April 25, 2008 — Robert F. Bruner, dean of the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business, shared with students, faculty and staff an ambitious vision for environmental sustainability during an April 24 event that wrapped up the school's NET Impact Week, dedicated to highlighting and discussing environmental issues.
Through conservation, renewable energy production and, potentially, purchase of renewable energy credits and carbon credits, the Darden School is committing to reducing its net energy use to zero within the next 12 years, Bruner announced.
"We will be a zero-waste, carbon-neutral institution by 2020," he declared.
On the academic front, "We will be a top-10 business school for teaching and research that integrate an environmental sustainability mindset by 2013," said Bruner, adding that professors like Andrea Larson, Dick Brownlee, Bob Landel, Ed Freeman and the ethics faculty, and many others have long taught sustainability in both the executive education and full-time MBA programs.
Darden has already attracted recognition for its efforts to date in incorporating social and environmental issues into the curriculum, garnering the No. 5 spot for research and No. 24 overall (out of 112 schools surveyed) in the 2007-08 "Beyond Grey Pinstripes" survey. While some business programs are beginning to add special sustainability topics as electives, Darden aspires to take a more comprehensive approach, integrating sustainability "as part of its DNA" into its general management curriculum.
Darden and its environmental sustainability steering team will interact closely with the University of Virginia's Task Force on Sustainability — already very active on the sustainability front — where faculty member Dick Brownlee also serves. Bruner noted that Darden's connections with the worldwide business community and its understanding of the role that markets and consumers play give it an important role to play in Universitywide leadership efforts to attain high marks in sustainability, both academically and in practice.
Bruner concluded his remarks by reviewing the school's goals and the effort required to reach them. "These are very lofty goals," he said. "It will be difficult but we'll commit and push forward toward a great outcome. We shall be a leader." Bruner also affirmed Darden's desire to be "a beacon for other business schools" in the area of environmental sustainability.