the emissions factors that the calculator uses have changed, a policy has changed, or the specific action which causes emissions has actually become more efficient. Collecting and presenting all of this information is crucial so that people understand how we’re making progress on campus and what changes have been successful. Lastly the fellow must write a brief report detailing how the assessment was done so any new fellows will be able to understand and follow their work.
Only after all of this is done can a fellow begin to work on one of the most interesting aspects of the position. Plans forward, possible improvements to look into, changes other schools have made which could be replicated at Furman. All of these are also part of what a fellow can do and it gives the fellow a real chance to look for meaningful changes with real impacts that Furman could make. With so many fellows working towards assessment this year I really look forward to having more time for looking at these possibilities. Even more importantly for me, we have more opinions and perspectives when looking at the future and possibilities for Furman. Although the work has only just begun, I look forward to one more year of good reporting full of interesting information and number crunching. Having a group of younger fellows start this work too just makes it more interesting and I hope that they enjoy this coming year’s work as well.