Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Princeton Review Green Schools Honor Roll

Clearly there is increasing interest in attending colleges that practice, teach and support environmental responsibility. As reported in The Princeton Review two-thirds of university applicants say that they are interested in a school's environmental report card, this is a 4 percent increase over last year’s results. One quarter of respondents indicated that such information would “very much” impact on their decision to apply to or attend the school.

The Princeton Review's second annual Green Ratings of colleges measured environmental friendliness on a scale of 60 to 99. Here are the schools named to the “2010 Green Rating Honor Roll” all of whom received the highest possible score (99). Here is The Green Economy Post's review of Princeton's top 15 schools as measured by their policies, practices, and academic offerings.

Arizona State University at the Tempe campus - Established the School of Sustainability in 2007, the first of its kind in the US. The Tempe campus has the largest collection of energy-providing solar panels on a single U.S. university campus. The School also provides a number of commuter programs.

Bates College (Lewiston ME) - The new dining commons was built to LEED Silver equivalence. It is self-ventilated and uses 100 percent Maine renewable electricity. Most food waste is either recycled, composted, or sent to a food bank or pig farmer. Thirty percent of the college’s total food budget is spent locally. The school also offers a bicycle co-op, a van pool program, and a Zipcar program.

Binghamton University (State Univ. of New York at Binghamton) - They recycle or compost more than 90 percent of their current service ware. Approximately 2,500 pounds of compostable waste is collected around campus every year. The Binghamton campus encompasses almost 900 acres of land, a large proportion of which is officially designated as the Nature Preserve.

College of the Atlantic (Bar Harbor ME) - The school has been carbon neutral since 2007. All electricity comes from renewable hydropower; and some buildings are heated via renewable wood pellets. The school's primary major is human ecology and they now offer an undergraduate green and socially responsible business program. The school’s partially wind powered farm (Beech Hill Farm) offers organic produce to campus, local schools and food banks. All new buildings feature composting bins in the kitchens and composting toilets.

Colorado College (Colorado Springs CO) - The college has cut greenhouse gas emissions by 378 metric tons of carbon dioxide and saved almost $100,000 in utility costs. The college dining service purchases food from the school’s organic garden and food waste from the dining service is used as compost. The school’s 25-kilowatt solar PV array is the largest in the Colorado Springs Utilities service area.

Dickinson College (Carlisle PA) - Established the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education in 2008 to integrate the environment and sustainability across the college curriculum. Students collected used fryer oil to produce 1500 gallons of biodiesel annually for the college’s equipment. Extensive composting includes compostable tableware.

Evergreen State College (Olympia WA) - It is set on one thousand acres and provides a broad range of environmentally oriented courses. The Curriculum for the Bioregion incorporates environmental and sustainability issues into general education college courses throughout the region. The Center for Sustainable Entrepreneurship was recently launched by students to provide a vehicle for them to put their business skills to use in socially responsible ventures. Many vehicles are electric and the college’s electricity comes from renewable sources.

Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta) - Sustainability is a key component of the Campus' Master Plan. All vendors provide green products and the school’s cleaning equipment uses 70 percent less water and 90 percent less chemicals than traditional equipment. The football game day recycling program collected nearly 12 tons of aluminum cans and glass and plastic bottles from home game attendees.

Harvard College (Cambridge MA) - Proceeding towards the goal of reducing emissions by 30% below a 2006 baseline by 2016. Many building are working towards achieving LEED certification. The school has a 55% recycling rate, a drive-alone rate of only 16.5, as well as renewable energy projects on campus and composting.

Middlebury College (Middlebury VT) - The nation’s oldest undergraduate environmental studies program. The school is on track to become carbon neutral by 2016. It operates a biomass gasification plant for heating, cooling and electricity and reduces the college’s net carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent.

Northeastern University (Boston MA) - The largest residence hall in the United States to meet LEED Gold certification. Northeastern University began integrating energy conservation into its facilities management plans in the 1980s and recently replaced 70,000 traditional lamps with fluorescent lamps that will reduce carbon emissions by 686 tons annually. “Project Clean Plate”, is the school’s food composting initiative.

University of California - Berkeley - Has over 2000 energy efficiency initiatives designed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2014. Student projects have reduced energy consumption by over 8.5 million kWh and water usage by 3 million gallons. The university’s primary food service operator was the first in the country to receive organic certification. Berkeley has more than 80 academic degrees, 90 research centers, and 25 student-run organizations with an environmental focus.

University of New Hampshire (Durham) - 85 percent of its electricity and heat are from purified landfill gas from a nearby Waste Management landfill. Earlier this year, the school became the first university in the nation to receive the majority of its campus energy needs from landfill gas. The University also has the largest public transit system in New Hampshire, with most of its vehicles running on biodiesel and compressed natural gas. The school has a growing focus on sustainable agriculture.

University of Washington (Seattle) - All new campus buildings will meet at least the LEED Silver standard. The school purchases only renewable power. They emphasize local organic foods and they are working toward a zero-waste goal. They also have one of the most extensive composting programs in the country.

Yale University (New Haven CT) - The school has implemented solar and wind projects to provide renewable energy. It also has its own co-generation power plant and is building another. Kroon Hall, the new home of its school of Forestry & Environmental Studies is a model of energy-saving design and is expected to earn a LEED Platinum certification. The Yale Sustainable Food Project directs a sustainable dining program, manages an organic farm and runs diverse educational programs.

Read more about the green rating methodology of The Princeton Review web site.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Top 10 US College Environmental Programs

There are an increasing number of Green college degrees in an ever widening array of disciplines. As reported in a recent TreeHugger article here are the 10 Best Environmental Programs in the US.

1. Northland College, Ashland, WIsconsin
Northland College, Ashland, Wisconsin At Northland College, environmental studies isn't just a major--it's a part of the school's education requirements across all curricula. The Environmental Sciences Department offers majors in environmental chemistry and environmental geosciences; the Natural Resources department includes emphases on ecological restoration, fisheries ecology, and wildlife ecology; and the Nature and Culture Department allows majors in outdoor education and humanity and nature studies. The Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute brings environmental responsibility to the surrounding community, and since 1971 the school has stressed sustainability across the board: Classes like sustainable business, sustainable agriculture, and renewable energy prepare students for a green future, while an off-grid building insulated with straw bales and an eco-friendly residence hall that was a prototype for the LEED rating system help them understand sustainability now.

2. SUNY-ESF Syracuse, New York
The State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry handles more than 25,000 acres of land in Central New York and the Adirondack Park, where nearly 2,500 students in the graduate and undergraduate program choose majors as specific as aquatic and fisheries science, construction management, forest ecosystem science, paper engineering, and bioprocess engineering. Research takes priority, too, with faculty working on more than 450 projects--including wildlife disease prevention, nanotechnology, and genetic engineering--around the world.

3. Program in Environmental Studies, Middlebury College
The undergraduate degree in environmental studies at Middlebury College was the country's first, established in 1965. Now, more than 40 years later, the program is still one of the forerunners of the green movement: Students have won awards including the Udall Scholarship in Environmental Policy and the Fulbright Grant; author Bill McKibben worked with six students to create the Step It Up movement in 2007; and students can choose specialties including conservation biology, environmental policy, religion, philosophy, and the environment. Elsewhere on campus, students have the opportunity to work in the school's organic garden, join the Middlebury Mountain Club , and take part in events organized by the Environmental Quality organization.

4. Department of Natural Resources, Cornell University
Once the country's oldest forestry college, today the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in majors that include applied ecology, resource policy and management, and a Ph.D. in Natural Studies. Off-campus, extension programs in fish and wildlife biology and management; ecology and management of landscapes; and environmental inquiry and youth education allow students and faculty to take their education to the local community.

5. Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, Duke University
Students at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences choose from undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral degrees in concentrations that include environmental studies and policy, earth and ocean sciences, and environmental law. The University also maintains a hands-on Marine Laboratory in Beaufort, NC, where courses on biology, science and nature writing, and marine policy take place in the Gold LEED-certified conservation center. Doctoral candidates have three research areas to pick from: marine science and conservation, which includes marine ecology and coastal geology; earth and ocean sciences, comprising climate change and solid earth processes; and environmental studies and policy, which focuses on ecosystem science and aquatic and atmospheric sciences.

6. College of the Atlantic
While the other colleges on this list offer a wide variety of environmentally-related degrees, College of the Atlantic takes the opposite approach: Students share one major--human ecology--and then tailor the course load to his or her own specific interests. Social and environmental issues take center stage though, as all the students are expected to address them through their self-designed curriculum and senior project; examples of past projects include a photographic exhibit based on the birds of Hawaii; one student's wilderness immersion trip along a Virginia creek; and a multimedia fundraiser for a Zimbabwean nonprofit.

7. School of Sustainability, Arizona State University
Since 2004, the Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University has focused on "rapid urbanization"--studying the growth of cities and the related effects on the surrounding ecosystem--asking questions about water distribution, construction materials, alternative energy, and air pollution. And since 2007, the Institute's Sustainability School has allowed students to join the mission to "develop solutions to some of the most pressing environmental, economic, and social challenges of sustainability, especially as they relate to urban areas." The school currently offers undergraduate and graduate degrees, and plans to add professional development programs in the future.

8. School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University
The Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies offers masters degrees in environmental management, forestry, forest science, and environmental management--plus mid-career one- and five-year masters programs, and joint degrees with programs that include architecture, law, international relations, and divinity. Doctoral students focus their efforts on research; current options include biodiversity conservation, hydrology, pollution management, tropical ecology, and water resource management--plus many others. The school's new building, Kroon Hall, claims to be even more sustainable than LEED Platinum levels require, with a geothermal heating system, natural lighting, solar hot water heaters, and a rainwater harvesting system.

9. Green Mountain College
All students at Green Mountain College base their education around the Environmental Liberal Arts program, which includes classes on our understanding of nature, the ethics of environmental policies, and an intensive writing seminar. Beyond that, majors in traditional careers--like business, communications, and psychology--are available alongside more uncommon specialties, like adventure education and youth development and camp management. The campus's Farm & Food Project lets students participate in the growing process, from gardening organically to driving oxen, putting them in touch with what the farm manager calls, "the food revolution that is transforming farming."

10. Sustainable Food and Bioenergy Systems B.S., Montana State University
Though it's new this year, the bachelor of science degree in sustainable food and bioenergy systems from Montana State University offers three specific concentrations--agroecology, sustainable crop production, and sustainable food systems--in three different departments at the university, and includes courses in both the College of Agriculture and the College of Education, Health, and Human Development. Students work at a 2.5-acre vegetable farm that's part of the school's agricultural research program and participate in internships on the area's small farms. As for post-grad, the college expects students to land jobs in sectors like food safety, bioenergy production and improvement, and agricultural biosecurity.


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