Apollo Group jumps ahead in Newsweek’s Sustainability Rankings
It’s not easy being green, but Apollo Group (parent company of University of Phoenix) is now among the top 100 greenest of the largest United States companies, according to Newsweek magazine. Newsweek compiled Green Rankings of the 500 largest U.S. companies this year and placed Apollo at number 83, a full 100 places ahead of where it ranked two years ago.
“Dedication and hard work across Apollo and University of Phoenix in advancing green business practices are moving us forward,” says Seth Mones, Apollo vice president, sustainability policy and programs. These green approaches include energy efficient building and IT-operations practices, procurement initiatives, environmental policy development and making publicly available comprehensive information on Apollo’s green business practices.
A former cabinet member for previous Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano and counsel to the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Mones has helped lead a coordinated sustainability effort across Apollo. From 2009 to 2010, Apollo’s environmental footprint in the United States decreased, with greenhouse gas emissions down 9 percent and electricity usage down 10 percent. In 2011, Apollo completed various energy efficiency projects in Phoenix, which are expected to reduce Apollo’s footprint by 750 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions and 1.3 million kilowatt hours of energy usage. To put that number in perspective, that’s enough energy to power about 100 homes for a year.
Mones sees Apollo’s sustainability role as holistic and very much part of its function as a provider of higher education. “We emphasize the ability side of sustainability,” he explains. “And we do this in three ways — we teach it, grow it and implement it. We teach sustainability through three sustainability related degree programs. We grow sustainability through support of environmental education focused nonprofits. And we implement sustainability through green business practices.”
The three sustainability related degree programs offered by University of Phoenix include a bachelor's degree in Business with a concentration in Sustainable Enterprise Management and an MBA with a concentration in Energy Management as well as a bachelor’s program in Environmental Science.
“Our environmental science program is actually one of the fastest growing programs in University of Phoenix,” says Hinrich Eylers, PhD, dean of the College of Natural Sciences, who has also worked as a sustainability management consultant for private companies. “We are continually working to bring about more cutting-edge courses in this important area of higher learning.”
In addition to the way University of Phoenix focuses on issues of sustainability, the nature of the University itself as a primarily online institution is also, fundamentally, an eco-friendly concept.
“Our innovative, online learning,” says Mones, “which utilizes e-textbooks and an extensive online library, is itself a powerful environmentally sensitive approach that reduces environmental impacts in providing education."