Social Responsibility: It's Everybody's Business
University of Phoenix takes its commitment to the environment seriously. The University supports sustainability initiatives, purchases millions of renewable energy certificates every year and recognizes employees for their environmental contributions.
University of Phoenix faculty members like Bruce Andersen, who teaches finance and accounting, are also doing their part in less formal ways to help the University minimize its carbon footprint. Andersen sees opportunities for the University as well as other organizations to practically apply financial principles to real-world scenarios.
“In finance, it’s not just analyzing the numbers for quantitative meaning but also for social and responsible meaning,” he says. “Does budgeting include environmental waste? Is there a goal for achieving standard of air quality in the workplace, lower standard of power consumption per employee? Those are the components of budgeting and forecasting that University of Phoenix alumni can take to their places of work.”
Andersen leads by example. He’s built a paperless tax business—filing and storing all tax documents electronically. He walks to work three to four times out of the week, often carpools or uses public transportation and uses coffee grinds from the employee workroom to fertilize the office garden.
And through a client relationship in his professional line of work as a Certified Public Accountant, Andersen is learning more about the benefits of developing renewable energy. His client, a renewable energy developer, among its many products and technologies, is involved in animal manure waste management.
The company has devised an anaerobic digestion system that allows dairies to convert cow waste, in both solid and liquid form, into bio-methane gas. The system, which generates renewable energy credits, is modular—allowing for the system to grow with the dairy. “And it’s completely above ground, which eliminates any chance of ground water contamination,” Andersen says.
If all dairies in California were retrofitted with anaerobic digestion systems, it would significantly improve air pollution levels in California’s Central Valley and save the state $3 billion in health-related costs, according to projections by The Environmental Justice Advisory Committee.
Andersen says it’s his duty to try to set a higher environmental standard in everything he does because sustainability is an issue that needs everyone’s buy-in.
“I think back to my childhood in the ‘50s when people smoked and threw cigarette butts out the window, and when McDonald’s and other drive-ins were just coming into vogue,” he says. At that time, he recalls, it was common to see roadways littered with fast food wrappers—people just threw them out the window when they were done eating.
“It took a generation and the government to pass laws to prevent that action. Today, kids and adults think [littering] is criminal,” Andersen says. “The same transformation is taking place in the environmental and sustainability area.”References:
Environmental Protection Agency, Green Power List. Last viewed October 8, 2009.