MIT Creates Sustainability Incubator Fund
The new Campus Sustainability Incubator Fund seeks to enable MIT community members to use the MIT campus as a test bed for research in sustainable operations, management and design. It is intended to support the generation of breakthrough sustainability solutions.
U Michigan Launches Three Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Initiatives
As part of its ongoing strategic efforts to enhance diversity in higher education and society, the university's National Center for Institutional Diversity is starting the Distinguished Diversity and Social Transformation Professorship, Grants to Support Research and Scholarship for Change, and the Distinguished Diversity Scholar Career Award and initiatives. Through these initiatives, the center is actively working to highlight the interconnections of diversity and excellence in research and scholarship in ways that positively affect knowledge production and its use for societal change.
Three Higher Ed Groups to Implement Open Access Initiative
The Association of American Universities, Association of Research Libraries, and Association of American University Presses are implementing a new initiative, expected to launch spring 2017, to advance the wide dissemination of scholarship by humanities and humanistic social sciences faculty members by publishing free, open access, digital editions of peer-reviewed and professionally edited monographs. To date, there are 12 institutions that have committed to participate in this initiative.
Umeå U Ends Fossil Fuel Investments
(Sweden): The decision to end all university investments in fossil fuels was made in December 2016 and contributed to the university being nearly fossil free at the beginning of 2017. A small portion of investments remain that will be phased out this spring. The university's investment policy is now being revised to include a statement prohibiting investments in fossil fuels.
Columbia U Announces Coal Divestment Plans
The university's board of trustees has voted to support a recommendation from its Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing to divest from companies deriving more than 35 percent of their revenue from thermal coal production and to participate in the Carbon Disclosure Project’s Climate Change Program.
U Virginia Hosts First Zero Waste ACC Game
With the help of 75 student volunteers, UVA Athletics, Aramark and the Office for Sustainability, fans at the sold-out Atlantic Coast Conference game recycled and composted 94 percent of all waste generated at the arena as part of this year’s Game Day Challenge. The nationwide Game Day Challenge contest promotes waste diversion at college basketball games.
Wake Forest U Appoints Former EPA Official as Director of Sustainability Grad Program
Stan Meiburg, alumnus and former Environmental Protection Agency official from 2014-2017, will lead the master of arts in sustainability program and associated dual degree and certificate programs. He is known for leading efforts to protect the nation’s air and water, clean up hazardous and toxic waste sites, build collaborative relationships with state and tribal environmental programs, and promote sound management in the EPA.
Northland College Pledges to be Sanctuary for Undocumented Students
In a letter dated March 2, the college's president cites a rising national rhetoric of intolerance and acts of hate that threaten minorities as a basis for affirming Northland’s intention to support all students in their quest to pursue their education without government interference. Unless it is legally required to do so, the college will not voluntarily share student information with or grant property access to immigration enforcement officials, nor participate in the enforcement actions of immigration officials on campus.
Johns Hopkins U Commits $55.5M to Locally Owned Businesses
The university and the Johns Hopkins Health System hired 304 workers from Baltimore's distressed neighborhoods and campus-area communities and committed $55.5 million of construction project spending with minority- and women-owned or disadvantaged businesses in the first year of their HopkinsLocal initiative, an effort to use the university's purchasing and hiring power to help expand opportunities for those living in city neighborhoods.
U Bristol Announces Fossil Fuel Divestment & Carbon Reduction Plans
(U.K.): The university's board of trustees has agreed to end investment in companies that derive more than five per cent of turnover from the extraction of thermal coal or oil and gas from tar sands by January 2018, and actively manage other areas of its portfolio of energy investments, including those in oil and gas, to achieve a material reduction in carbon emissions from these investments. This will include investing in companies at the leading edge of carbon management and in companies with strong, deliverable commitments to improving their carbon efficiency, as well as a greater investment focus on non-fossil fuel energy providers.
Kings College London Commits to Fossil Fuel Divestment
(U.K.): Sharing concern with the Students' Union about the dangers of human-induced climate change, the college recently committed to divest from all fossil fuels by the end of the year 2022, to be carbon neutral by 2025, and to increase its commitment to investments with socially responsible benefits from the present goal of 15 percent to an aspiration of at least 40 percent by 2025. With this agreement, the direct action campaign that called on the college to divest from fossil fuels drew to a close.
Hood College Receives $944K for Bioproducts Faculty Position
The college has been selected to receive a $944,000 grant from the Maryland Department of Commerce to establish an endowed faculty position in Advanced Bioproducts Research and Education focused on bringing biofuels and bioproducts production from the research laboratory to market. In addition to supporting the endowed chair position, the funding will be used for staff and support personnel, graduate and undergraduate research, and scientific equipment.
Harvard U Renovation Receives LEED Gold
Over 90 percent of occupied space within the 6,415-square-foot laboratory renovation was designed with access to daylight and views. Additionally, 39 percent of materials used were manufactured locally and 80 percent of construction waste was diverted from landfills. Overall, the space is projected to use 13 percent less lighting power.
U Maryland Farm Registers 30K Pounds of Food in Three Years
Located about 15 miles from the university, the campus farm concluded its three-year pilot program in late 2016 registering more than 29,000 pounds of vegetables, the majority of which went directly to campus dining halls. Six thousand pounds of produce were donated to hunger relief organizations, including the Campus Pantry, a program that provides emergency food to university students, faculty and staff.
California Polytechnic State U Releases Climate Action Plan
Over the 2015-16 academic year, Facilities Management and Development staff partnered with faculty and students in the college’s City and Regional Planning Department to create the university's first climate action plan. A team of twenty seven students and professors performed a background report and vulnerability assessment, comprehensive transportation survey, greenhouse gas inventory, and wrote the climate action plan. The university has the goal to achieve net zero emissions from all sources by 2050.
North Carolina State U Installs System to Reclaim Water
A new reclaimed water system designed by NC State Energy Management and a Utilities and Engineering student intern collects the unused water from the Cates Utility Plant and reroutes that water for use in the facility’s cooling towers, which uses more than 20 million gallons of water annually to cool refrigerant in the facility’s chillers. The new system is anticipated to reduce water costs by about $6,000 annually and achieving a full return on investment in less than 18 months.
Harvard U Awards $1M to Seven Climate Change Projects
Five Harvard Schools will share about $1 million, awarded by the Climate Change Solutions Fund, for seven projects. Topics include energy, decarbonization, air pollution, imagining a fossil-free future, healthy eating and reducing the environmental footprint of food, and policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to inform the 23rd annual United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting of the parties in November.
Willamette U Fitness Center Earns LEED Gold
The building features salvaged existing materials and energy-efficient lighting, improved HVAC systems and water-saving fixtures. The project also used building materials with low or no volatile organic compounds and Forest Stewardship Council-certified forest products, and recycled more than 90 percent of construction waste.
Smith College Releases New Climate Action Plan
Smith College's Study Group on Climate Change presented the results of their yearlong study to the college's board of trustees recently, which recommended the college take a comprehensive approach to climate action in five areas: academic, campus programming, campus operations, investments and institutional change. The report also supports specific targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and a focus on climate justice, including a yearlong initiative on women and climate change.
U Mississippi Offsets Electricity Use With Renewable Energy Certificates
The university recently purchased 3,835 renewable energy credits (RECs) for $1,800, which is 0.02 percent of the overall electricity bill. This offset 3 percent of institution-wide electricity use from fiscal year 2016. The purchase, which came about as a recommendation of the UM Energy Committee, allows the university to lower its carbon footprint, support the development of renewable energy technologies and practice resource stewardship.
California State U Northridge Purchases Electric Grounds Equipment
The university's Grounds Shop has switched to all-electric equipment, such as blowers and hedge trimmers, in an effort to reduce carbon emissions on campus. Making the transition to electric, energy-efficient equipment will reduce fuel consumption and gas emissions, increase air quality, benefit employees’ health and reduce noise on campus. The university's president signed Second Nature's Climate Commitment about one year ago, a pledge to make the campus climate neutral by the year 2040.
Ball State U Releases Bicycle Plan
In an effort to reduce the negative impacts from automobile trips and parking, including impervious surfaces, emissions, and the heat island effect, the new plan encourages cycling on campus by proposing dedicated bicycle paths, shared multi-use paths, and establishing bike lanes on existing streets.
PepsiCo Recycling Names Eight Zero Impact Fund Winners
The recipients of its Zero Impact Fund, an expansion of PepsiCo Recycling’s college and university programs to help bring campus eco-innovations to life, are Centre College, Johnson County Community College, Millersville University, Northern Kentucky University, University of California Berkeley, University of California Irvine, University of Massachusetts Lowell, and University of Northern Iowa. Winning project proposals include compost infrastructure development, student education and engagement campaigns, renewable energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, zero-waste programs, a bike-share program and landfill diversion programs.
Utah State U Initiates Recycling Education Week
In an effort to reduce contamination and increase waste diversion rates, the university will have volunteers available to instruct students about recycling correctly during a week-long recycling awareness event. New recycling bins will also be installed that have sensors thanking people who recycle.
U Wisconsin Stout Approves Solar Installation
A proposal to install 36 solar panels was recently approved by the Stout Student Association, the university’s student government council. Since receiving state approval, wheels are in motion for the university’s first solar panel investments using $66,280 of student Green Fee funds. All students pay the annual fee for campus sustainability-related projects.
Manhattan College Students Open Fair Trade Store
Business school students created a business and marketing plan for a student-run store focusing on selling fair trade products. As of February 2017, the store has operated as a pop-up store for Christmas and Valentine's Day. The group is planning another pop-up sale before Mother’s Day, coinciding with the end of the semester in May. The group’s long-term goals include having the store open full-time during longer periods during the academic year.
U British Columbia & U Washington Receive $1M for New Public Research Partnership
Thanks to a $1 million gift from Microsoft, the new partnership will establish the Cascadia Urban Analytics Cooperative, helping the Cascadia region address social challenges. The partnership will revolve around four main programs: a social good summer program for students, a social good symposium, research partnerships and development of new software, systems and services to facilitate data management and analysis.
Stanford U Creates Awards Program for Sustainability Champions
The Sustainable Stanford Awards program, rolled out in 2017, formally acknowledges and rewards campus champions for their dedication and support as they work to enable progress, spearhead change and implement programs that directly influence the the university’s environmental performance.
Barnard College Endowment to Divest From Climate Change Deniers
The college's board of trustees recently voted to divest from energy companies that deny climate change. The board approved the measure saying the college will “distinguish between companies based on their behavior and willingness to transition to a cleaner economy.” Barnard students initially pressed for a broad divestment pledge before proposing a more limited measure that would target only those fossil fuel companies that seek to deny climate science or thwart efforts to mitigate the impact of global warming.
U Saskatchewan Looks to Tackle Food Waste With Food Dehydrator
A new food waste dehydrator now aids composting at the university by producing a semi-composted material that will be added to existing outdoor compost piles and landscaping materials. The liquid removed from the food waste can be used as a fertilizer in campus flower beds. An estimated 2,500 pounds of food waste will be diverted from the landfill weekly.
U Maryland Implements New Dining Plan to Cut Waste
The university transitioned from a-la-carte to "Anytime Dining," a meal package that gives students unlimited access to campus dining halls. The new scheme has saved Dining Services from purchasing more than six million takeout containers, straws, lids and disposable utensils. Campus-wide waste sent to landfills also declined by more than 63 tons from 2015 to 2016.
Dickinson College to Complete New LEED for Homes Residence Hall
On March 2, the college began construction on a new, 40,000-square-foot residence hall designed to meet LEED for Homes standards, and is expected to achieve Platinum rating. Energy-efficient exterior walls and roof, high-efficiency windows and connection to the central energy plant are among the many features that help reduce carbon emissions. Additionally, an upgraded stormwater-management system, including a rain garden, will minimize impacts to the existing community systems.
Simon Fraser U Releases 20-Year Sustainability Vision & Goals
Following a year-long community-wide envisioning process, the university released its finalized 20-Year Sustainability Vision and Goals. The vision and goals will lay the foundation for the university's next five-year sustainability strategic plan. Goal topics include sustainability literacy, waste, transportation, curriculum, community engagement, accessibility and collaboration.
U Nebraska-Lincoln Students Repurpose Aluminum Waste
Students began a local nonprofit called Alumin8 that collects aluminum waste and turns it into valuable products, such as cups, night lights, trophies and plaques, and toys, that will then be donated to local shelters. Alumin8 was provided seed money from the university's Green Fund and also operates a registered student organization.
Texas A&M U Begins Bike-Share Program
In order to provide an alternative mode of transportation on campus, A&M Transportation Services contracted with Zagster to implement a bike-share program, a 24-hour service intended to help the campus community get around quickly, efficiently and inexpensively on the 5,200-acre campus. The bikes are checked out for a small fee using smartphone technology or text messages with regular cell phones, and are equipped with safety lights, internal gears, a lock attached to the bike, front basket and bell. There are 75 bikes on campus and 10 racks.
Loyola U Building Earns LEED Gold Level
The new five-story, $137 million building houses 500 students, faculty and staff and features a high energy efficient building envelope, operable windows, and natural daylighting and sun shades.
U Toledo to Test Building Renewable Energy Integration Technology
The university has embarked on a project with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to test software that can automate energy use of buildings on its campus. The project will tap into an existing 1-megawatt solar array on the campus and add battery storage to the system so solar power can be stored.
Niagara College Launches Diversity and Social Justice Center
The university announced its plans to launch a new on-campus center that aims to foster and grow the institution's commitment to diversity and social justice. Among other goals, the center will support faculty and student research, organize events, provide professional development, and serve as a community resource and expand community engagement.
U California Berkeley Begins Recycling 3-D Printer Waste
With over 100 3-D printers on campus, a new recycling initiative by students is intended to tackle 3-D printer waste by grinding then melting the waste plastic, before reshaping it into a new spool that can be used for new projects.
Pennsylvania State U to Offer Climate Change MOOC
The university will begin offering a massive open online course (MOOC) called Energy, the Environment and our Future through FutureLearn, the U.K.’s leading MOOC platform, as part of the organization’s launch in the U.S. Massive open online courses are free, self-paced courses available to anyone with internet access.
Indiana U Bloomington Faculty Approve Open Access Policy
The Bloomington Faculty Council unanimously approved an open access policy recently that ensures that faculty scholarship will be accessible and available to the public for future generations. Adopting the policy reduces barriers to research and learning by making research available on the public internet to be downloaded and shared freely, making it possible for scholarship to be more widely read and cited than literature that appears in closed-access, licensed journal databases.
U Oregon Partnership Offers Energy Efficiency Assessments
The university and a local utility company recently partnered to begin a new program offering free energy efficiency assessments for local rental properties. Working through the Office of Sustainability, trained students are sent out in pairs to assess local rental properties using the U.S. Department of Energy’s Home Energy Score to rate the home’s energy efficiency.
Syracuse U to Launch a Reusable Bag Program at Bookstore
Beginning this summer, the university will introduce the reusable bag program, which aims to reduce usage of plastic bags. There will be a variety of bags for consumers to choose from, including some that will feature artwork from student designers as part of an open contest, with the winning design featured on bags beginning in the fall semester. The university distributes an average of more than 153,300 bags per year.
Scientists' Group Launches Website to Help Federal Whistleblowers
Fearing an assault on science from the Trump administration, the Union of Concerned Scientists, whose mission is to protect scientific integrity, has created a webpage for federal scientists to report abuses, with instructions on how to avoid detection or hacking.
Yale U Graduate Students Vote to Unionize
Becoming the latest group of graduate students at private universities to unionize since the National Labor Relations Board ruled last summer that graduate students are employees, teaching assistants from eight of nine departments at Yale University voted Thursday to join UNITE HERE. The teaching assistants are seeking funding security, mental health care, affordable child care, equitable pay and parity for marginalized communities in academia.