Facilities and the Educational Experience

“These green buildings have propelled us into the educational experience,” says Paul Matthews, vice president of facilities maintenance during yesterday’s green campus tour of Saint Xavier University and University of Illinois at Chicago.

Like many institutional leaders, Matthews could have opted to design and operate the campus’ two LEED gold rated buildings, O’Brien and Rubloff Hall, largely behind the scenes, with little connection to the students. Instead, Matthews made the student educational experience a core facet of the green building projects, providing training and experience that will give Saint Xavier graduates an edge in the emerging green jobs market. Graduate level interns are trained by Matthews to design educational displays, give tours of the building, help inventory campus greenhouse gas emissions and design the campus’ climate action plan.

It’s not mere busy work, says Matthews. The tasks completed by the students also help move the university towards meeting the targets and timetables of the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), a complex and difficult task that always needs more hands. 

Julian Keniry is reporting from the Climate Leadership summit, a three-day conference focused on implementing ACUPCC commitments, organized by Second Nature along with the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) and eco-America.