Monday, August 19, 2013

Sustainability in Colleges and Universities Across America

The growth of sustainable schools continues across America. This trend encompasses schools from Kindergarten to University. Students are increasingly interested in sustainability as indicated by the Princeton Review's Green Guide which showed that 68 percent of likely college applicants say a college or universities’ commitment to sustainability would affect their decision to attend.

As reviewed in an ED article published in early 2013, there have been exemplary efforts of K-12 schools to reduce environmental impact and costs; improve health and wellness; and teach effective environmental and sustainability education.

There are also a vast array of colleges and universities that are providing healthy, safe, cost-efficient facilities, practices and learning in the US. As explained in the ED article, "colleges and universities, and their students, have been the vanguards of the sustainability movement."

Here is a summary of som of the great sustainability achievements in American post-secondary institutions:

1. Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability offers trans-disciplinary sustainability degree programs in business, design, technology, engineering, law, humanities, social sciences, and public affairs, among other subjects.

2. University of California, Santa Barbara, students voted in 2006 to self-levy a tax of $2.60 per quarter, contributing approximately $182,000 a year toward The Green Initiative Fund.

3. Portland State University in Oregon, has the Institute for Sustainable Solutions which hosts an annual International EcoDistrict Summit. The Institute’s 2013 Solutions Generator offers awards for up to 16 groups of students to design innovative solutions to pressing sustainability issues.

4. College of Lake County, in Grayslake, Illinois, works to facilitate important sustainability conversations for the community through the annual County Green conference. In addition, the college offers faculty professional development courses in integrating sustainability into classes.

5. Unity College in Maine has students a super-efficient, certified “passive house” student residence which is among the most sustainable in the country. It is built a campus root cellar and animal barn. Its Environmental Citizen Curriculum engages students of every major with sustainability science and environmental challenges.

6. Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, has the Shi Center, a demonstration site for different sustainable technologies, has attracted over a dozen national and regional sponsors. With a $2.5 million Department of Energy grant, the school will replace all of its 11 aging heat pumps with ground source geothermal varieties by 2014.

7. De Anza College in Cupertino, California, have opportunities for students to join one of many environmental committees and enroll in sustainability-focused classes. The college offers reduced rates on public transport and bike rentals.

8. Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, boasts the largest geothermal heating and cooling system of its kind in the nation. When completed, the system will allow the university to save $2 million per year in operating costs and cut its carbon footprint roughly in half.

9. Sterling College in Craftsbury Common, Vermont, is a place where 20 percent of food is raised and harvested by students in campus gardens, fields, farm, forests, and orchards. What products can’t be grown on campus comes from local, sustainable, organic farms. The Sterling Farm and Gardens serve as laboratories for best practices in sustainable agriculture.

As noted in the article there are many other examples of sustainability in institutes of higher education in the US.

View more resources and webinars for all schools here. Connect with the ED-Green Ribbon Schools network on Facebook. Sign up for the ED-GRS newsletter.

© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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