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.
U Illinois Chicago Upgrades Energy Dashboard
The newly improved dashboard allows campus users immediate access to real-time energy displays. Upgrades include a new analytics platform, improved navigation and added campus-wide data streams. Users can see the energy use for 13 campus buildings.
U Iowa to be Coal Free by 2025
Increasing its use of biomass and other renewable energy sources, the university has teamed up with industry experts to develop diverse fuel sources and to optimize the power plant’s handling and combustion of these new alternative fuels in order to eliminate the use of coal by 2025. The current biomass fuel portfolio includes oat hulls, Miscanthus grass and wood chips.
Suffolk County CC Earns Tree Campus USA Recognition
The Arbor Day Foundation has recognized Suffolk County Community Colleges Eastern Campus as a Tree Campus USA, a national program that honors colleges and universities and their leaders for promoting healthy trees and engaging students and staff in the spirit of conservation. The community college achieved the title by meeting Tree Campus USA’s five standards, which include maintaining a tree advisory committee, a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance and student service-learning project.
Eastern Kentucky U Sets 2036 Carbon Neutrality Goal
The university recently completed a comprehensive Climate Action and Resiliency Plan to strategically and economically reduce its carbon footprint to zero by 2036. The plan calls for the university to reach its goal via a variety of mitigation strategies, including implementation of geothermal heating/cooling throughout campus, improvements in central plant and building efficiencies, greater efficiencies in steam and chilled water, energy efficiency guidelines for new buildings, the purchase of renewable energy credits and carbon offsets and reduction in water consumption.
Virginia State U Opens Food Pantry
Thanks to a partnership with the grocery chain Food Lion, a new campus food pantry gives students with limited funds a variety of healthy foods in an effort to reduce hunger and food insecurity. This new initiative also aims to increase graduation rates by helping to meet students' basic needs.
Delaware State U Dedicates Renewable Energy Education Center
The new center will help increase access to clean energy and advance the state’s goal to get 25 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025. The center will work to establish the state’s baseline of renewable energy literacy and usage, improve the infrastructure and capacity of renewable energy education, research and extension, and offer certificate programs and credentialing services in renewable energy.
U Nebraska Medical Center Sets 2030 Carbon Neutrality Goal
Over the next 13 years, a new set of goals calls for the university and its partner, Nebraska Medicine, to become carbon neutral, with all the energy they use coming from renewable resources produced either on or off campus. The goals also call for reducing waste to zero and using less water than what falls on the main campus during an average year, about 104 million gallons.
U British Columbia Starts $10M Sustainability Investment Fund
Donors now have the option to give to the university's new Sustainable Future Fund, a fund for low-carbon emission and high environmental, social and governance equity funds. Seeded with $10 million, the fund was launched as a result of a responsible investment policy for its endowment, approved by the university's board of governors in 2015.
U Reading Sets New Carbon Reduction Goal
(U.K.) After hitting a 35 percent reduction from a 2008-09 baseline, the university announced a new carbon reduction goal–45 percent by the 2020-21 academic year. To date, more than 4 million pounds ($4.9 million) has been invested into projects to improve energy performance, the savings from which will be reinvested back into sustainability initiatives. In addition, plans are already underway to reduce water consumption by 10 percent.
Texas A&M U Begins Labeling Compostable Material
After discovering that some to-go containers were compostable but looked like non-compostable ones, a bill was passed by the Student Government Association to include labels on compostable packaging to better inform students of a whether a container is compostable or landfill.
Capilano U Gets Fair Trade Campus Designation
Canadian Fair Trade Campus recently honored the university with the designation after it's dining services provider, Chartwells, and the university’s food and beverage services group committed to a wide range of ethically-sourced food and beverage offerings and an educational component that highlights the impact that responsible buying has on producers and their communities.
U Connecticut Students Support Sustainability Gen Ed Requirement
A subcommittee in the Undergraduate Student Government submitted a sustainability requirement currently under review by the University Senate’s General Education Oversight Committee. A student environmental group currently has a petition with 1,100 student signatures supporting a sustainability general education requirement.
U Toronto Cafeteria Workers Strike for Fair Wages
Cafeteria workers employed with Aramark at the university's Scarborough Campus launched an open-ended strike recently, an escalation in their fight to end what they describe as 'poverty-wage jobs' on the university campus. These workers, members of UNITE HERE Local 75, have been bargaining a new collective agreement for several months.
Big Tent Consortium Issues Travel Ban Call to Action
The Big Tent Consortium, a global network of universities and their community partners, have issued a call to action to its members to oppose the Jan. 27 U.S. travel ban, join with other worldwide protests, and create spaces for dialogue within universities and communities everywhere to combat alleged growing Islamophobia and exclusionary trends around the world.
Auburn U Introduces Aquaponics-Grown Food
The aquaponics project, a collaborative effort among a local fishery and two university units, gives students a hands-on educational experience while providing Campus Dining with locally grown food. A 1,600-acre, local fishery is used to raise tilapia, and the discharge water is used to used to supply nutrients to plants like cucumbers, bell peppers and tomatoes as part of the project.
U Alberta Launches Free MOOC on Indigenous Canadian Histories
The faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta recently announced Indigenous Canada, a massive open online course (MOOC) that explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada. The non-credit version is available online for free on Coursera to anyone, anywhere in the world.
SUNY New Paltz Launches Sustainability Faculty Learning Community
Members of the new Sustainability Faculty Learning Community held a January retreat to explore ideas and partnerships that could expand experiential learning opportunities around sustainability. Some projects discussed included a math course that analyzes research on climate, weather and the environment, and collaborations between an environmental organization and students in engineering and marketing to develop, implement and promote new campaigns.
Hope College Building Receives LEED Silver
The building is co-located near public transportation, and uses light-colored concrete to reflect light, and stormwater retention and filtering. By weight, the materials used in construction have 32 percent recycled content, and by cost, more than 55 percent came from within 500 miles.
City College San Francisco to Offer Free Education
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee announced at a press conference recently that, starting fall 2017, community college will be tuition-free for all San Francisco residents through the City College of San Francisco. Approved via a voter proposition in November 2016, the plan allows any student who has lived in San Francisco for at least one year, regardless of income, to attend community college for free.
North Carolina State U Students Test Paper Towel Composting Solution
A team of psychology students researched, designed and tested a system to compost an estimated 34,000 pounds of annual paper towel waste from the university’s student union building. The team’s challenge was to create a simple system that captured users’ attention in order to eliminate contamination and maximize landfill diversion.
Indiana U-Purdue U Building Earns LEED Gold
The building is located close to bike lanes and bus routes, and includes parking areas for carpoolers and high-efficiency vehicles, and a stormwater-detention system for runoff. The building features water-efficient technology, daylighting and sunshades to reduce heat gain and glare. The university is sourcing 70 percent of it's power from Indianapolis Power and Light's Green Power Option, a program offering renewable energy procurement.
Higher Education Leaders Issue Statements on Immigration Ban
Many higher education leaders issued statements recently in response to the Trump administration's executive order to ban immigrants and nonimmigrant visitors from seven countries, which are majority Muslim, from entering the U.S. They criticized the ban for the disruption it caused to students and scholars and for confusion around the order and its implementation and, in many cases, expressed moral outrage.