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A new role for ASABE? The green and green engineering society?

Once upon a time, phrases such as green plants, green paint, village green, green with envy, green lumber, and green quarterback represented the typical meanings and uses of the word green. However, terms such as green buildings, living green, green energy, certified green, and green action represent a new definition and use that has literally exploded on the scene. In this context, the word green has become an icon, representing and encompassing such terms and concepts as sustainability, environmentalism, ecology, energy and resource efficiency, conservation, recycling, antipollution, renewable, and healthy. And green is a hot topic as witnessed by the plethora of articles in newspapers and popular magazines, books, Web sites, government and association publications, and conferences focused on this concept.

It is important to realize that green has caught the attention and gained the support of the general public in a dramatic way, whereas many of the concepts embedded in its meaning have not. As one example, one of my areas of technical interest is energy-efficient houses. Historically, this has not been a major area of interest to most homeowners. However, presenting energy efficiency as an important aspect of a green house places it in a new perspective that captures the attention of many homeowners.

Given the obvious benefits and merits of green to humans and the planet and its increasing prominence in how people make choices in their lives, what is the role of ASABE and its members? Certainly, it can be argued that ASABE, the professional organization that represents agricultural and biological engineering, has always been the most green engineering society in the traditional biological meaning of the word. And certainly, many members currently engage in green engineering activities. The question is: should ASABE become and become known as the most green engineering society? Given 1) the intrinsic values of green to society in general, 2) the unique focus of the agricultural and biological engineering profession, and 3) the opportunity to use the PR value of green to help the public better understand, appreciate, and use the expertise and work of agricultural and biological engineers, my answer to this question is a resounding yes. In order to do so, I recommend the following strategies.

* ASABE should become a green organization at the operational level. A green team should be established to provide advice and counsel in this regard. Examples of some green activities that should be investigated (if not already in place) include recycling and energy-efficient equipment and practices at headquarters, reduction of printed materials, use of recycled paper and bio-based inks, considering fuel efficiency in staff and officer travel plans, and choosing meeting and conference venues that have reduce-reuse-and-recycle programs (such as hotels that make daily replacement of linens and towels in guest rooms optional and have recycling containers for paper, beverage containers, and conference badges).

* ASABE should actively promote and encourage green choices on the part of members as they make personal life decisions regarding food, housing, transportation, vacations, and related areas. A regular green living column in Resource magazine could provide information and suggestions and keep green in the limelight.

* ASABE should publicize the green design, research, and other work-related activities of its members in ways that highlight that they are in fact green. Examples include biomass products and energy sources, food quality and safety, precision agriculture, sustainable technologies, efficient engines and tractors, soil and water quality and conservation, and environmental quality and management in animal housing and greenhouses. In addition to press releases and articles in publications, ASABE could also use the green identifier for selected presentations and workshops at conferences. Entire technical sessions at meetings could also be based on green as a topic area.

* ASABE should contribute and help its members contribute to the growing body of knowledge about green that is available to businesses and the public. Some green decisions are easy to make such as turning off the lights in unoccupied rooms and placing empty beverage containers in recycling bins, whereas others such as building material choices are much more complicated and may require detailed embedded energy and life cycle analysis. ASABE and its members can use their expertise in agricultural and biological engineering topics relevant to green to provide factual information so that individuals and industry can make more informed decisions.

Kermit the frog acknowledges it isn't easy being green. It isn't easy being green either, but it is the right way to live and work. Hopefully, ASABE will help lead the way.

ASABE member Allen Zimmerman is a professor at The Ohio State University, Wooster Campus, 1328 Dover Road, Wooster, OH 44691, 330-264-3911 ext. 1263, fax 330-262-7634,

Views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the official position of ASABE.
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Title Annotation:Last Word
Author:Zimmerman, Allen
Publication:Resource: Engineering & Technology for a Sustainable World
Date:Mar 1, 2006
Previous Article:Welcome new members.
Next Article:On being green and green.

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