Simon Fraser U to Build $21M Energy Plant

The university has reached an agreement with a utility company to build a $21 million energy plant that will decrease the Burnaby campus’ greenhouse gas emissions by 69 percent. Fuel for the new plant will consist of wood waste biomass such as wood chips and shavings. An on-site natural gas plant currently supplies energy to the campus, which will provide back-up and peak demand once the new plant is built.

Massachusetts Institute of Tech Rolls Out Free Transit

Between now and September, MIT will roll out the Access MIT pass, one of several new commuter benefits for Cambridge campus faculty and staff. The new benefits include free, unlimited subway and local bus usage, and increased subsidies for parking at MBTA stations and commuter rail tickets. The Access MIT program is an initiative to create a variety of affordable, low-carbon transportation options and change the way the MIT community thinks about commuting. Photo credit: Lilyana Vynogradova / Shutterstock.com

College-Bound Student Rejects Scholarship From Nestlé

Hannah Rousey, accepted to Sterling College for fall 2016, turned down a $1,000 scholarship from Poland Spring, a subsidiary of Nestlé, due to her objections to bottled water and the company’s alleged environmentally destructive practices. Rousey, future sustainable agriculture and environmental protection law and policy student, said that acceptance of the money would be "hypocritical". Photo credit: GoFundMe

U British Columbia Boasts High Savings from Lab Challenge

One hundred and twelve participants, forming 18 teams, from 11 buildings across two campuses competed in a challenge to make research labs more energy efficient. The results yielded over 7,500-kilowatt-hours per year in energy savings, primarily through raising the freezer temperatures from minus 80 degrees C to minus 70 degrees.

California State U, Sacramento Receives $80K Living Lab Grant

An $80,000 boost awarded by the California State University’s Campus as a Living Lab (CALL) program will cover the redesign of Urban Agriculture, a course in the Department of Environmental Studies. A large portion of the funding will go toward running power and water to the area where students work. As a part of the Urban Ag course, students will do hands-on work in the yard, creating compost and mulch for the 3,500 trees on campus.

U Virginia Dining Partners with Student-Led Agricultural Organization

Starting in fall 2016, the new partnership enables students to use their meal plans to choose between the pre-built snack boxes and produce boxes available from Greens to Grounds, a non-profit, student-run agricultural organization that is dedicated to making fresh, local food accessible to students.

Portland State U Claims Bee Campus USA Designation

The university was named this spring as the 10th Bee Campus USA campus in the nation by Bee City USA for its commitment to minimize the use of harmful chemical pesticides and raise awareness of the plight of pollinators, including bees, which have suffered from colony collapse and die-offs in recent years due to chemicals in the environment. In an effort to improve the university’s urban ecosystem and provide an educational opportunity for the community, the Student Sustainability Center has installed two hives with as many as 100,000 honeybees near a community garden and orchard at the edge of campus.

U Washington Plans to Host Homeless Encampment

After hundreds of supporters came forward, the university is moving forward with plans to host a tent city for homeless people on its Seattle campus next year. President Ana Mari Cauce, who presented the idea in March, said the school is working toward obtaining a permit from the city and planning to host the encampment for three months in early 2017.

Indiana U Professor Uses Innovative Fundraising Method for Scholarship Endowment

Mike Keen, the Chancellor's Professor of Sustainability, will hold an early retirement party at which he intends to fundraise to endow the Sustain the Future Scholarships for underrepresented students with financial need from the South Bend region. Keen and his wife are donating $25,000 to the scholarship. They hope to raise an additional $10,000 with tattoo votes and party ticket sales.

Stanford U Students to Receive Free Bike Helmets

In an effort to increase safe bicycling practices among Stanford students, the university will distribute free helmets to nearly 1,800 freshmen in the fall of 2016, thanks to a donation from two Stanford parents.

U St. Thomas Begins Campus Microgrid Facility

Expected to be fully operational in 2018, the campus microgrid facility will include up to a 50-kilowatt solar system that will also be used for teaching about and research and testing on distributed energy resources for alternative-energy microgrids.

Montclair State U Students Partner with Businesses to Problem-Solve

Undergraduate and graduate students will be participating in a pilot, 10-week program that allows transdisciplinary teams to work with New Jersey businesses to solve sustainability problems.

Energy Dept. Announces Collegiate Wind Competition Results

The national competition that asks participants to build a small-scale wind turbine that can provide off-grid power named The Pennsylvania State University as top prize winner, while University of Massachusetts Lowell and Boise State University claimed second and third respectively.

Becker College Invests Full Endowment to Benefit Society

The trustees of the college recently announced they have officially mandated that all investments in their endowment should generate a positive impact on society, as well as a targeted financial return. The completion date for the portfolio transformation of the school’s $5 million endowment is June 2017.

Indiana U-Purdue U to Obtain Zero Waste Athletic Facility

The university's Natatorium will be ready to operate as a zero-waste athletic facility in June, becoming the first athletic facility in Indiana to achieve zero-waste goals and hosting the first Olympic event to have the zero-waste designation. Being a zero-waste venue means that by weight, 90 percent of all waste must be recycled or composted. Only 10 percent may be disposed of as trash.

U New Hampshire Procures Hydro-Energy

The university now purchases energy from three hydro-energy facilities that provide over $200,000 in annual cost savings. Currently 88 percent of the university's total power comes from a combined heat and power plant.

U California Receives $300K for Carbon Neutrality Project

With a $300,000 gift from the TomKat Foundation, established by Tom Steyer and Kathryn Taylor, the university recently launched the TomKat UC Carbon Neutrality Project. UC Santa Barbara’s Institute for Energy Efficiency will lead the project and bring together working groups of researchers, practitioners and students with wide-ranging areas of expertise from diverse disciplines in order to advance UC’s Carbon Neutrality Initiative, which aims to eliminate the use of fossil fuels through major investments in energy efficiency, behavioral incentives, the development of alternatives to natural gas and the widespread deployment of renewable energy.

Tufts U Releases Student Voting Analysis

The National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) at the university’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life released a new analysis of the voting patterns of 7.4 million college students at 783 institutions, examining voter rates by region of the country, field of study and type of institution. Results indicate higher participation among education, humanities and social science majors whereas STEM fields lag. Voting rates at four-year institutions were slightly higher than at two-year institutions, though there was little difference between private and public colleges and universities.

U California San Diego Votes to End Single-Use Plastic Water Bottles

A recent Associated Students Council resolution calls for the restriction of the sale of plastic water bottles in on-campus locations and proposes the installation of new hydration stations as well as increased access to disposable boxed water in order to support the university’s aim to be more sustainable.

U California Berkeley Fraternity to Install Solar Panels

A grant from the university's student sustainability fee fund, The Green Initiative Fund, will enable Sigma Chi fraternity to begin installing a solar electric system for its chapter house making it the first fraternity at UC Berkeley to harness electricity through solar energy. The fund also allocated a loan, which the fraternity says it will repay using savings from the solar system.

Colorado State U Offers Bike Training to Older Staff

Faculty and staff 50 years old and older can get personalized training through university’s Parking and Transportation Services, thanks to a Kaiser Permanente grant. The Back on the Bike program is designed to get more people in active transportation and physical activity by offering bike tune-ups, safety gear and tricks to travel in traffic and overcome other safety or comfort obstacles through personalized travel training.

Harvard U Building Earns LEED Platinum

Last updated in the 1940s, improvements to Longfellow Hall’s infrastructure included efficiency updates to the boiler plant, installation of energy recovery units for enhanced ventilation, substantial insulation upgrades to ensure reduced energy usage and the use of step-dimming. The building is expected to use 39 percent less lighting power.

Harvard U Sustainability Science Alums Offer Presentations of Work

At a recent 10-year celebration of the Harvard Kennedy School's Sustainability Science Program, more than 70 program alumni gave mini-lectures over the two-day event that celebrated accomplishments and progress, and outlined challenges.

Twelve Schools Become Pilots for Clean Technology

Second Nature, Clean Energy Trust and twelve higher education institutions created a new partnership that aims to accelerate clean energy technology commercialization by using their campus as testing and demonstration platforms for startup companies. Through this partnership, facilitated in part by the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, the 12 schools will develop and implement a strategy for using existing campus infrastructure to test emerging energy-related technologies.

SPLC Recognizes Three Universities for Outstanding Case Studies

Harvard University, McGill University and University of Pennsylvania were recognized by the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council as having outstanding case studies that document their sustainable purchasing efforts. The case studies can be found in SPLC's Case Study Library.

U Central Florida Begins Engineering Course with Campus as Lab

In spring 2016, the university’s College of Engineering and Computer Science offered a new honors-level course titled Systems Analysis for Sustainability in Engineered Systems that utilizes the main campus as a living laboratory to apply their systems knowledge to diverse problems. The course introduces principles of sustainable engineering, systems and life-cycle thinking, and the development of sustainability metrics and indicators.

North Carolina State U Tours State with Diversity & Social Justice Lens

Partially funded by the University Diversity Mini-Grant program, the College of Natural Resources and the University Sustainability Office coordinated a recent tour of eastern North Carolina to raise student awareness about the environmental, societal and economic dimensions of sustainability.

Michigan State U Water Research Reveals Campus Behavior

A recent survey of students, faculty and staff revealed that 37 percent prefer tap water while 36.6 percent prefer bottled water, 39 percent use filtered water stations, and 90 percent understand that bottled water has a higher environmental and economic cost than tap water. These insights will be used to help improve recycling programs and create awareness of refill stations across campus.

U California Los Angeles Students Win Grant for Storm Water System

As part of the Sustainability Action Research program, five students from the Resilience Team received $18,000 from the Green Initiative Fund for a 200,000-gallon water capture system in order to save an estimated 1.22 million gallons of water per year. The system is intended to supplement water currently supplied by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power for the university's irrigation system.

U Massachusetts Amherst Divests Fossil Fuel Holdings

A recent announcement revealed a unanimous UMass Foundation Board of Directors' decision to divest its endowment, whose value was $770 million at the end of the last fiscal year, from direct holdings in fossil fuels. The move follows divestiture from coal companies in 2015.

St. Louis U Adjunct Faculty Vote to Form Union

Part-time faculty working in St. Louis University’s College of Education and the College of Arts and Sciences voted 89 to 28 in favor of unionizing, pushing for higher wages and access to health benefits.

La Trobe U Pledges to Divest from Fossil Fuels

(Australia) Over the next five years, a new university commitment says it will divest a A$40 million ($28.7 million) managed fund from the 200 most carbon-intense companies.

Northern Arizona U Eliminates Plastic Bags

Building on momentum gained from a 2010 decision to stop using plastic bags in campus dining locations, the bookstore recently switched to paper bags made from 100 percent Forest Stewardship Certified, recycled material. Now no retail store on campus gives out plastic bags.

EPA Reveals Battle of the Buildings Results

The 2015 ENERGY STAR National Building Competition results revealed Texas A&M University taking first place with an overall energy reduction of 35.5 percent while Emory University achieved a 12 percent reduction in energy use. Hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency, the competition brings together teams in order to reduce energy and water consumption. Learn about the strategies that Texas A&M and Emory employed in the competition's wrap-up report.

Knox College Building Receives LEED Gold

The recently certified, 2014 renovation of the university's Alumni Hall features LED lighting, water control systems, fresh air exchange, occupancy sensors for lighting and ventilation, and reused material from the original building.

SUNY New Paltz Bolsters Diversity & Inclusion Support with New Hire & Task Force

The university recently announced Tanhena Pacheco Dunn as chief diversity officer after being hired in 2012 as executive director of Compliance and coordinator of Campus Climate and Title IX. Pacheco Dunn came to SUNY New Paltz from Vassar College. Additionally, a new, 21-member Diversity and Inclusion Plan Task Force has been tasked with leading the development of a draft campus diversity and inclusion plan.

Cornell U and Iceland Sign Agreement to Model Geothermal Energy

The memorandum of agreement signed between the university and Geothermal Resource Park Iceland in April 2016 aims to employ a renewable energy park on the Ithaca campus that includes geothermal and hydro resources. Geothermal Resource Park Iceland will assist the university to design a facility that transforms the campus into a zero carbon model for other campuses.

Conscious Company Compiles Top 15 Affordable Conscious MBA Program List

Using Net Impact’s Business as UNusual report as a baseline, Conscious Company added affordability, social impact, environmental sustainability and social entrepreneurship filters to compile the top 15 impact-focused business programs in the U.S. today. Each costs less than $110,000 for two years.

Amherst College Receives $1M 'Cooke Prize for Equity in Educational Excellence'

The Cooke Prize was recently awarded to the college due to its record of eliminating arbitrary barriers to admission and promoting the success of high-achieving students from low-income families.

California State U San Marcos Commissions Fuel Cell System

The new fuel cell system, a device that utilizes a chemical reaction to convert fuel into energy, was installed to help the university meet a significant portion of its energy needs while helping reduce harmful emissions.

Three New York Schools Win $1M Each in Clean Energy Competition

Bard College, University at Buffalo and SUNY Broome Community College each won $1 million as part of Governor Cuomo's Energy to Lead Competition. The competition, first announced in October 2015, challenged student-led coalitions from New York colleges and universities to design and develop innovative plans for campus and community-wide clean energy projects. Applicants were required to demonstrate innovation in one or more of the following areas: project design, business model, partnerships and/or curriculum integration.

Ten Canadian Institutions Top 2016 Greenest Employers List

Organized by the Canada's Top 100 Employers project, the 10 colleges and universities are Dalhousie University, Humber College, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Mohawk College, Red River College, University of British Columbia, University of Alberta, University of Northern British Columbia, University of Toronto and York University. The Greenest Employer award recognizes employers that lead the nation in making environmental values part of their organizational culture.

Northern Arizona U Begins Food Scrap Composting

In addition to implementing the EPA's Food Recovery Challenge that diverts and tracks organic waste and the Food Recovery Network that helps move food to food banks, a new student-led collaboration at the university yielded machines that grind and dehydrate food waste so that it can be more easily composted and used in campus landscaping.

U California Los Angeles Becomes Fair Trade University

Fair Trade Colleges and Universities announced that after three years of working on the designation, the university received the title of Fair Trade University. The process involved forming a committee, offering Fair Trade products through campus dining outlets, and catering and hosting educational events on campus.

Wesleyan U Funds Sustainability Education and Social Justice Programs

Among this year's initiatives and projects that the student-run Green Fund allocated money to are the development of sustainability curriculum into existing courses, an event featuring a Stony Brook University professor about ecofeminism, eco-grief and climate justice, and funding to a pilot program that offers cooperative food shares to a local elementary school.

Emory U to Launch Sustainability Revolving Fund

The new $1.5 million Sustainability Revolving Fund will be a self-replenishing program that will be used to fund capital-intensive energy and water efficiency projects across campus. The program is made possible by a $500,000 grant from The Kendeda Fund. The grant was matched by a $1 million investment by the university.

Central Carolina CC to Offer Construction Program

Part of the community college's Sustainability Technologies Program, the newly approved Building Construction Technology program will attempt to help students build better using sustainable technologies.

U Dayton Establishes Green Revolving Fund

The university is investing $1 million to seed the new green revolving fund, designed to encourage the community to look at the entire campus as a laboratory, classroom and testing ground for energy-saving ideas. The idea originated from a 2012 student-led research project suggesting the fund could offer a payoff to the university in cost savings, innovation, learning opportunities and create a greener campus.

U Iowa Marks Progress on 2020 Sustainability Goals

Some areas of progress include net negative energy growth, with a nearly 15 percent reduction in per capita emissions of fossil fuel-produced carbon dioxide from university-related transportation and travel, a 42 percent waste diversion rate and 14.4 percent renewable energy use.

Suffolk CC Earns International Accolades for Energy Savings

The community college was recently lauded by the League for Innovation in the Community College, an international nonprofit organization that cultivates innovation at community colleges, for its sustainability and energy savings across the college's three campuses including 51 buildings and 1.6 million square feet.