EPA Shares Results of 2015-16 Green Power Challenge

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Green Power Partnership recently compiled a listing of collegiate athletic conferences with the highest combined green power usage in the nation. At nearly 414 million-kilowatt-hours, the Big 10 Conference topped the list with the largest collective total purchase among all conferences and earned EPA recognition as the 2015-16 Collective Conference Champion. The top ranking individual conference champion was identified as The Ohio State University, using nearly 123,254 megawatt-hours of green energy.

Michigan State U Unveils Tiny House

A first for the university, the tiny house project, for which a ribbon-cutting ceremony happened on Earth Day to emphasize sustainability, was a student-led, collaborative project that took over six weeks with more than 100 people from across the campus and community contributing. The 177-square foot house features materials from the university's Sustainable Wood Recovery Program, recycled newspaper insulation and a composting toilet.

Washington U St. Louis Release Report on Bottled Water Ban

The new report indicates that bottled beverage sales at the university have plummeted 39 percent since 2009, a reduction of 567,000 bottles in the 2014-15 academic year relative to the 2008-09 academic year. The school initiated the ban as part of its comprehensive efforts to reduce its environmental impact.

84 US Universities Join Second Nature's Climate Commitment

Second Nature recently announced that 84 charter college and university signatories across the U.S. have signed onto its Climate Commitment, which requires higher education institutions to set targets, report on progress publicly and collaborate with their surrounding community, all while integrating sustainability across the curriculum.

EPA Honors Winners of Campus RainWorks Challenge

In April 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency announced four winners and two honorable mentions for the 2015 Campus RainWorks Challenge. University of Texas at Arlington (Master Plan category) and University of Maryland, College Park (Demonstration Project category) were first place winners, with Stevens Institute of Technology (Master Plan) and University of California, Berkeley (Demonstration Project) taking second place. The Campus RainWorks Challenge encourages students to learn about the current or potential impacts of climate change on campus and demonstrate how using green infrastructure practices on their campuses can build resiliency to those impacts while effectively managing stormwater runoff.

Education Dept Announces 2016 Green Ribbon Schools Award

This year's U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools recognition award went to Elon University; Georgia Institute of Technology; Hawkeye Community College; Macalester College; Raritan Valley Community College; Slippery Rock University; University of Colorado, Colorado Springs; University of Louisiana at Lafayette; University of Montevallo; and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The Green Ribbon Schools recognition award honors postsecondary institutions that are demonstrating progress in three pillars: environmental impact, health and wellness, and sustainability education.

Energy Dept. Names 'Race to Zero Student Design Competition' Winners

Prairie View A&M University was named Grand Winner in the U.S. Department of Energy's collegiate competition engaging university students to design zero-energy ready homes. First and second place winners were named in four other categories. A major goal of the competition is to advance building science curriculum in university programs across the country.

Harford CC & U Maryland Tie for First in Student Competition

The Sustainable Growth Challenge, an annual collegiate competition hosted by the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission, enables teams to conduct community planning exercises, analyze economic, social and environmental aspects of sustainable growth and develop creative community solutions. Harford Community College developed a multimodal transportation proposal that connects existing bike routes throughout Harford County, while University of Maryland developed a plan to revitalize a vacant lot to address the community's needs and assuring economic prosperity for the neighborhood.

Penn State Students Plant 200 Trees in State Forest

In honor of Earth Day, students from the university's Positive Energy student organization planted the 200 trees in Rothrock State Forest.

Hampshire College to Open 17,000-SqFt Off Grid Building

The soon to open R.W. Kern Center has been designed not only to make all of its energy needs, but to provide its own water and treat its own waste. The college's goal is for the building to earn the Living Building Certification (LBC), which requires the creation of a net-zero energy, waste and water building.

American U Building Claims LEED Silver

Earning Silver certification in the LEED for Existing Buildings category, American University's Gray Hall features LEED-approved air-quality levels, adherence to a green cleaning program, water-efficient sinks, toilets and landscaping practices. The building uses 100 percent renewable energy via renewable energy credits and offsets.

U Mary Washington to Minimize Investments in Fossil Energy

After a comprehensive study conducted by a special subcommittee of the President's Council on Sustainability, the university's Board of Visitors requested the foundation board revise its investment policy to limit discretionary fossil fuel investments to a range of zero to four percent, with a target of two percent or less. The subcommittee determined that complete divestment from fossil fuel funds presented practical challenges as well as the potential for a negative impact upon the foundation’s investment portfolio.

RecycleMania Reports 2016 Tournament Results

Richland College, a two-year community college was recently crowned Grand Champion of the 2016 competition with a recycling rate of 82 percent. Loyola Marymount University won in the Per Capita Classic category with the highest total weight of recyclables per person, and North Lake College won in the Waste Minimization category with the least overall waste per person. Overall, 350 schools across North America recycled or composted a combined total of 79.3 million pounds of materials.

Indiana U Faculty Mentors & Students Collaborate in Sustainability Scholar Program

The university's inaugural 2020 Sustainability Scholar program paired undergraduates with faculty mentors from multiple disciplines to conduct high-quality research in the area of sustainability. As part of the program, students were required to complete a research work plan and enroll in a class that explores sustainability research methods.

Appalachian State U Installs Solar Energy Storage System

The newly installed solar storage system from JuiceBox Energy is located at the university's Solar Research and Teaching Laboratory and is a 8.6-kilowatt hour lithium-ion battery system based on the company’s years of automotive lithium-ion control systems engineering.

U British Columbia Concludes Yearlong Sustainability Challenge

The yearlong student competition, which sought to engage students to develop new ideas that would help the university address campus sustainability challenges, ends with three top project submissions out of 11 total. Two projects focus on the university's non-disposable to-go container program, while the project that won top honors seeks to target faculty as agents of change by increasing the number that bike to work.

Johns Hopkins Releases New Sustainability Report

Through efforts to meet the university's pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 51 percent by 2025, the newly released report reveals greenhouse gas emissions were down 30 percent from 2007 levels, despite a 9.3 percent increase in its building footprint and 4.6 percent increase in total energy consumption. A portion of the reduction is attributable to the regional electricity grid's fuel mix, which now uses less coal and more natural gas and renewable sources.

U Virginia Launches First Sustainability Plan

In honor of Earth Day, the university has launched its first comprehensive, strategic roadmap for sustainability that addresses pressing global challenges. The plan was developed by the University Committee on Sustainability and facilitated by the Office for Sustainability, representing over one hundred students, staff and faculty.

Northern Arizona U Becomes a Tree Campus

The university's Office of Sustainability recently announced the 2015 Tree Campus USA designation by the Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to effective urban forest management. As part of the designation, the university's campus landscape inventory is about 40 percent complete and will be enlisting the aid of students to finalize.

U South Carolina Enters Partnership with Biofuels Company

Through the new partnership, Midland Biofuels takes used cooking oil produced by the school and turns it into biofuel that they then sell. A portion of each gallon sold will then be donated to the university program. Midland Biofuels recently presented the university with $1,239 that will be used for sustainability programs on campus.

Wilfrid Laurier U Curbs End-of-Year Waste

The university's newest effort to reduce unwanted, end-of-year move-out material from going to the landfill includes a temporary drop-off site where students can deposit unwanted items to be recycled and reused.

Los Angeles to Offer Free Community College

In early April, the city's mayor announced a plan to offer one year of free community college to graduates of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Emory U WaterHub Initiative Wins 2016 US Water Prize

The US Water Alliance announced Emory University as one of three organizations to win top honors for its WaterHub campus-scale water reclamation project. The WaterHub is a wastewater reclamation system that allows the university to clean effluent and reuse nearly 300,000 gallons of campus wastewater daily.

Harvard U Dispenses $1M Toward Climate Research Projects

Ten research projects driven by faculty collaborators across six Harvard Schools will share over $1 million in the second round of grants awarded by the Climate Change Solutions Fund, an initiative launched last year by President Drew Faust to encourage multidisciplinary research around climate change.

Johns Hopkins U Partnership Invests Millions in Baltimore

The university is part of a plan called BLocal, a coalition of 25 organizations in Baltimore that have pledged to invest $69 million in Baltimore through design and construction contracts with local and minority- and women-owned businesses and hiring residents from the city’s most distressed communities.

U Iowa Obtains Permit to Test Biomass in Power Plant

Continuing its transition away from coal as a fuel source, the university was recently permitted by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to expand its use and testing of locally available, environmentally friendly fuels at the university-owned power plant. Called the Plantwide Applicability Limit (PAL), the permit caps university air-pollutant emissions through 2026 based on historical emission levels.

Penn State Behrend College Earns 'Sea Grant College' Status

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Sea Grant College Program have awarded Sea Grant College status to Penn State Behrend College based on its Pennsylvania Sea Grant work. Pennsylvania Sea Grant has coordinated nearly $3.4 million in applied research projects and has worked with partner organizations to address issues such as climate adaptation, aquatic invasive species and fish consumption advisories. The Sea Grant College designation indicates a sustained commitment to managing marine and coastal resources.

Georgia State U Hosts Inaugural Student Research Award

The university’s Office of Sustainability announced its first-ever student award winners for sustainability projects at the GSA Undergraduate Research Conference held April 13. Lead authors from the top seven projects were awarded $100 funded from the student sustainability fee. Winning initiatives include community engagement, climate change impacts, photography collection of trash from a local river, and environmentally friendly textile dyes.

California State U Monterey Bay Uses Falcons in Demolitions

As the university prepares for demolition of some buildings, it is using a technique called bird abatement where birds of prey, in this case falcons, are used with handlers to deter other avian friends from making homes in the vacant, soon-to-be torn down structures. Simulating hunting patterns, the falcons do not hunt the other birds, their presence provides enough of a threat to warn other birds not to nest. If a nest is completed or found with eggs in or near any of the buildings, the demolition will have to be halted until the eggs hatch and the birds mature enough to fly on their own.

U Illinois Chicago Announces Four Climate Commitments

In a campus-wide ceremony, the university's chancellor presented four climate commitment action items that were developed by the university's Committee on Sustainability and Energy. The commitments include reducing carbon emissions yielding to a carbon-neutral campus, reducing, reusing and recycling material leading to a 90 percent waste diversion rate, increasing water efficiency to an amount equal to or less than what falls within the university's boundaries, and creating a resilient campus landscape that supports a biodiverse plant and animal ecosystem.

Wilfrid Laurier U Signs Energy Improvements Contract

Led by the university's Sustainability Office and Physical Resources, the university recently signed a contract with Johnson Controls, Inc., that includes solar installations and energy system upgrades. Energy conservation measures indicated in the agreement include lighting retrofits using LED technology, low-flow water fixtures, demand control ventilation, solar electricity and hot water, and ground source heating and cooling.

Columbia U Increases Student Wage to $15 Per Hour

After lobbying from student activists, a recent statement from the university's provost said the hourly wage paid to students on work-study and in other part-time positions will increase to $15 per hour over the next three years.

Stanford U Energy System Innovation Receives Award

Stanford Energy System Innovations (SESI) was awarded with the Engineering News-Record Editor's Choice & Best Energy/Industrial awards. The SESI system transformed the university's energy supply from a 100 percent fossil-fuel-based combined heat and power plant to grid-sourced electricity and a more efficient electric heat recovery system.

Students Pen Open Letter to Canadian Government Regarding Climate Change

In an effort to advance the country's climate mitigation efforts, post-secondary students at Canadian institutions are collecting signatures on the letter that urges Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and First Ministers of Canada to ratify the COP21 agreement to render it legally binding on April 22 and to implement a carbon price in all jurisdictions.

U Wisconsin-Stevens Point Uses 100% Renewable Sources for Electricity

The first university in the state to obtain 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, the university implemented energy conservation and reduced consumption before purchasing renewable energy credits. The university’s goal is to be carbon neutral by 2050.

U Richmond Installs 205KW Bi-Facial Solar Array

The 205-kilowatt photovoltaic array, installed through a solar power purchase agreement (PPA), uses bi-facial panels, which are able to use the sun's rays from the top and bottom due to clear glazing on both sides.

Princeton U Expands Bike Share Program

Building on its commitment of providing sustainable and convenient transportation options for faculty, staff, students and the community, the university has expanded its bike-share program by 60 bicycles that can be borrowed at various points around campus. The new bikes augment a successful bike-rental pilot program the university launched in November 2014 with 10 bikes available at Princeton Station.

Arizona State U Appoints Sustainability Operations Officer

Nichol Luoma is the new University Sustainability Operations officer and associate vice president for University Business Services at the university. Before her associate vice president interim appointment, Luoma served as the university's chief procurement officer, responsible for procurement and contracting. Under her leadership, university procurement was recognized by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education's (AASHE) Sustainable Campus index as No. 1 in the purchasing category.

Worcester State U Students Offer Incentive to Divest from Fossil Energy

A student-led movement at the university aimed at pressuring the university to pull its investment money out of coal, oil and natural gas companies has recently announced its participation in the Multi-School Fossil Free Divestment Fund. Until the university makes an official statement pledging to divest itself from fossil fuels, the money in the multi-school fund will remain in escrow. The Multi-School Fossil Free Divestment Fund includes participation from more than 30 schools nationwide.

Illinois State U Students Work to Site Large Solar Array

The student-led initiative, known as Solar Pathways Project, is currently exploring possible sites for solar panels to be installed at the university. The effort is sponsored by a $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy and part of a multi-university effort organized by the Midwest Renewable Energy Association.

Appalachian State U Becomes Styrofoam-Free

Moving one step closer to its zero waste goal (90 percent waste diversion), Appalachian Food Services eliminated the use of Styrofoam in its facilities as of April 2016.

Penn State Rolls Out Food Program for Hospital Patients

The new program, ProduceRx, allows physicians within the Penn State healthcare system to prescribe a full box of fresh fruits and vegetables to patients who have been identified as high risk or under served.

College Atlantic Students Use $10K for Zero Waste in Lebanon

Funded by a $10,000 award from the Projects for Peace initiative, two College of the Atlantic students aim to create a town-wide recycling system in the Lebanon student's hometown.

Duke U Research Lab Earns LEED Gold

The university's 12,000-square-foot marine lab in Beaufort, N.C., features natural light and ventilation, reduced water use, use of permeable, light-reflecting materials for walkways and other exterior surfaces to reduce runoff and heat-island effect, and energy-efficient heating and cooling.

Four Universities Receive Water Research Funding From EPA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced $3.3 million to research human and ecological health impacts associated with water reuse and conservation practices. Of the five institutions selected, the four universities are the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Utah State University, University of Nevada, Las Vegas and University of California Riverside. Selected by the EPA in conjunction with the White House Water Summit, this research will evaluate how reclaimed water applications such as drinking water reuse, replenishing groundwater and irrigation can affect public and ecological health.

U Illinois Urbana-Champaign Welcomes Tree Campus USA Honor

The university recently accepted the Tree Campus USA designation by the Arbor Day Foundation for its efforts and commitment to effectively manage its urban forest. The university established a Campus Tree Advisory Committee in 2015 that acts as an advisory body to Facilities and Services, which is responsible for maintaining more than 20,000 trees on campus.

New York U Sets $15 Per Hour Minimum Wage for Student Workers

A letter to the university community from New York University's president indicated that by the 2018-19 academic year students will receive a minimum of $15-per-hour. All full-time employees, graduate students and full-time employees of vendors with a major presence on campus already receive at least $15-per-hour.

Portland State U Offers Free Art Supplies

University art students looking for free supplies and materials have a new outlet on campus that is populated with unused and donated art supplies. Called the Supply Studio, the initiative is a collaboration between the School of Art + Design and the Campus Sustainability Office.

U Connecticut Converts Acreage to Farmland

After approximately 35 acres of farmland were used for new apartments, the university identified nearly 40 acres of wooded university property that will be converted to farmland in an effort to assure that the total amount of land dedicated to agricultural use is maintained.

Colorado State U Releases Web Platform for Sustainability Efforts

Celebrating its recent AASHE STARS Platinum rating, the university unveiled a new interactive website that communicates its sustainability ecosystem using rotating info-graphs, videos and research stories in a user-friendly format.