Western Carolina U Grounds Contributes to Human Decomposition Research

The university's grounds crew has been providing wood chips for research to determine the most efficient and environmentally friendly manner of composting human bodies after death. Call the Urban Death Project, two Office of Sustainability interns are assisting with the project that aims to eventually build a three-story human composting facility.

Georgia Tech Green Cleaning Program Earns Third-Party Certification

With certification under the Green Seal Standard for Cleaning Services, the university is now one of six higher education campuses in the nation to earn the certification. Certification verifies that Georgia Tech’s cleaning program has gone through performance testing and on-site inspections to prove cleaning efficacy, while supporting the well-being of people and reducing impact to the environment. Key requirements of certification include cleaning equipment and procedures, purchasing, training, labeling and communication. The custodial department has reduced the volume of chemicals used to clean the campus by 56 percent from 2008 levels.

U San Diego Climate Collaborative Receives $689K Grant

As storms and flooding from El Nino threaten the San Diego region’s coastline, infrastructure and economy, the San Diego Regional Climate Collaborative, a partnership managed by seven San Diego public agencies, including the University of San Diego, have received a $689,500 federal grant for coastal hazard protection and resilience. The two-year grant from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will integrate activities and provide new data on flood mapping and shoreline bluff surveys, develop additional legal, economic and scientific expertise and help cities with outreach and communication.

Harvard U Lab Renovation Receives LEED Gold

The purpose of the project was to revitalize a high performance space and to create an energy-efficient indoor environment focused on occupant health, resulting in 100 percent of the project's adhesives, paints and flooring systems were low-emitting. Energy conservation measures include more efficient LED lamps, and lighting sensors and controls to help improve the occupants’ research and time in lab.

Portland State U Launches Food Systems Certificate Program

The new program, Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Food Systems, aims to educate students on topics ranging from business and urban planning to policy and public health, providing a multi-dimensional understanding of the social, environmental, and economic impacts of the food sector. A collaborative program developed by the Institute for Sustainable Solutions, the certificate is offered through a unique partnership between four PSU units: the College of Urban and Public Affairs, Graduate School of Education, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and School of Business Administration.

Houston Universities Participate in Fundraiser for Native Prairie Parks

The Katy Prairie Conservancy recently launched a fundraiser, called Grassroots for Change, to build pocket prairies at Houston-area universities, including the University of Houston, Rice University and the University of St. Thomas. The funding will be used to install and maintain native plant areas on campus.

Georgia State U Adds Sustainability to Undergraduate Research Conference

The university’s Office of Sustainability has partnered with faculty and the Honors College to institute inaugural awards for sustainability research projects at its annual Georgia State University Undergraduate Research Conference.

Michigan State U Applies Organic-Based Liquid to Combat Ice & Snow

In alignment with the university's strategic framework, Landscape Services recently began using a liquid deicer derived from beet juice in an effort to reduce chlorides in the environment. Sidewalk snow removal teams are also equipped with special brooms that are now used during lighter snow events, which has helped cut down on salt use as well.

U North Carolina Chapel Hill Athletics Publishes Sustainability Report

UNC Athletics released its sustainability report, highlighting environmental efforts throughout campus, including a university-wide 12 percent increase in collected recycling materials.

Jacksonville State U Initiates Pilot Recycling Program

Driven by the university's Student Government Association and funded by a $38,425 grant, new bins for mixed paper and plastic were installed. The bins are made from approximately 860 milk jugs.

Utah State U Receives $29K for Clean Fuel Transportation

In an effort to improve air quality on campus, the university’s Center for Civic Engagement and Service-Learning was awarded $12,000 to buy an electric vehicle to deliver waste to the campus' organic farm and the industrial composter and to transport food waste recovered for the student food pantry through the Food Recovery Network. An additional $17,000 will provide partial funding to purchase a Chevy Volt for the Utah Conservation Corps and retire an outdated truck from its vehicle fleet. USU is providing matching funds to install solar panels on a facility to store that vehicle.

U California Davis Building Earns LEED Gold

The campus' main administration building is the university's 19th to be LEED certified. It features water-conserving plumbing fixtures, environmentally friendly lamps, energy efficient equipment and construction materials, and adoption of LEED's High-Performance Green Cleaning Program.

Binghamton U Approves Sustainable Communities Master's Degree

The new 38-credit program draws on transdisciplinary approaches to sustainability to offer students a Master of Science and Master of Arts in Sustainable Communities.

Associated Students U Montana Order Electric Buses

In alignment with the school's commitment to reduce carbon emissions, the Associated Students of the University of Montana recently ordered two 40-foot electric buses. The purchase will be creatively funded via the state's INTERCAP program and the U.S. EPA's Diesel Emissions Reduction Act grant.

Georgia Southern U Opens Campus Community Garden

Opened in summer 2015, the organic garden has six beds for student teams to grow edible plants and vegetables. One member of each team is required to attend a bi-weekly workshop to learn various gardening techniques and skills. The garden was funded by the student sustainability fee.

Emory U Students Launch Interactive Sustainability Map

After three semesters researching and mapping the university’s sustainability network of over 700 staff, faculty and undergraduate and graduate students, the university's Graduate Sustainability Group has launched an interactive Emory Sustainability Ecosystem map. The map affords current and future community members interested in sustainability an avenue to identify a range of existing initiatives to plug into their work. The map is freely available on the Graduate Sustainability Group website through a project that was funded by the Emory Sustainability Incentives Fund.

Michigan State U Launches Sustainable Wood Recovery Program

In order to preserve the university's natural areas, the university has launched a Sustainable Wood Recovery Program to recover trees that are removed from campus due to decline, storm damage or safety concerns, by transforming them into products. Known as the MSU Shadows Collection, the sale items supports the Department of Forestry and the planting of new trees on MSU's campus.

Georgia State U Receives $400K to Support Community Health

In an effort to address the impacts of urban food deserts, the university's School of Public Health's Center of Excellence on Health Disparities Research was recently granted $400,000 to implement a Healthy Corner Stores Initiative that encourages corner store owners to carry healthier food options. The funding comes from the Center for Disease Control's Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Health.

Saint Mary's College California Releases Sustainability Report

The college's latest sustainability review cites its operational and academic successes and future plans. As an U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Green Power Partner, the college has offset 100 percent of electricity consumption with renewable energy credits.

U Colorado Boulder Athletics Engages Fans in Water Conservation

As part of the university's new Water for the West campaign, fans at home basketball games will be prompted by an announcement to send a text message pledging to conserve water. For each text pledge received, CU Athletics will restore 1,000 gallons of water to the Colorado River Basin through a partnership with Change the Course, a national water initiative that engages the public, corporations and the conservation community in restoring water for people and nature. Through Water for the West, CU Athletics is restoring 10 million gallons of water to projects in the state of Colorado, balancing the estimated 12 million gallons of water used annually by the department for everything from watering Folsom Field to accommodating hundreds of thousands of fans at large-scale sporting events.

Mesa CC to Install 2MW Photovoltaic Array

The community college is preparing for the installation of the 2,045-kilowatt system, slated for completion in late April, which will provide shaded parking spots. The array is expected to provide approximately 24 percent of the community college's total energy use.

U British Columbia Releases Annual Sustainability Report

The university’s newest sustainability report aligns with the university’s new 20-year Sustainability Strategy through targeted priorities in teaching, learning and research, operations and infrastructure, community, and communications and engagement. Highlights from the report include 636 sustainability courses, 48 sustainability programs, a 22 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions relative to 2007, and a clear focus on community well-being.

U College Cork Signs Clean Energy Deal to Meet Annual Demand

(Ireland): Supplying approximately 12-gigawatt-hours per annum, the new contract delivers electricity generated from wind and biomass to the university, meeting the total yearly demand.

U California Merced Identifies Faculty Climate Action Champion

In its inaugural year, the Faculty Climate Action Champion was recently announced as biodiversity professor Michael Dawson for his work and plan to engage the campus and community in sustainability. Dawson posits that the lines we draw on maps are crucial to the representation of how climate changes the natural world, including species boundaries. By building collaborations in which people from the campus and community explore the concepts of lines and change, he hopes to build figurative and literal understanding of change and sustainability. The Faculty Climate Action Champion program is managed through UC Office of the President.

Chatham U Farm Receives Organic Certification

The university’s Eden Hall Farm has received a Certificate of Organic Operation from Pennsylvania Certified Organic, which guarantees that the farm is compliant with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program and that products grown on the farm meet all organic standards. This certification allows Eden Hall campus to continue its expansion as a teaching tool for students interested in organic certification and for local growers wanting to know more about the certification process.

Rice U Building Earns LEED Gold Certification

The university's new Continuing Studies facility features occupancy sensors, a solar array, stormwater management, daylighting and low emissive materials and is the first all-LED lighting building on campus.

U California Davis Becomes REAL Certified

The United States Healthful Food Council recently announced that the university is the second university in the U.S. to be audited and certified for Responsible Epicurean and Agricultural Leadership (REAL). Modeled after USGBC LEED, REAL Certified uses a point-based system, implemented with assistance from independent, third-party registered dietitians, based on nutritional benefit, food preparation that enhances food quality and experience, procurement from safe and high quality sources, and food that enables better choices. Stanford University was the first REAL Certified university.

SUNY Student Assembly Passes Resolution to Adopt STARS Across 64 Campuses

The Sustainability Committee of the State University of New York (SUNY) Student Assembly recently passed the resolution calling for all campuses to "gauge, monitor, and enhance the overall sustainability of its campuses and entities" by using AASHE STARS as the standard. The resolution calls for campuses to maximize each category with the intent of obtaining a Gold rating and potentially allowing campuses to be awarded grant money through Reforming the Energy Vision (REV), a New York State clean energy initiative that aims to spur clean energy innovation.

Three Universities Attain EPA Award for Reducing Food Waste

Three New England universities were recently honored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for their success in keeping food out of landfills. Salem State University won an award for the highest percent increase in wasted food prevention and diversion by a college or university; Clark University won an honorable mention for reducing food waste at the source; and Keene State College won an award for the best educational and outreach campaign. Twelve other higher education institutions received a Regional Food Recovery Achievement Certificate.

Northwestern U Community Initiative Tackles Food Insecurity

Plates Over Waste is a new university initiative involving the surrounding city's youth to address food insecurity. Inspired by a unanimous decision by the French National Assembly that obliges supermarkets to donate unsold food to charity or repurpose as animal feed, Plates Over Waste co-founder, Devon Malcolm Reid, is seeking similar changes in his community where one in seven residents suffer from food insecurity.

Oregon State U Wins Local Transportation Challenge

Top honors in the inaugural Employment Transportation Coordinator challenge, a joint project of the city and local Council of Governments, went to the university on behalf of alternative transportation efforts that include improvement at forming carpool and vanpool groups, increasing the amount of bicycle parking, creating a zonal parking system for the campus. The university will be working with local bike shops to offer repair training and reboot its bike loan program.

U Kansas Offers Undergraduate Certificate in Sustainability

Students from all disciplines can now pursue a certificate in sustainability that aims to bring a lens of sustainability to their future career. Requirements of the certificate include completing a selection of interdisciplinary coursework, an experiential learning component and a final reflection. The experiential learning requirement will involve participation in 60 hours of service, research or fieldwork with a campus department, community organization or business on a project or effort related to sustainability.

U South Carolina Honors Individuals for Community and Social Work

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. memorial holiday, the university honored Bobby Donaldson for his role in the university's recently established Center for Civil Rights History and Research, Alysha Baratta for her work to establish a community garden for refugees, and Lemuel Watson for efforts to raise awareness about barriers for underrepresented groups in the field of education.

Well-Being as a Measure of Student Success

Well-being was the focus of a session at a recent meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Universities. The session discussed the role of student well-being in higher education, what colleges can do to support well-being and why it is important. "When students go through college, it isn’t enough for them to excel academically; they should flourish", reports Insider Higher Ed. The results of a climate survey conducted at Iowa State University revealed that different groups of students report different levels of mental health and that institutions should break down data based on specific populations in order to target initiatives accordingly.

U California San Diego Building Receives LEED Platinum

The university's new Health Sciences Biomedical Research Facility II includes reuse of all moisture generated by the cooling system and non-potable water collected from numerous sites within building for irrigation of outside lawn; all plumbing is low-flow and can use non-potable water; windows are operable and employ both fixed and computer controlled exterior shading; specialized systems and equipment monitor and optimize energy usage in labs; and building materials selected for low emission of volatile organic compounds, with much recycled and locally sourced.

Energy Dept. Announces 16 Collegiate Teams to Compete in Solar Decathlon 2017

The U.S. Department of Energy selected the teams from colleges and universities across the U.S. and around the world that will now begin the nearly two-year process of building solar-powered houses that are affordable, innovative and highly energy-efficient. The 16 teams include eight returning teams and eight new teams.

South Mountain CC Begins Construction on 858KWH Solar Array

The soon to be completed 858-kilowatt array will be comprised of 2,812 ground-mounted photovoltaic modules, which are expected to generate approximately 1.9 million-kilowatt hours of electricity in the first year. The owned, operated and maintained array by SolarCity will also aid programs at the community college focused on sustainability and clean energy.

U Brighton Conducts Research on Innovative Air Monitor

(U.K.): The university's new air monitor has the ability to measure nano-sized particles that can infiltrate the human body by way of the lungs and cause dire health consequences. The city of Brighton has ongoing issues with air quality and the university was selected because of its precise location in the city. Researchers hope that discoveries will pressure policy makers to take more action to reduce air pollution.

Seven Higher Education Institutions Earn Green Cleaning Accolades

The American School & University Magazine, in conjunction with the Green Cleaning Network and Healthy Schools Campaign, recently awarded Georgia Tech as grand winner, North Carolina State U as silver, and Montgomery College; Northwestern University; Texas Tech; University of California, Irvine; and University of Tennessee, Knoxville as honorable mentions. The award recognizes schools and universities for healthy and sustainable cleaning approaches, such as chemical and equipment choices, procedures and training, that protect human and environmental health, while still cleaning at a high level.

National Union of Students Calls for Large Investment in Renewable Energy

(U.K.): The National Union of Students (NUS), a U.K.-based membership organization, recently called for a divest-invest campaign that calls for universities and colleges to transfer 100 million pounds ($142.6 million) out of fossil fuels into renewable energy. This campaign launched after a freedom of information request revealed 180 million pounds is invested in fossil fuels. The NUS also conducted a survey that concluded both students and staff strongly support divestment. The NUS plans to support students' unions as they push their institutions to divest.

Johns Hopkins U to Purchase 13.6MW of Solar for Medical Complex

Contracting with Direct Energy, the university recently announced its plans to purchase all of the electricity from a planned 13.6-megawatt photovoltaic plant for its East Baltimore campus.

Grand Valley State U Reduces Food Waste by 30 Percent

A new initiative known as Wipe Out Waste implemented in the fall 2015 semester helped the campus reduce food waste 31.8 percent by increasing food ordering accuracy, analyzing food ordering behavior, increasing supplier accountability, recipe and proportioning compliance and using a waste-tracking tool.

Georgia Southern U Installs Solar-Powered Tables

Funded by student sustainability fees, four new SolGreen solar-powered patio tables with built-in charging stations provide the campus community with an outdoor location to work and socialize while charging their devices. The tables come with four power outlets and four USB outlets, shut down automatically during rainstorms, can last five to seven days on stored power during overcast weather and contain LED lights for nighttime use.

Millersville U Signs Climate Action Plan

A climate action plan signed by university President John Anderson last week outlines the concrete steps it will take to reduce carbon emissions and attain carbon neutrality by 2040. The plan calls for cutting greenhouse emissions by 65 percent compared with the university’s 2005 baseline. The remaining 35 percent will be dealt with by buying carbon offsets.

U Georgia Awards $40K to Interdisciplinary Sustainability Projects

Ten interdisciplinary student projects were recently awarded $40,000 to implement project proposals that align with the university's 2020 Strategic Plan to promote stewardship of natural resources and advance sustainability research and education.

Terrapass Provides Offsets to College Football National Championship

The national football game playoff between top-ranked Clemson University and No. 2 University of Alabama was carbon neutral thanks to offsets provided by Terrapass for the competing teams' travel and accommodations and the College Football Playoff transportation fleet. Playoff Fan Central, a multi-day fan festival, was also carbon neutral.

The Atlantic: 'The Hidden Hunger on College Campuses'

Sara Goldrick-Rab, a professor of education policy and sociology at University of Wisconsin, last year surveyed 4,000 students at 10 community colleges across the country and found that more than half of all community-college students struggle with food insecurity. Related studies from Goldrick-Rab indicate that two types of students struggle with food insecurity, those that were in poverty before they began college and those that were forced to deal with it due to higher education expenses. While a sample of 10 colleges might seem low, the impacts are far reaching. "Hunger has a large impact on learning and college retention", reports The Atlantic.

Virginia Tech, RIT Win Cradle to Cradle Product Design Challenge

A student from Virginia Tech recently won the award for best student design with a computer backpack made from 60-70 recycled plastic bags and organic cotton capable of reducing the plastic waste and carbon emissions by taking advantage of embodied energy already in the processed plastic. Rochester Institute of Technology's Engineers for a Sustainable World Team won the best use of Autodesk Fusion 360 by developing a recycled broom with a bristle head made form biodegradable material that can be replaced independently of the broom's other components. Autodesk allowed the team to compare and conserve materials through the animation feature, promoting a Cradle to Cradle approach to design.

USA Today Says Colleges Respond to Student Interest in Combating Climate Change

"More and more, students want to know what universities are doing about climate change — from reducing their own carbon footprint to preparing students for the environmental challenges ahead," reports a recent USA Today article. With the sustainability challenges that lie ahead, colleges and universities, "from Ivy League universities Cornell and Yale to small private colleges like Luther and Unity," are incorporating solutions to climate change in the way they operate and in academic programs to meet industry demand for sustainability skills and knowledge.

North Carolina State U Takes First Step to Reduce Use of Plastic Bags

Plastic bags will no longer be available for students to use for carry-out meals from the Atrium, one of the university's largest dining facilities, starting mid-January. In their place, paper bags will be available, though students are encouraged to forgo single-use bags altogether. The removal of plastic bags is the result of more than two years of collaborative work between the NC State Stewards, a student organization, and the University Sustainability Office.