Measuring up?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

How do you measure sustainability? I mean it is a pretty abstract concept. Sustainable development is about creating a world where resource limitations are respected and the relationships between people are appreciated. So there we have it, take all that and wrap it up into a nice set of measurable indicators. Yep… super easy. Also, did I mention that it would be super great if this magic assessment tool was accessible to students.

So what if I told you that there is a Campus Sustainability Assessment Framework just floating around out there? I guess you could call it the Bible of campus sustainability. A total of 171 indicators broken down into two broad categories (ecosystems and society) with10 subgroups that cover every aspects of campus sustainability. Well you would call me crazy wouldn’t you?

But in all seriousness this assessment tool does exist and it is being used by institutions all around the country. The Campus Sustainability Assessment Framework or CSAF (pronounced c-saf) is an exciting tool that allows campus community members to see just how sustainable their campus is. This tool was created by Lindsey Cole, a masters student, for the Sierra Youth Coalition.

Many people don’t even know that this tool exists. For them sustainability remains an abstract concept that has great principles but no substance. And for those who do know about it, some would try to use it as a commercial tool for profit. One thing that has never really been agreed upon is how to compare against institutions, or even if we should.

Check out the SYC’s website to find out more about the CSAF and other institutions that have worked on it.

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