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.

U Dayton Building Earns LEED Gold

The university's newly renovated 1869 chapel features building materials that were recycled or are low-emitting materials, a plumbing system designed to reduce water consumption by 40 percent, and LED lighting to reduce electric consumption. The university purchased renewable energy credits for two years to offset 70 percent of the building’s energy usage.

U California Davis Dedicates 16MW Photovoltaic Plant

In fall 2015, the university connected the 16.3-megawatt photovoltaic power plant that is estimated to generated 14 percent of campus' electricity needs. The installation, covering 62 acres, is the largest in the University of California system. Photo: Karin Higgins/UC Davis

State University New York Sets Employee Minimum Wage

Governor Cuomo recently announced a $15 per hour minimum wage for all SUNY employees, more than 28,000. As part of the governor's 2016 agenda, he hopes to restore economic justice by making New York the first state to enact a $15 minimum wage for all workers.

U Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Offers New Sustainability Minor

Six academic units at the university now collaborate to offer a new campus-wide sustainability minor through the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment. The purpose of the Sustainability, Energy and Environment Fellows Program (SEE FP) is to promote systems-level thinking about energy and sustainability, and foster the development of an integrated view of the economy, society and the environment. The fellows program will prepare students for pursuing careers in the corporate sector, nonprofit organizations, government agencies and environmental advocacy groups.

Michigan State U Releases Video on 2015 Sustainability Highights

The newly released video mentions the university's commitment to discontinue the use of coal on campus as a fuel source, the acquisition of $170,000 in sustainability research funding, and the on-campus green office certification program had 193 spaces reduce their environmental footprint.

U Northern British Columbia Students Contribute Lab-Grown Greens to Market

Through the university's Undergraduate Research Experience award, two environmental studies students grew micro-greens that were featured at the university's farmers' market.

AASHE Appoints 43 Community Members to Governance Bodies

After AASHE's first governance election, Jay Antle with Johnson County Community College and Ben Champion from University of Arizona now hold two member-elected seats on the AASHE Board of Directors. Four members were appointed to the STARS Steering Committee, 17 and 22 were appointed or reappointed to the STARS Technical Advisors group and Advisory Council, respectively.

Rochester IT Students Create Enviro-Friendly Product Packaging

As part of a design competition, students from the packaging science department partnered with industrial design and graphic design students to re-work packaging designs for two Wegmans products, orange juice and Greek yogurt, with more sustainable materials. The challenge resembled those that would be found in the workplace, and provided the students with hands-on skills in project management, marketing and incorporating sustainable designs in product development.

Smeal MBA Sustainability Case Competition Names Five Finalists

The University of Texas at Dallas won the $10,000 prize for first place. Duke University walked away with $5,000 for finishing second. Penn State was awarded $2,500 for third place. Teams from Dartmouth and Texas Christian University were the other finalists. These five teams were selected from a pool of 28 after pitching their presentation about corporate environmental affairs at IBM to judges from IBM, PepsiCo and SKF.

U Connecticut Constructs Wildlife Corridor

A new road that links the Storrs campus to a local route was engineered with a wildlife corridor that enables critters as small as salamanders to larger ones such as white-tailed deer to cross the road without danger from vehicular traffic. Further, the path of the road was designed to minimize destruction of surrounding wetlands.

U Arkansas Keeps 240 Pounds of Microfiche from Landfill

After weeding through the university libraries' collection of microfiche films, flat plastic sheets that hold very small copies of printed material, 240-pounds were found to contain copies of very old college catalogs no longer in use. In keeping with its commitment of a zero waste campus by 2021, the school's libraries collaborated to identify and contract with a recycler of the films.

Borders College Creates Heat From Sewage

(U.K.): Under a 20-year purchase agreement, a system uses a heat pump to amplify the natural warmth of waste water and the heat is sold to the college, allowing the school to benefit from reduced cost of energy and carbon emissions. The innovative system provides about 95 percent of the heat needed by one of its campuses.

Iowa State U Receives $3M for Energy Technology Research

Researchers at the university have teamed up with collaborators at University of Houston, University of Colorado at Boulder, Washington State University, and small battery company Solid Power to develop a battery solution for storing large amounts of energy, such as the energy produced from utility-scale renewable energy wind and solar farms.

U California Divests from Private Prisons Amid Pressure

After pressure from the Afrikan Black Coalition, the university sold approximately $25 million worth of indirect investments in private prison corporations after the black student union revealed in November that the university held shares in private prisons. University shares in the private prisons, which were part of a portfolio, were sold on Dec. 1, 2015.

Greenpeace Alleges Insufficient Disclosure of Fossil Fuel Funding for Research

An undercover investigation led by Greenpeace UK alleges that two academics agreed to write papers in support of fossil fuel industry without disclosing any financial arrangement or potential conflict of interest. Greenpeace says the willingness of the academics to conceal sources of funding is in contrast with the ethics of some journals. When approached by Inside Higher Ed, the professors indicated their work would have been as independent scholars.

Penn State Unveils New Online Undergraduate Sustainability Certificate

The new online undergraduate certificate in Earth sustainability is offered through the university's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. The four courses required to obtain the certificate allow students to work with large data sets about climate change, water and food supplies, and natural hazards and conduct lab activities.

Investing in Students' Mental Health Pays Off

A recent article from the American Association of Community Colleges points to a new study from the RAND Corporation that indicates there is a corollary between mental health and academic achievement. Researchers found that the proportion of California college students at the state's public universities and community colleges increased by more than 10 percent between 2013 and spring 2015. At just community colleges, the increase was 15 percent over the same period. During that time, county governments directed a combined average of $8.7 million a year to campuses for outreach campaigns to reduce the stigma around mental health issues and to train faculty and staff to recognize students who may need help.

U Illinois Urbana-Champaign Completes 5.87MW Solar Array

The university's first utility-scale photovoltaic project, a 5.87-megawatt capacity, is expected to produce approximately 7.86 million-kilowatt-hours of electricity (about 2 percent of the electrical demand of the Urbana campus), and is the largest solar array on any Big Ten university campus. Approved in 2012 by the university's board of trustees, the project was made possible by a 10-year power purchase agreement with Phoenix Solar South Farms, LLC. The university plans to own all renewable energy credits (RECs).