Peter Varney is the Director of Transportation & Automotive Services at Facilities & Services on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus. He came to the University in 1990 as a student employee washing and fueling vehicles for the Motor Pool. One thing led to another until he found himself in his current position. His primary responsibility is managing the vehicle rental fleet, garage, and transportation units as well as managing all of the silver F&S service vehicles on campus. He jokingly says he “feels like the University’s official cat herder” because the campus has a highly decentralized vehicle fleet that he is attempting to manage from one centralized office. That’s on challenge for sustainability he hopes to overcome.
Peter believes that society has become “very wasteful and ‘disposable.’ ” In response, he and his family try to practice simple sustainable activities at home like turning off lights, recycling, and owning a small and fuel-efficient car.
He finds his Transportation SWATeam work important because he feels he brings a unique, practical understanding to the table. He admits that the task will be tricky.
“I don’t believe there are many home runs that are available, or they would have been done by now,” he says. “I think the biggest change will come from numerous, but individually small, changes that most people can make.
“The campus has a stated goal of improving sustainability, and the direction is coming from the highest levels. The buy-in must come from the bottom and must apply to everyone equally. As a society we must learn to look beyond our noses. The decisions we make today have consequences over the long term.”