Three Decades of Higher Education Excellence Through Collaboration
In 2009, SMHEC’s President’s Council declared sustainability a major priority and developed a task force to explore and support collaborative activities. The Task Force’s mission is to strengthen our members’ capacity to leverage resources and information particular to sustainability and the application of renewable practices. Since its inception, the SMHEC Sustainability Task Force has shared best practices and engaged experts to learn about the most current information on sustainability and the application of renewable practices. All members are signatories to the Illinois Campus Sustainability Compact.
From the start, the Task Force set out to develop a “community of sustainability peers.” First, each institution documented their sustainability activities and shared their accomplishments and challenges. Then, they conducted a series of informational workshop on topics they wanted to learn more about.
Those topics included:
- update on the state’s sustainability efforts.
- Integration of academic programs into the sustainability philosophy.
- Portfolio Manager – Energy Star.
- Carbon footprints.
- Clinton Climate Initiative.
- Waste and recycling with emphasis on organic opportunities.
- How to LEED certify existing buildings.
- Setting up a sustainability program within your existing budget.
The Task Force established a SMHEC Sustainability Conference , held annually in October, to facilitate each institution's evaluation of past year’s sustainability efforts, planning for the new year, sharing of best practices, and continued development of the community of peers. At the first conference in 2010, the SMHEC Presidents jointly signed the Illinois Campus Sustainability Compact. The conferences bring together the Presidents, representatives of the Board of Trustees/Governors and administrative teams, facilities managers, IT directors, faculty, students and staff – all who are dedicated to improving sustainability efforts personally and on their campus.
Following the 2011 SMHEC Sustainability Conference, students requested an event exclusively for students. In Fall 2012, students from many of the member institutions planned and conducted their own Student Sustainability Summit . The event was attended by over 75 students and was deemed a great success. Buoyed by this experience, the students planned and conducted another Student Sustainability Summit in the spring of 2013. Over 100 students attended this session, again to rave reviews. The students plan to make this an annual spring event.
Both the SMHEC Sustainability Conference and the Student Summits are made possible through the sponsorship of generous businesses that have sustainability at the core of their enterprise. Without their support, SMHEC would not be able to promote and encourage the sustainable activity on its member campuses. The following organizations have been generous sponsors of our past sustainability events.