I was at a seminar recently where Dr. Mark Ratner talked about Northwestern University’s efforts to embrace sustainability throughout its operations. One of the most interesting points he made was less about the “what” and more about the “why”. Northwestern has discovered that students are extremely interested in the University’s green activities and their sustainability program is designed, in part, to help attract students to the school.
In a USA Today article that I recently read, Trevor Hughes points out that the trend is stretching to other educational institutions throughout the country. “From tours of energy-efficient buildings to discussions about recycling rates and solar panels, universities and colleges across the country are increasingly putting on the green to attract students who are serious about environmental issues,” Hughes writes.
In fact, Hughes goes on to point out that the Sustainable Endowments Institute’s survey of sustainability activities showed that 69% of colleges are now including sustainability messages in their recruiting materials versus 27% in 2009.
It’s even more interesting to consider how this all affects the workplace, as these students graduate and look for employment. It’s a good bet that this growing population of students are seeking for similar attributes in the companies that they join and the buildings in which they work.