The earliest expression of the concept “think global, act local” has been attributed to Scots town planner and social activist Patrick Geddes, who first advocated environmental responsibility in the early 1900’s as an essential consideration in economic development. Geddes was prescient in that he believed in working with the environment versus working against it.
Today, of course, sustainability is at the forefront of governmental, academic and corporate considerations. In “The Case for Sustainability: Challenges and Opportunities,” the latest chapter in Sodexo’s President to President series, David L. Finegold, D.Phil., President of Chatham University, outlines the extraordinary path his University has taken in its sustainability journey.
And what a story it is. Chatham is one of the top-ranked universities in the world for sustainability (AASHE, 2018), carrying on the legacy of Rachel Carson, its most famous alumna, who was a scientist, author and environmental activist. Chatham University’s Falk School of Sustainability and Environment is the first school devoted to sustainability in a private U.S. university on its new, nearly 400-acre campus on the outskirts of Pittsburgh, purpose-built as a sustainable living-learning community.
Energy expenses are a high-impact component of Chatham University’s sustainability strategy. Like many institutions, it comprises one of their largest budget items after labor costs, so, as Dr. Finegold points out, finding ways to reduce energy demand and switch from fossil fuels to renewables is a prime example of “think global, act local,” offering exciting benefits for both the campus and the planet.
Chatham University is not alone: prioritizing energy management initiatives is a central component of higher education institutions’ evolving sustainability strategies, as well as their budgetary considerations. As detailed in Inside Outsourcing: Unveiling Key Drivers and Barriers to Outsourcing Facilities Management, a report created by Sodexo and ACHUO-I, energy priorities are remarkably similar throughout higher education and play a central role in campus facility maintenance planning. The benefits can be significant, including reduced maintenance and lower costs.
Partnership, alignment, synergy
Sodexo knows that we can only meaningfully improve Quality of Life and add value for our partners if we offer services that align with the market’s strategic imperatives. Energy management that maximizes efficiency is essential to every site that we serve, and we offer free, comprehensive energy audits. Sodexo Energy Audits measure performance and benchmark utilities while evaluating the availability and reliability of energy supply. Clients benefit from customized insights into their facilities’ energy use and costs, as well as operational, supply and digital options that can reduce costs and demand requirements. And, through our Energy Awareness and Education Program, we help our partners facilitate employees’ individual behavioral changes that drive their sustainability and EHS (Environment, Health & Safety) goals and ensure a healthy indoor space for a building’s occupants.
Sodexo has been recognized for our efforts; named the top-rated company in its sector on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) for the 14th consecutive year and as a Top 10 Company Most Praised by NGOs, reinforcing our leadership and commitment to corporate social responsibility worldwide.
While we are proud of our success to date, our global efforts continue to evolve. Touching the lives of 75 million consumers every day, Sodexo has the opportunity and obligation to conduct research that enables informed decisions and to create best-practice service solutions that improve Quality of Life for millions of people around the world.
Barry Telford is the CEO of Universities West for Sodexo North America and the President of Sodexo Canada. A strong advocate for the new performance frontier: Quality of Life, Mr. Telford believes that great performance is driven by strong, inclusive leadership based on family and community-centered values and a commitment to serve others. Mr. Telford serves on the Board of the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation, Toronto’s Second Harvest and the Canadian Council of Aboriginal Business (CCAB).