Ten Years of Organizing For Sustainability
Emergent, Cross Sectoral Collaboration
Over the last 10 years Willamette’s approach to organizing its sustainability efforts has been key to their adoption and expansion. Former President Pelton initiated a process that sought to improve buy-in and avoid resistance by first encouraging voluntary participation by administrative units, faculty, and students (WEST, 2001-2004). Initial successes during this period included energy efficiency upgrades, green purchasing guidelines, changes in food purchases and cafeteria operations, and student initiated projects ranging from sustainability independent studies to student-led campaigns to change consumptive behaviors. During these early years, trustees and the administration also undertook several major sustainability initiatives, including adoption of sustainable construction guidelines and the decision to build Kaneko Hall to LEED Gold certification.
After its appointment in 2005, the Sustainability Council formalized a structure based on garnering broad participation and buy-in across all sectors of the university through Council representation and annual retreats. Such has been instrumental in promoting and facilitating new sustainability initiatives across the university, from individual course adoptions and sustainability certificate creation (e.g., LAW and MBA), to certified organic landscaping and sustainability orientation for all new employees. This “bottom-up” approach has been matched by significant and directed efforts from the President’s office and Board of Trustees, such as the creation of the Center for Sustainable Communities (2007) the purchase of Zena Forest (2008), LEED Gold construction of Ford Hall (2009), and affiliation with CLI/TRIG (2011).