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The long road to sustainability at Miami

President Crawford decided to sign the PCLC. Here’s a roadmap to understand how we got here

Adam Sizemore sits in the dark.

Down a narrow hallway of the Physical Facilities Department, behind a heavy door wired to a buzzing lock — one that can only be opened when an administrative assistant is at the window — Miami University’s Sustainability Director leans back in his office chair. The low afternoon sunlight comes through the blinds, dusting pieces of the room, the rest in comfortable shadow.

“I figure, why waste electricity, right?” he said. 

Sizemore came to Miami in July 2018 as the sole member of the Sustainability Department. Before that, there was a push for sustainability efforts on campus beginning in 2008, when Yvette Kline was the Sustainability Director. 

After she left, two years went by while Miami failed to staff the department. Multiple hiring searches came up empty because Miami couldn’t find who they were looking for to lead the department in a new direction, David Creamer, Miami’s vice president for finance and business services and treasurer, said. The synergy built between the university and student groups on campus dwindled without a leader. 

“My first two months was really just going through Yvette’s old files and understanding what sustainability was at Miami, and that’s something that I still think I can continue to learn about,” Sizemore said back in April 2019. 

Sizemore spent his first year on campus trying to pick up where the progress had left off. He initiated a battery recycling program across campus. He calculated Miami’s carbon footprint. He spent three months just submitting data for Miami’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) report, which is used as a “transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance,” according to the reporting system’s website

“You want to talk about the best way to learn a university, is this right here,” Sizemore said, gesturing toward his dimly-lit computer screen displaying the STARS report. “As someone that’s in this position that just has no idea where any of these things are and who all these people are, that has really helped me connect with people and network across the university.”

Despite all of the data he submitted for the STARS report, though, Sizemore said he still doesn’t know how to benchmark Miami against its peer institutions. Sizemore said Miami's isolation among endless acres of corn makes it hard to compare to peer institutions. However, Miami certainly isn’t the only university to face this set of problems.

But the whole point of STARS is to provide a common measurement system for campuses across the country. Miami was among 126 institutions to receive a gold rating. Only five universities have achieved the highest ranking — platinum.

However, the main component of STARS — self-reporting — can easily lend itself to creating a less-comprehensive understanding of how sustainable a campus truly is.

Now, over the course of the last year, Miami has weighed whether to pursue a different standard — the Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitment (PCLC). 

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In January 2019, President Greg Crawford charged the University Sustainability Committee with determining whether the PCLC was worth signing and whether Miami should strive to become the most sustainable university in the U.S.

The PCLC is a nationwide commitment pioneered by Second Nature, a nonprofit that aims to help higher education institutions eliminate carbon emissions, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and deal with a changing climate. By signing the agreement, Crawford would be agreeing to complete a Climate Action Plan that would include a target date for carbon neutrality, among other things, and agreeing to submit annual progress reports and pay dues to the organization. 

“[The charge] simply asked us to evaluate the commitment and what [carbon neutrality] would mean under the commitment,” Sizemore said.

So, Sizemore said, the committee spent six months compiling information on the PCLC and carbon neutrality. But on the question of whether Crawford should sign the pact, it didn’t make a recommendation. 

The committee's report  was delivered to Crawford’s desk on June 1, 2019. 

***

Since then, Miami’s commitment to sustainability has been hanging in the balance while Crawford weighed whether to sign the PCLC. 

In the meantime, the administration touted the university’s existing sustainability measures through a dedicated webpage, which explains Miami’s commitment to sustainability through its “academic programs, physical campus and operations, and university mission by promoting environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and economic viability for current and future generations.”

The university promotes photos of students and a professor examining water for a biology lab; people installing an array of solar panels; students inspecting vegetables grown at the Institute for Food, Miami’s sustainable farm. Two of the three photos feature the Institute for Food as the pinnacle of Miami’s sustainability efforts, though its financial support from the university has been unpredictable year-by-year. 

Crawford even mentioned Miami’s sustainability efforts in his December 2019 commencement address, saying Miami “more than a decade ago dreamed of moving away from coal and its harmful emissions, to clean, geothermal energy. Now, after significant investment, we celebrate reductions in energy, our carbon footprint compared to our peers, and we haven’t burned coal for nearly three years. We are building on that for a carbon neutral future.”

As a student who has taken a number of sustainability-focused classes, and as a journalist who has heard more than a few sustainability-related campus rumors, I wasn’t sure this was the full story. 

So I set out to find it. 

I spent several months interviewing key stakeholders, hoping to discover what Miami’s sustainability efforts look like in action, rather than in its advertising. 

***

In September 2019, Miami students held a climate strike outside the Marcum Hotel and Conference Center. Crawford and the Miami Board of Trustees (BoT) were confronted by hundreds of students asking the university to do something about climate change. 

At that time, Crawford insisted the PCLC was not the only answer. 

“The goal is that we think of [the PCLC] as the minimum of what we want to do … It’s not what if, it’s how you get there,” Crawford said then. 

Around the same time, Crawford charged the Sustainability Committee with another task: to “further research and explore additional details that could shape an internal plan for Miami University to achieve carbon neutrality,” according to a copy of the charge provided to The Miami Student.

The charge included objectives such as providing case examples of other higher education institutions in their search for achieving carbon neutrality, specifically including the University of Michigan and American University; comparing the proposed internal plan with that outlined by the PCLC; and discovering ways to produce carbon offsets. 

After the climate strike, director of university news and communications Claire Wagner emphasized that Miami was not putting off its sustainability decision. 

“While we explore these options, we continue to surpass many of our goals and set higher ones. We will continue our numerous commitments for sustainability,” Wagner wrote in an email to The Miami Student. 

The Sustainability Committee had to deliver a drafted recommendation between the two pathways to Crawford’s desk by Jan. 1, 2020. The final report was submitted a month later, wherein the committee recommended Crawford sign the PCLC.

***

“[The initial charge] kind of took my attention for the remainder of the whole semester,” Sizemore said of the latter half of his first year on campus. 

Despite that high-priority task, Sizemore also found time to re-enter Miami in the 2019 Recyclemania competition.

“You’re probably going to laugh at this, but to do that, I went dumpster diving for eight weeks every day,” Sizemore said, grinning. “I went to every dumpster. I didn’t, like, dig through it, but I eyeballed it.”

He’d then estimate what percentage of the dumpster was full. Ultimately, Sizemore guessed Miami throws away about 18 pounds of recycling per capita, ranking the university 39th out of 215 schools in how much waste is recycled. 

He turned his computer screen toward me to proudly display the Recyclemania results. 

“I’m a little lost,” I said.

As I looked at the screen, the numbers didn’t seem to add up. Miami may recycle a lot of waste. But that means it could create more waste — it’s not an automatic measure of greater sustainability.

“Even though we recycle more of it, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re being more sustainable,” I said.

Sizemore paused, clicking around his screen for a moment before shrugging. 

“Yeah, that’s a good catch. I mean, you know, obviously I want people to recycle as much as possible, but I think the important thing is to find ways to reduce in the first place,” he said, pausing. 

“But that was the nature of the competition, so I couldn’t do anything about that.”

As the only full-time staff member in the sustainability department, Sizemore said there were a number of things he didn’t have the bandwidth to do anything about. Two graduate students now each work 22 hours a week for Sizemore. One of them primarily works on Recyclemania. 

With all of the budgetary issues Miami currently faces, it’s no surprise the department is understaffed.

“Miami may come around,” Sizemore said, wincing and correcting himself. “Not come around — be interested in — having more staff … I think Miami has a really strong dedication to sustainability.”

Sizemore entered Miami in Recyclemania for the 2020 cycle, again. 

The push is more visible on campus, with stickers on coffee sleeves proclaiming “Let’s recycle more than Ohio University!” in Cafe Lux, on-campus Starbucks locations and Uptown in Kofenya. Sizemore put those stickers there himself, with the help of his wife and one of his student assistants, Cecil Okotah. Okotah has been spotted driving a utility golf cart around campus sporting a Recyclemania banner exclaiming the same thing. 

There’s even a Recyclemania “gameday” scheduled for Friday, March 6. 

***

Last spring, Sizemore wanted to know how much organic waste is created at Miami, so he went to Amelie Davis’ Sustainability Practices Service Learning Course for help.

Davis is an associate professor in the Department of Geography and the Institute for the Environment and Sustainability. She keeps her office lights off, but the windows let in the breadth of the afternoon sunlight, dappling the carpeted floor.  

“I’m sorry it’s freezing in here,” Davis said, laughing. “I don’t think they’ve turned the heat on yet, so we’ll just be chilly for awhile.”

Davis felt the service learning course was an opportunity to solve real-world sustainability problems in a single semester. So she assigned a group in the course last spring to tackle Sizemore’s task. 

“We were interested in looking at how much food waste there was on campus,” Davis said, “and then finding the greenhouse gas emissions associated with that food waste and finding ways to mitigate that.”

Her students reviewed literature on how other universities have dealt with organic waste. They also reviewed data and case studies to inform how they’d replicate their findings on Miami’s campus. 

But, when it was time to go into the dining halls and university catering operations to quantify food waste at Miami, the students hit a wall. 

At first, Davis said, Dining Services was receptive to the students’ efforts because they wanted to optimize their systems as part of Miami’s "Lean" program.

Lean is a university-wide “systematic method” for the elimination of waste, in all senses of the term, that was first implemented in 2009, according to the Miami Finance and Business services webpage. It’s basically a way to streamline everything to eliminate excess — especially excess spending. 

Of course, the humane response to excess food should be to give it to those who need it, Davis said. But she said that’s not why Miami was interested — the university just wanted to minimize costs.

Davis’ students were told they couldn’t come in and measure the food waste. When they asked if dining workers could put the food waste in a separate receptacle for the students to collect, they were told they couldn’t do that, either.

“Students tried hard. But we never cracked that nut,” Davis said.

Davis grimaced, remembering how hard her students tried to get the data they needed to complete the project. 

“Having support from the university when you’re doing a project for them, you know, I thought was a given,” Davis said. “So it was definitely eye-opening to me to be like, ‘Okay, we’re not gonna play nice with each other, despite being at the same institution and, I think, having the same goals.’ So I don’t know how frustrated the students were, but I was frustrated for them.”

But the students wouldn’t have been in that position had Sizemore, as their client, not asked them to do this project in the first place. 

“So, based on the fact that he was asking for this project, why was dining pushing back?” I asked.

Davis took a moment to think. She tapped her fingers along the side of her face, then set her hands on her desk.

“Well, that, I suppose, is a question that should be posed to the president of the university, really,” Davis said.

When asked, Crawford said he was not aware of the obstacles Davis’ students had faced. 

Davis said at the time that her students went to Sizemore for support, letting him know that Geno Svec and Brent Mason in Dining Services had not welcomed their questions. 

“I don’t recall a problem in the data collection,” Sizemore said. 

Neither Svec nor Mason returned repeated requests for comment.

“But it was [Sizemore’s] first year on the job,” Davis said. “I think he probably didn’t know who to contact yet, or how much to push back on things, or what he gets to ask and not ask — you know what I mean? … Honestly, I didn’t expect the pushback.”

Mason, Davis explained, told the students that the dining halls were severely understaffed, so it would be impossible to collect the data they needed. 

Davis reasoned that it ultimately comes down to an institutional change. 

“Would it cost a little money? Yeah, but when a carbon tax comes, that’s gonna cost a lot more money,” Davis said.

Davis’ students considered dumpster diving for the information they needed.

“You’d take the bags out, sort it, and see what’s food waste and what’s not,” Davis said, grinning. “You’d wear gloves, two sets if you have to, and measure it and find the volume.”

“Wait, did you guys actually do that?” I asked.

No, they didn’t.

They would have needed “all sorts of approvals,” Davis said, and by the time they got them, the semester was over. 

While Dining Services wasn’t willing to provide the data or the means to collect it, other departments on campus were more forthcoming with data on the organic waste they generate. Davis’ students used that, combined with their assumptions of what our food waste looks like, to put together what they could for their report to Sizemore. 

The students used generalized data on food waste per swipe and combined that with what Dining Services did provide them — the number of swipes per week — to roughly estimate what the results might have been if they had been able to measure the food waste themselves. 

“You hear from some people, ‘Oh, Miami should be a leader in sustainability,’ but not everyone is on board,” Davis said. 

“But you need everyone on board. It’s great to have that vision, but you also have to have follow-through, and you also have to have cooperation. And we’re not there yet. And we need to be. And I don’t know how you get there. But we need to think about how you get there because otherwise we’re gonna miss that boat, really.”

Davis laughed and then shrugged. She does the best she can, she said. 

“I personally think the university could be doing more,” Davis said. “Just sitting here, looking around. Why aren’t our parking lots covered in solar panels? Why can’t we do it? Explain that to me. Why, every time I walk past a trash bin, are there a bunch of recyclables in there? Are people confused? There are certain things that do baffle me.”

***

The sun beat down one late afternoon in September, pushing the heat close to 90 degrees. The Institute for Food spread out before us, crops wilting in the heat, the sandy dirt rising in clouds of dust as we walked. Southwest Ohio was in the middle of a drought, and it showed. 

“Come stand over here, try to keep to the shade if you can,” Charles Griffin said. As the director of the farm’s production and operations, he knows a thing or two about keeping cool in the late summer heat. 

“This is why I always wear baggy, light colors,” Griffin explained, fanning himself. “I may look a bit ragged, but that’s what working in the dirt does to a person.”

Everything the farm produces is organic and sustainably produced. There’s a compost bin near the entrance to the farm and an array of solar panels to propel the watering system set up near the farthest end of the field. 

“This is the only place on campus that composts, and we have the only solar panels at Miami,” he said, gesturing toward the small solar array.

Everything is hand-planted and harvested by the farm’s three-person full-time staff with the help of Miami students carted out to the farm in a rickety and rusted red Dodge van every semester for various science courses.

As a student in IES 278L: Introduction to Food Systems and Food Studies last fall, I often found myself at the farm.

Griffin briefly explained how the farm can’t sell its produce at the local farmer’s market, and the university doesn’t buy it, either. Local farmers banded together to protect the market from the university-run farm, because they thought it would threaten their ability to do business.

So, because the farm’s budget from the university is reset every year, and there’s no guarantee how much they’ll get each time, the farm had to look to another avenue for supplemental income. 

Community members can purchase a community-supported agriculture subscription, buying themselves seasonal produce delivered weekly while financially supporting the farm. The Institute for Food heavily relies on this support to keep the farm going. 

“It’s a shame, though, that the university doesn’t use our produce on campus, but that’s a long story,” Griffin said. 

 

***

Peggy Shaffer has run the Institute for Food since the farm’s beginning. She’s a professor of history and global intercultural studies at Miami. 

Shaffer said when the farm began in 2015, Dining Services was closely involved in the interview process for the farm manager. Dining Services also worked with the farm to put their salsas into Miami’s marketplaces. 

“We were hoping early on that it would make sense that Dining Services would just buy our produce, and they could incorporate it in,” Shaffer said. 

That didn’t happen, though.

A few years ago, Miami catering was planning President David Hodge’s retirement dinner. They asked the farm to grow some greens, radishes and potatoes to be served in the meal. But after the farm delivered and received payment for the produce, the partnership fractured. 

“The rumor that we were told was that the President’s Office decided not to use it,” Shaffer said.  “So I don’t know if it actually got used because I wasn’t there. But that’s what came back to us.”

Miami uses no produce from the Institute for Food except the packaged salsas made with the farm's produce and sold in MacCracken Market.

But it looks like that may change soon. 

Shaffer said David Creamer, Miami’s senior vice president for finance and business services and treasurer, recently reached out to see if the farm might be able to work with Dining Services once again.

Shaffer was optimistic that, with this offer from Creamer, the farm might be able to have a larger role on campus after all this time. 

Shaffer said the farm’s pilot program will, by the end of this semester, provide around 25 pounds of mixed lettuce a week to Dining Services. Its first harvest was delivered to Dividends on Wednesday, Feb. 5.

“I read a recent story that was talking about vertical farming,” Creamer said, explaining why he was inspired to rekindle the relationship. “It just prompted me to want to get the group back together again with some of these ideas.”

Shaffer said the biggest obstacle the farm has in partnering with Dining Services is volume: there’s no way the farm can produce enough without receiving more support from the university.

The farm doesn’t have electricity or classroom space and uses well water for everything. One of the greenhouses the Institute for Food was given to meet the lettuce demand of the dining halls this semester was initially out of commission — so they had a slow start growing the lettuce for the pilot program. 

Also, there’s no way to produce kitchen-grade produce that’s triple washed without a certified kitchen — and that would cost the university money to construct. 

In effect, it’s an inescapable cycle unless something — or someone — gives. 

“I think if students care about these things, then the university will move on them,” Shaffer said. “And I know it's really hard when students are trying to fulfill all sorts of requirements … But we're at a critical moment.”

***

The greenest technology on Miami’s main campus — touted on nearly every sustainability page on the university website — is geothermal heating and cooling. 

Ten buildings on Miami’s Western campus use the system, which is housed in the Geothermal Plant on Western Drive. That equates to about half a million square feet of facilities. The building is encased by windows on every side so passers-by can see the curlicue red, blue and green pipes that overhang the main atrium in a mess of piped spaghetti.

But when you walk inside, you realize there’s an order to everything.  

“This is kind of like my kingdom,” Larry Davidson said. “People call it my McDonald’s playland.”

Davidson is Miami University’s Hydronics Systems Operations Manager. The pump system hums loudly inside the plant, but his southern Ohio twang rings clear above it. 

“I definitely feel ownership, you know, I figure it’s my house,” Davidson said. “People tell me I’m a neat freak. But when people show up, I don’t wanna be worried that I need to get it cleaned up.” 

That sense of ownership is due in part to the fact that Davidson has been with the geothermal plant from the start in 2014. It’s also just a function of who he is. 

“I like to keep things clean,” he said as he led me to the main office. The whole place was pristine.

Miami plans to add five more buildings to the geothermal system by 2026, including Shideler Hall, Kumler Chapel, Peabody Hall, McKee Hall and Thomson Hall. 

Miami’s geothermal system could immediately adapt if Miami were to move to a green electricity source, like solar or wind, Davidson explained. 

“Geothermal is just exchanging energy from the ground loop temperature,” he said, so it always needs to be powered by the grid in some capacity to run. 

Miami hopes to have about 40 percent of all campus buildings on the geothermal system by 2026. There will eventually be a wellfield under Millett's parking lot to connect that half of campus to the system.

“I think there’s a study out there on campus, it would take 200 acres of solar to power the campus,” Davidson said. “I really believe Miami would look at that capability if someone stepped up and said, ‘Hey, we’ll assist,’ or whatever … It costs money to save money … people say ‘Oh, look how much it costs.’ Well, yeah, but look at your payback.”

Until then, Miami will continue to rely on natural gas and coal power, despite the repeated assertion that the university has not burned any coal since 2017. 

According to Miami’s 2019 STARS report, 49.8 percent of Miami’s electricity comes from coal. And, according to Miami’s sustainability page, the university has reduced carbon emissions by 44 percent, but Sizemore said that isn’t accurate, and it’s closer to 51 percent. 

Regardless, while coal may not be burned directly at Miami, and we no longer have a 7,000-ton pile of coal set aside for a rainy day, coal is still powering our campus — and the impact of burning that coal is still happening, just to a community we can’t see.

STARS reports that only 4.19 percent of energy consumed by Miami’s campus comes from clean or renewable resources. 

Davidson took the time to painstakingly explain to me how geothermal works, pulling out all the stops to do so — light-up diorama and powerpoint included. 

“Oh, wow, that’s a lot,” I said as he pushed a button to demonstrate the underground coldwater flows represented by glowing tubes built into a replica of Western campus. 

“They always say the customer is number one at Miami — and it’s the students,” Davidson said, gesturing to the little bathroom shower replica on top of the diorama. “So I gotta make sure they’ve got their hot water for their showers, you know, and stuff like that. So, just making sure they’re getting what they’re paying for. I really like the job.”

He pulled up the powerpoint and explained how Miami PFD lives and dies by the kBTU, or thousand British Thermal Units, on campus. It’s a way to measure the amount of heat needed to raise one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit. 

Or, put more bluntly, it’s how much energy Miami spends money on. 

“It’s all about the dollar,” Davidson said. “Miami is a great place. I’m just amazed on what they do, how they really watch pennies. I mean, you got to, I guess. Watching them say, ‘Hey, we’ve got to do everything we can.’ You know, Lean, they really stress that. Being as Lean as possible. They love processes.”

So does Miami aim to save energy or to save money?

“If you don’t save the energy, you don’t save the money,” Davidson said. “I’d say they’re prioritizing saving energy so they can save the money.”

He paused for a moment, then added, “It’s definitely all about energy.”

***

Across campus in Roudebush Hall, David Creamer is the one who weighs finances versus clean energy calculations at Miami. 

“The financial piece — it’s always a tradeoff we have to be willing to consider … Some of the initiatives can add costs, so we have to weigh that in regards to other priorities at the university,” Creamer said.  

As for sustainability versus finance, Creamer said, “I don’t see one as being prioritized over the other. I’m asked to deliver on both, and I do.”

One of those calculations is whether Miami can afford to move toward solar power. But it turns out the cost is only one of the obstacles. It also comes down to continually-evolving technology and finding enough space for the panels themselves. 

“We have to ask ourselves — can we estimate where we’ll be in the future and when the right time is to jump in?” Creamer said.

Ultimately, Creamer said, Miami will eventually move to solar in some capacity. It just might be awhile before we find the space on campus to do so.

“We don’t have a lot of large, flat roofs where we can locate the panels because the nature of our buildings makes it that way,” Creamer said. “Changing our buildings hasn’t been part of the assumption at this point. The reality is, it would pretty dramatically change the appearance of our buildings and that’s a conversation that would need to occur with the board and others about some long-standing architectural design commitments.” 

But even if Miami moves to solar in some form, Creamer said he doubts Miami will ever be carbon neutral.

“In reality, there’s probably not a strategy that would lead to carbon neutrality today without some further innovation,” Creamer said. “While we can go out and purchase carbon offsets, the reality is we’re still sitting here drawing our power from energy sources that are not carbon neutral.”

He said he hopes that may change some day at Miami. Until then, he’ll keep weighing those calculations. 

***

At the same meeting in January 2019 where Crawford charged the University Sustainability Committee with evaluating the PCLC, university administrators debated whether Miami should aspire to become the most sustainable university in the U.S.

In April 2019, Sizemore was reluctant to explain what his position is on the matter. 

“You’re the person clearly in the position to know the most about sustainability here,” I said. “What is your personal recommendation? It doesn’t have to reflect the committee; it doesn’t have to reflect anyone else. What do you believe?”

Sizemore leaned back in his chair again, sucking in air as he considered his answer. 

“Um, so there’s a lot of other stakeholders that are involved in that,” he began. “I don’t want to bias the conversation one way or another … I think when you’re talking about a commitment and asking the university to sign something with specifics, then you have to be that neutral person. And that’s what the entire committee did. We took both sides of this commitment.”

I tried again. “Are you eventually going to provide a personal recommendation?”

“No, we are not going to,” Sizemore said, folding his hands on his desk with finality. “I can’t speak for the administration.”

***

On Feb. 5, the President’s Office released Crawford’s decision to sign onto the PCLC — parts of it, at least. 

“The President’s intent is to sign, on behalf of Miami University, the Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitments – and do so on April 22, 2020, the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day,” Ted Pickerill, executive assistant to the President and secretary to the Board of Trustees wrote in an email to The Miami Student. 

Crawford expressed his excitement to sign the commitment in an interview with The Student. 

“We’ve acted bold in the past, and I think we can do that in the future as well,” Crawford said. “We set it for Earth Day, which it is a nice symbol, but we also need that time to pull all these pieces and parts together.”

One of those parts that still needs to be sorted out is the fact that Crawford has not yet decided which parts of the PCLC he will sign onto. 

The commitment is broken into three parts: Climate, Carbon and Resilience. The Climate and Carbon commitments involve carbon neutrality, while the Resilience commitment does not. If Crawford were to sign the Climate or Carbon commitments, the university would have three years to conduct research and analysis and set up a task force to begin moving Miami toward carbon neutrality. If he were only to sign the Resilience commitment, Miami would not be committing to carbon neutrality. Rather, it would be a watered down version of the other two commitment levels.

Other members of the University Sustainability Committee said that despite the remaining decisions to be made, they’re confident in the President’s decision to sign the PCLC. 

“We wouldn’t be signing it if we didn’t think it was doable,” Helaine Alessio, co-chair of the University Sustainability committee, said. 

Deciding to sign the PCLC is just the beginning, and members of the University Sustainability committee see the possibilities the commitment makes possible.

“I see it as exciting research and analysis that we can do to see all the avenues that are available,” Susan Zazycki, co-chair of the University Sustainability committee, said. “We have so many people here on campus that are so aware of the issue and energetic … I hope that everyone is seeing it as many opportunities and evaluating which ones work best for us.” 

Crawford said a big part of the decision lies in how much the city of Oxford wants to pitch in to the efforts.

“We have to get their buy-in,” Crawford said. “But I always wanted to commit; it was just a matter of how we’d do it.”

***

In the end, it sounded like signing the PCLC is a way for Miami’s administration to get everyone on campus on the same page when it comes to our sustainability measures. 

“We can all be informed,” Zazycki said. “There are misinterpretations sometimes. Sometimes it’s the telephone game … We now have this opportunity with the PCLC, with forming a task force, to get the word out.” 

And, after all, this story was written as an effort to get everyone in on the conversation.

@samantha_brunn

brunnsj@miamioh.edu 

Editor's Note: This story originally said STARS merged with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the nonprofit known for its LEED certification system, in 2018. USGBC has faced accusations of greenwashing its ability to help corporations combat climate change and of not holding corporations to a high enough standard to face the current climate crisis. However, it is the STARS Cities program that was acquired, not the one used by universities.

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