Tracking Furman’s Sustainable Initiatives

Even though I am not a Furman student, I feel so humbled by the opportunity to work for the Shi Center this summer. As the assessment fellow I am in charge of keeping track of Furman’s sustainability initiatives through the two assessment systems: the Greenhouse Gas Inventory (GHG) and the Sustainable Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS). It is amazing how much progress Furman has made and I hope that I can facilitate and keep track of even more improvement for Furman this summer.

The two assessment systems are quite different. GHG focuses more on quantitative data and numerical emissions, while STARS emphasizes qualitative information and works more like an elaborate checklist. I spent a large part of my first few weeks figuring out how the systems work, and what Kris, Anne-Marie, and Rebecca did for the 2012 assessments.

I cannot begin to collect all the information for the Greenhouse Gas Inventory just as yet because the 2013 Fiscal Year will not be over until the June 30, 2013 date. So, for the past few weeks I have been doing other sorts of data collection and projects to facilitate the process over the next year. I have put together the improvement overlaps for Sustainable Furman and the STARS credits as well as created lists of programs and parts of campus that can obtain additional STARS credits in order to allow Furman to achieve a Gold STARS rating.

As far as GHG, I have begun to wrap my head around the new online carbon calculator that was formally run through excel. I have already collected information on student populations and athletic mileage thus far, and will continue with more collection and analysis once July arrives.

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One of the highlights has been the Assessment workshop that was run here at the Shi Center for the Duke Endowment schools: J.C. Smith, Davidson and Duke. But Duke was not able to attend. Administration and students from both schools came and learned about how Furman has run its assessments and how these systems can be implemented. I enjoyed connecting with the other students and learning about how sustainability initiatives have differed in the 3 schools.

I am hoping to take what I learn here at Furman and help facilitate sustainable initiatives  at my school, Davidson College.  As I have naturally been doing comparisons, I have found that Furman has a lot to be proud of and schools in the area, including Davidson, should look to Furman for inspiration. I can’t wait to continue on my assessment journey and do what little I can to aid Furman’s sustainable goals and progression.

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