The 2023 Healthy Green Schools & Colleges Summer Summit was a dynamic two days at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento, California filled with productive discussions, hands-on working sessions, and plenty of time to forge connections with peers. The Summit brought together HGSC program sponsors, partners, and school facility directors from across the country who are committed to improving the indoor air quality and sustainability of their K-12 districts and higher education institutions.
Attendees gathered key insights for implementing healthy, sustainable facility management programs during interactive workshops; received actionable guidance from peers, partners, and other experts on topics including uncovering barriers to institutional change and integrating health and sustainability into everyday operations; shared their institution’s achievements; and experienced an award-winning facilities program during a private, guided tour of Cosumnes River College.
The summit produced generative discussions and productive working sessions, uncovering the following themes:
- The Need for Workforce Development and Empowerment: Attendees shared a strong need for training, onboarding, and employee engagement throughout the discussion sessions. This includes leadership training for supervisors and managers, as well as multilingual training for frontline staff.
- Efficiency and Making the Most of Limited Resources: Attendees cited time and adequate staffing as some of their toughest changes, describing the challenge of needing to do more with less. Potential solutions surfaced during the summit included lean training, time studies, the need to promote the use of data-driven decisions, and exploring ways to cut down time through vendor support.
- Collaboration and Communication: Several discussions surfaced the need to facilitate open communication channels and foster collaboration across the institutions and up to leadership, and with external parties such as vendors and distributors. Attendees making progress in this area cited strategies including monthly sync meetings and effectively communicating impacts to leadership using both data-driven and storytelling-based communications.
- Adapting to Change: Behind all discussions at the summit were the ever-evolving circumstances requiring the need to adapt to new realities, including adjusting to telework in higher education, maintaining safety in returning to onsite work, dealing with ongoing supply chain issues, and coping with increasing budget constraints. Several attendees noted the difficulty of maintaining more efficient and effective practices established at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, citing a loss of key gains when teams slip back into their old ways.
Individual reflections followed the working sessions and the summit concluded with preparing for the next steps. Each participant went home with a clear, actionable roadmap to use as they continue advancing health and sustainability in their facilities operations and management programs.
Thank you to the entire Cosumnes River College facilities team for hosting the 2023 Healthy Green Schools & Colleges Summer Summit.