Those who teach can do
The old saying goes that 'those who can, do; those who can't, teach'. With corporate responsibility it is important that this negative view of teachers and scholars does not gain further support. The authenticity of academic institutions professing responsible business, manifested by how they themselves operate responsibly, is important. Although not yet an explicit principle, the UN PRME explains how signatories 'understand that our own organizational practices should serve as example of the values and attitudes we convey to our students'.9 Fortunately during 2007 there were signs of significant progress in one area of this: the environment.
In June, the leaders of 284 American colleges and universities from 45 states which represent about 15% of the country's higher-education institutions announced the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, a pact that urges educational institutions to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. Their pact calls for development of a plan to achieve climate neutrality as soon as possible, as well as publicly reporting the action plan, inventory of carbon emissions, and periodic progress. Signatories are required to choose at least two actions from a list including building all new constructions to at least the US Green Building Council's LEED Silver standard, supporting shareholder resolutions addressing climate change and sustainability issues in companies in which the school invests, and purchasing energy from renewable resources.10
Earlier in the year, BusinessWeek magazine announced 'The Greening of America's Campuses',11 while the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) revealed 'an explosion of activity around sustainability on campuses across the US and Canada'. More than 600 environmental projects were reported on North American campuses during the previous year. The combined green power purchases of the top ten higher-education purchasers in the US tripled in 2006. AASHE's own growth during 2006 mirrored the trends highlighted in the report, with membership having more than quintupled since the beginning of the year.12