The following is a letter to Brian Boerner, director of Fort Worth’s Department of Environmental Management. Brian is a member of the President’s Sustainability Committee and at today’s meeting made an excellent presentation offering suggestions on how the committee should approach its work.
Thanks for your presentation today. I look forward to learning more about the FW sustainability task force. When you look at the draft version of the UTA Sustainability page, you’ll see that FW DEM is not yet listed among the Resources; and we’ll want to link to the task force there, too. What’s the best way for us to get a look at the task force’s work? Is there a web page? I’m particularly interested in learning how lifecycle analysis is shaping the body’s decision making.
I appreciate your challenge on ozone emissions. It’s not immediately clear to me how the PSC would go about considering its implications. Would a full-scale ozone-emissions inventory be a useful step? To what extent would you expect an O3-reduction plan to differ from a GHG [greenhouse gas]-reduction plan? Even if (virtually?) any O3 reduction would also accomplish C02 reduction, the converse clearly does not hold. So if I’m thinking about it correctly, you’re essentially proposing that the university, in its GHG-reduction efforts, place higher priority on GHG reductions that do double duty as 03 reductions than on GHG reductions that do not. Is that the shape of it?
I particularly thank you for your pointed comment on benchmarking, which, like your ozone challenge, directly addresses what the committee’s fundamental logic ought to be. You agree, I take it, that identifying benchmarks is important. And you’ve now put the benchmarks-should-be-seen-as-floor-not-ceiling standard on the table. I will join you in promoting it. Inevitably we’ll have to pick and choose where to focus our resources, realizing that we can’t lead in every area. But I hope that overall we’ll be dissatisfied with merely catching up with the leaders, and your standard – we could call it the Boerner Doctrine – is one that I can see us needing to drag out time and time again as a way of challenging ourselves not to be satisfied with mediocrity.
Your call for the university to try to impact markets is also a useful one. The best scale for this is probably coordination within the UT System on purchasing and design standards. It appears that one of our main challenges will be working with our counterparts at UT Austin and other schools to press for solid initiatives at the System level. But perhaps at the same time we should look for opportunities for UT Arlington to join forces with the cities of FW, Arlington, and Dallas and with schools like UNT, SMU, and TCU for group purchases of recycled paper, etc.
Thanks again for the provocative remarks.