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Higher Education Sustainability Initiatives

by Mark Wendell

Colleges and Universities have continued to play an important role in promoting energy conservation and the utilization of renewable energy sources.  Students have put pressure on schools to not only teach them about environmental responsibilities but also to practice and support these responsibilities.  The implications of going green have meant changes in the way these institutions of higher learning transport students to campus, maintain their grounds, provide food services, construct and operate their buildings, dispose of waste, perform their research, and instruct students, among other things.  Below are some examples of how a handful of institutions have responded:

OHIO UNIVERSITY
A recent grant totaling $1.5 million will double the size of their campus in-vessel composting system, making it the largest at any college or university in the nation.

COLORADO COLLEGE
Colorado College built the nation’s first LEED certified science center in 2005.  This was just the first steps towards the college’s aggressive goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2020, a plan including 30 percent reduction in existing building energy usage, along with a 20 percent reduction target through behavior change and conservation, and a strategy to derive 100 percent of electricity from renewable sources.

COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY
CSU founded the first emissions control program in the United States, an invaluable resource for reducing greenhouse gases on campus.

UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO AT BOULDER
In 2010, the university received the nations first Gold rating from the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS).

UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI
UC is currently working to reduce its environmental footprint, with the ultimate goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY
Nearly 60 percent of Ohio State’s students travel to class using alternative transportation with the aid of on-campus bus services and discounted, system-wide, public transit passes; both fleets incorporate biofuel and electric hybrid buses.

BOWLING GREEN STATE UNIVERISTY
A group of student volunteers, known as Friday Night Lights, dedicate their Friday nights to helping BGSU conserve energy by turning off lights in academic buildings.

MIAMI UNIVERSITY
In 2012, Miami’s Physical Facilities Department hired their first full-time sustainability staffer.  The Director of Sustainability and Energy Conservation is charged with planning, development, and execution of sustainability and energy conservation initiative and for the promotion of environmentally and economically sustainable practices.

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