As I hung up the phone with the Director of Sustainability of a small liberal arts university, I was struck by the number of times that I have heard the same challenge articulated. The challenge – we have no money to work with- is a common one since schools that are fiscally conservative often have a small to non-existent budget to put towards sustainability initiatives which leads their Directors to face what feels like a huge wall.
The seemingly insurmountable needs – resources, manpower, support – feel like they grow larger over time since the Director does what they can, in many cases continuing to identify more and more that needs to be done around the school. Overwhelming for certain.
I am going to propose a solution, or even better, show you that there is no insurmountable wall in front of you, there is simply a challenge that you have yet to overcome.
In the next few sections we are going to troubleshoot some ways to help move beyond those challenges.
First figure out whose existing budget the changes you desire falls under. While you will mainly spend your time researching and graphing out the options, this does not require you to have a budget, it works under an existing one…
Again, looking at existing structures will help with this. Why do you need an army if one is already exists and is paid for?
Do you know the cost and benefits to what you are proposing? I suggest that you merely need to understand the motivations and passions of your higher-ups in order to best present why the most sustainable option is the one to take. I’m not talking about manipulation, I’m talking about understanding the needs of the person(s) holding the purse strings.
Doing anything alone is more difficult that doing it with others. In fact synergy shows us that when we work together that 1 + 1 can actually equal 3! Remember this and you are already in better shape than when you began your quest.