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Sustainability Success Story

AU Facilities wins APPA’s sustainability award

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William Suter and Emily Curley hold the award plaque from APPA presented to AU

Emily Curley (far right) and William Suter (second from right) accepted APPA's award to AU at the Denver annual convention

Recently, American University’s Facilities Management department received APPA’s inaugural sustainability award for the integration of green ideas and practices throughout the university. Willy Suter, director of Facilities Management and sustainability coordinator Emily Curley were on hand to accept the award at APPA’s annual conference in Denver, CO. AU’s Facilities Management also will be featured in Facilities Manager magazine, the industry publication for facilities managers of schools, colleges, and universities.

While AU has won recognition for past sustainability initiatives such reducing energy consumption in residence halls and landscaping with native perennial plants, this new award by a national organization dedicated to educational facilities management extends beyond individual projects to recognize the integration of green ideas and practices throughout all aspects of the university.

“Facilities Management has been working to become more sustainable for the past 15 years,” said Suter, “along the way we have participated with other university units in achieving real gains. Being a recipient of APPA's first-ever sustainability award is an honor of note for the campus-wide effort.”

American University’s ten transformational goals include “Act on Our Values through Social Responsibility and Service,” which states explicitly that “Life at the university will be marked by…an active pursuit of sustainability.” AU has pursued that goal aggressively across all aspects of university life, including areas not associated traditionally with green initiatives. For example, the Center for Teaching, Research and Learning offers a green teaching certificate, a voluntary program that encourages AU faculty to reduce the environmental impact of their teaching with simple changes such as making course syllabi available online to reduce paper use.

Each of AU’s schools offer courses about sustainability issues. In fact, according to a 2010 survey, AU had 213 courses focusing on sustainability and another 572 courses related to sustainability, adding up to almost a fifth of the more than 4,500 courses taught that year. Outside of class, students can join Eco-sense, the student sustainability group; become Green Eagle eco-ambassadors; or apply for an AU Sustainability Fund grant to help make their grassroots sustainability projects a reality.

The APPA awards committee looked for applications that “demonstrate the ability to look at the organization as a whole,” and AU’s comprehensive view of sustainability impressed the committee. “American University has committed the entire institution to sustainability,” said Leon MacLellan, a member of the awards committee. “There is great leadership – from the curriculum offerings, to energy planning, to the Eco-sense student club.”

Suter said, “This newest award is specific recognition that AU's Facilities’ efforts are successfully integrated with the broader university context, that we are leaders within the university, and that we are among very few international leaders in educational facilities management.”