Facilities and Services Division, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia Keywords Australasia, environmental management strategy, Universities Abstract Discusses the extent to which environmental management is considered a mainstream business activity within Australian and New Zealand universities. Describes how a survey instrument was used to collect data on environmental programs, their resourcing and control processes, and the level of community involvement in their development and ongoing management. These indicators of mainstreaming are discussed and particular reference is made to the Australian National University (ANU) and its experience with mainstreaming environmental management. The survey data indicate that in the majority of the surveyed institutions, environmental management cannot be considered a mainstream business activity. To aid universities in assessing their progress towards mainstreaming, a conceptual framework is presented and a model of organisational change is discussed.
Introduction In response to the calls for ecologically sustainable development (WCED, 1987) and for leadership in environmental protection (Leal Filho et al., 1996), many universities throughout the world are recognising the need to adopt environmental management systems and to integrate these systems into their business operations. However, in the USA and Europe, at least, few universities are vigorously pursuing green initiatives (Dahle and Neumayer, 2001).
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One reason for this may be that environmental management remains a peripheral management issue. This article suggests that if environmental programs are to succeed, they must be mainstreamed into university operations, rather than sidelined as a soft management issue.
This article provides an analysis of environmental management in ten universities surveyed throughout Australia and New Zealand. While much information about environmental management in both US (e.g. HammondCreighton, 1998; Herremans and Allright, 2000), and European (e.g. Delakowitz and Hoffman, 2000; Noeke, 2000; Dahle and Neumayer, 2001) tertiary institutions has been forthcoming, aside from Howard et al.’s (2000) case study of the Charles Sturt University, little information about environmental management at Australian and New Zealand universities is available.
Hopefully this contribution will stimulate discussion and interest and encourage further empirical studies on environmental management in Australasian universities. The aim of this investigation is to identify the extent to which environmental management systems are underpinned by business management practice and thus mainstreamed into university management processes. Herremans and Allright (2000) have suggested that the level of financial investment, and the level of senior executive involvement indicate how mainstreamed environmental management programs are within tertiary institutions. While agreeing, we feel that there are other indicators of mainstreaming that demonstrate organisational commitment. These include community involvement, the development of environmental plans and the presence of control processes. This article examines features of each of the environmental programs surveyed, with particular emphasis on the following: The presence of an environmental management plan and the level of financial and human resources available. .
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The control processes that exist (e.g. environmental management systems, audits, reports to management).
. The level of campus community involvement in the program. After discussing the surveys, a brief case study of the Australian National University (ANU) will be presented. This is included because of the authors’ familiarity with the issues and not because it necessarily offers an example of best practice. Indeed, if the analysis shows anything, it is that while much has been done to improve environmental performance at the surveyed universities, there is still much more to do. Methodology and survey results The authors developed a simple survey instrument to gather information about the environmental management systems of Australasian universities.
An invitation to complete the survey was issued to all universities in Australia and New Zealand via the Australian Universities Environmental Managers Network (AUEMN) and the mailing list of the Australasian Higher Education Facilities Managers Association (AAPPA).
Of the 46 possible universities (38 Australian; eight New Zealand), ten complete surveys were received ± a response rate of 21.7 per cent. The response rate for New Zealand universities (37.5 per cent) was much higher than that of Australian universities (18.4 per cent).
The participating universities were: . The University of Western Australia. . The University of Newcastle. . The University of New South Wales. . University of Wollongong. . Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.
The results of the surveys are shown in Tables I, II and III. Table I shows base information about the environmental policy of the participating universities, including whether or not an environmental plan exists and the level of financial support. Table II contains information about community involvement. Table III contains details of control processes such as reporting and auditing. Not surprisingly, as indicated by Table I, the survey showed that all participating universities had an environmental policy approved at the executive level. All policies where established between 1994 and 1998. Either working groups or formal committees developed the majority of policies; only two policies were established by employees without feedback from a working group or committee. All the policies established by the participating universities make energy conservation, waste management and “sustainability’’ key aims of the environmental program.
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Seven policies also make broad references to the teaching and research activities of the universities and the importance of consistency between the principles espoused in teaching and the actions of the corporate university. Only one policy makes a specific reference to “greening the curriculum’’. Seven respondents indicated that an environmental management plan was developed following the approval of a policy and that these plans are used to operationalise the principles detailed in the policy documents. Of the universities who did not have a formal plan, one stated that a plan was currently being developed, another that they “work from the policy’’, and yet another that the “university has an appropriate vision and objective which is driven by a well represented working party’’.
One university without a plan also indicated that it was “becoming increasingly recognised that one would be useful . . . [to bring] various programs together and give them momentum’’. The survey asked respondents to comment on what, if any, management structure and budget had been established to facilitate the implementation of the environmental management program. Six universities stated that they had a formally established environmental management committee overseeing the implementation of the policy; four respondents indicated that there was no committee structure, with one of these respondents noting that the pre-existing management committee had “ceased meeting in 1998 and has not reconvened’’. The surveys indicated that the facilities management department played a strong role in the implementation of environmental management objectives, in all but one of the participating universities.