School Business Affairs June 2019

26 JUNE 2019 | SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION Communicating About Sustainability Some sustainability topics are hot buttons; “tweaking” communications may be in order. By Richard Weeks, RSBA “ S o much more could be accomplished if people were willing to tweak more often,” a colleague recently shared. “They dig their heels in on issues and become inflexible to compromise for accomplishing mutually beneficial goals.” “Tweaking” is making adjust- ments or modifications—fine-tuning. Although it is a dusty old English word that we often throw around, school business officials should repurpose it as an important 21st- century leadership and communica- tions technique. Tweaking is about leading and managing with flexibility and refine- ment—and what better way for SBOs to practice their management- by-tweaking skills than by working with district or municipal environ- mental sustainability committees to “accomplish mutually beneficial goals”? Environmental sustainabil- ity committees (SusComs) address such controversial issues as global warming, greenhouse gas emissions, plastic in our ecosystems, and har- vesting of alternative wind and solar energy. Sustainability’s effect on communities and the schools within those communities has given rise to district environmental SusComs that explore efficient use of resources and environmental education initiatives. SBOs’ commitment to efficient use of resources—combined with their business and financial knowledge and skills—makes them important contributors to the work of munici- pal SusComs as well. Consider the following examples: Urban development projects. Real estate developers construct multipurpose housing and retail buildings near urban neighbor- hood schools where space is at a premium. Working with SusComs, SBOs may suggest modifications to municipal development projects with an eye to ensuring that the projects don’t affect students nega- tively. Should crosswalks and traf- fic lights be relocated for student safety during morning rush hour? Will the proposed building’s height cast hours-long shadows on the school’s newly installed solar pan- els and students’ organic vegetable gardens? The SBO’s input is impor- tant to ensuring mutually benefi- cial outcomes. Carbon footprint. In June 2017, Canada’s minister of environment and climate change, Catherine McK- enna, offered $1.4 billion to local governments and advocacy groups for projects that would cut their car- bon footprint, save energy, and cre- ate green jobs. In 2018, thousands of Canadians met with their local SusComs and government councils to draft proposals to take advantage of Canada’s Low Carbon Economy Challenge program. For example, Nova Scotia’s Hali- fax Regional Council discussed a variety of proposals, including the Dartmouth Sportsplex cogen- eration plant. The proposal would replace the aging heating, ventilat- ing, and air-conditioning system in the sportsplex compound adjacent HURCA!/STOCK.ADOBE.COM