The Growth of Green School Sustainability Officers

Increasingly colleges and universities are including staff positions devoted toadvancing sustainability on campus. The individuals that occupy thesepositions are sometimes referred to as Sustainable Coordinators orCollege Sustainability Officers. A school sustainability officer issomeone who is responsible for coordination, management, andadministration of the school’s environmental programs. In its simplestessence, this implies the need to reduce the usage of non-renewableresources and better management of existing resources

CollegeSustainability Officers are similar to the Chief Sustainability Officer(CSO) in the corporate world. Other appellations for CSO include:

Director of Sustainability
Environmental Policy Manager
Director of Environment, Energy, & Safety
Director of Social & Environmental Responsibility
Chief Officer of Environment
Social & Environmental Sustainability Manager
Chief of EHS
Chief Green Officer (CGO)
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

A CSO is an executive position within a corporation that is in charge ofthe corporation’s "environmental" programs. Several companies havecreated such positions in the 21st century to formalize their commitment to the environment. As sustainability initiatives have expanded, so has the importance of the position to what is now a C-level executive role.

Examples of CSOs include Charlene Lake at AT&T, Paul Gilman at CovantaEnergy, Linda Fischer at Dupont, Robyn Beavers at Google, Dr. Peter Graf at SAP, Barbara Kux at Siemens, Mike Kelly at YRC Worldwide and IanHill at Openreach. In September 2010, General Mills appointed JerryLynch as their new CSO, and AECOM named Gary Lawrence as the firm’s Vice President and CSO.

As of 2005, nearly all of the 150 largest companies in the world had a sustainability officer with the rank of vice president or higher, and numerous MBA programs had incorporated sustainability training.

According to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, there are now 88 permanent sustainable positions in colleges anduniversities in North America and this number is growing each year.

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