After reading the recent editorial “Divestment is a delusion,” I’d like to address some inaccuracies within this opinion piece, starting with the statement: “Western’s Office of Sustainability has been nothing short of shameful in its handling of the 10X12 Initiative, a program that was supposed to reduce campus utility consumption by 10 percent by the end of 2012.” The view that the Office of Sustainability exhibited “shameful handling” stems from the displeasure of the Western Front staff, who were informed (multiple times) that our office was delaying release of the results of the program until we had the time to analyze those results completely. In the real world, projects – or analysis of projects – can be delayed for a variety of reasons.
But instead of working with us and writing about 10x12 once actual information was in hand, the editorial board decided to manufacture a conflict where none exists.
Just a little more patience would have revealed the results of the program: A 9 percent drop in electricity use, a 4 percent drop in natural gas consumption, and a 20 percent drop in water use. The goal of a 10 percent decrease was set out as challenging target to reach, but one that could energize the campus to take action (“1 percent by 2012” might not seem very exciting).
The operational and behavior elements of the 10x12 program, including campus-wide energy retrofits, 68 degree set points for buildings, Sustainable Office Certification, and the Department Conservation Coordinators, actually work. They work because students, staff and faculty believe that a better world is possible, and they are committed to working toward it. They work despite the naysayers that snub their noses at these efforts. Ironically, the Western Front editors call for people to turn out the lights, and recycle, which were components of the 10x12 Program; information that may have come to light if the authors had taken the time to research their topic thoroughly. We look forward to working with Western Front staff on a future article once our analysis is complete.
Seth Vidaña, campus sustainability manager