Six New York City Universities Work to Reduce Water Use

The New York City Water Challenge to Universities was recently announced by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. As part of the challenge, the participating universities will work to reduce their campus-wide average water consumption by 5 percent, which would be a savings of approximately 1.3 million gallons of water per month. The participating universities are Fordham University; Long Island University, Brooklyn campus; Pace University; St. John’s University; The New School; and Weill Cornell Medical.

U Kentucky Launches Sustainability Pitch Competition

The university's Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship and its Student Sustainability Council announced the new competition for teams interested in pitching sustainable startup ideas to a panel of judges. The startup idea must be related to one or more of the three pillars of sustainability and can be for profit or nonprofit. A total of $2,000 will be awarded to the top three finalists, with the first-place team receiving $1,000 to help make their startup a reality.

Rice U Dining Expands Inclusive Dining Options

This semester the university is debuting its plant-based charcuterie program, which seeks to make a variety of meat-and-dairy-free foods such as sausage, cheese, corned beef and pastrami. By using the term plant-based rather than vegan, the university hopes to appeal to those that don't consider themselves vegan.

Boston U Announces 15-Year Wind PPA

The university announced plans to buy electricity from 48.6 megawatts of wind generation capacity annually through a power purchase agreement (PPA) for 15 years. Last year BU used 205,000 megawatt-hours, which is what it plans to purchase from the wind facility annually. The university will receive and retire the associated 205,000 Green-e Certified renewable energy certificates. The electricity will feed the South Dakota electrical grid, one where BU can displace more fossil fuel intense electricity production.

New Partnership Aims to Increase Diversity of Solar Industry

With a goal of making the solar workforce more diverse, the Solar Energy Industries Association and the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Community Development Action Coalition have signed a memorandum of understanding to begin a comprehensive effort to help the solar industry recruit and employ more students from the nation’s 101 Historically Black Colleges and Universities. This will include hosting a national jobs fair and individual jobs fairs at the HBCU schools.

Seattle U Trustees Votes to Divest From Fossil Fuels

The university's Board of Trustees recently voted to adopt a pair of recommendations that will divest the university’s $230 million endowment from fossil fuels within the next five years. The plan calls for a 50 percent reduction in exposure to companies owning fossil fuel reserves in the marketable portion of the endowment portfolio by Dec. 31, 2020, and full divestment by June 30, 2023.

SUNY & UC Leaders Call on Higher Ed to Lead on Climate Action

University of California President Janet Napolitano and State University of New York Chancellor Kristina Johnson co-wrote a piece for the Washington Post recently that contends the higher education community is well-equipped to lead on climate action. They write, "With some 20 million college students nationwide, the impact the higher education sector could have by decarbonizing its own operations, and by educating the next generation to wean the world off fossil fuels, is significant." Because universities generally contain in-house expertise and a commitment to sustainability, they have the opportunity to be testbeds that can be used to inform public policy and mitigate immense environmental challenges.

Leuphana U Lüneburg Receives Funding for 'Dilemmas of Sustainability’ Project

(Germany) The university has received $1.06 million (900,000 Euros) for the Dilemmas of Sustainability project, which aims to empirically investigate the use of the term sustainability and develop criteria that can be used to assess sustainability programs and projects. Funding for the project comes from Ministry of Science of Lower Saxony and the Volkswagen Foundation's Science for Sustainable Development funding program.

Western State Colorado U Partners on Environmental Management Degree Expansion

The university's new partnership with Earthship Biotecture Academy allows students in its Environmental Management degree program to learn how to build an Earthship while earning their degree. Participants in the academy might also earn undergraduate credit to be applied to their bachelor’s degrees at other universities.

Insight Into Diversity Honors 2018 HEED Award Recipients

This year's Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award was given to 98 higher education institutions, 13 of which were categorized as "Diversity Champions" by exemplifying an unyielding commitment to diversity and inclusion throughout their campus communities, across academic programs, and at the highest administrative levels. The Insight Into Diversity HEED Award measures an institution’s level of achievement and intensity of commitment in regard to broadening diversity and inclusion on campus through initiatives, programs and outreach; student recruitment, retention and completion; and hiring practices for faculty and staff.

Hope College Student Center Earns LEED Gold

The new building features large, energy-efficient windows, shower facilities for cyclists, and an energy-efficient HVAC system. Twenty-one percent of the building’s content is recycled material and the college was able to divert 91 percent of construction waste from landfills. Connecting the building to its site, wood boards from an elm tree that was knocked down in a 2011 storm were used to panel the east wall of the building’s chapel.

AASHE Announces 2018 Sustainability Award Winners

From more than 300 submissions in this year’s award program, 11 submissions were selected across four categories that include the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award. Some recipients will present on their award-winning work at AASHE 2018.

Two Pennsylvania State U Dorms Receive LEED Silver

The two residence halls, one new and one renovated, feature water-efficient fixtures, energy-efficient electrical systems and low VOC paints and flooring. More than 85 percent of the construction demolition and waste was recycled. More than 90 percent of regularly occupied spaces have exterior views.

Four Universities Join University Climate Change Coalition

Second Nature recently announced that Boston University, the University of Connecticut, the University of South Florida, and Washington University in St. Louis have joined the thirteen other research universities that comprise the University Climate Change Coalition (UC3). UC3 is a new network of research institutions from across North America formed in early February that committed to leveraging their institutional strengths to foster exchange of best practices and research agenda in pursuit of accelerating local climate solutions.

Vanderbilt U Buys Solar Trash Compactors & Electric Mowers

Starting fall 2018, students can enroll in designated courses that increase their knowledge of sustainability as reflected in the human and scientific dimensions as well as ethics and policy.

U Tennessee Knoxville Opens Outdoor Garden Classroom

The Grow Lab is a new campus garden that serves as an outdoor classroom and hub for community engagement while working to address local food insecurity. The garden’s harvest will be donated to a food pantry to provide free, nutritious food for students in need. This living laboratory includes 12 garden beds. Classes and clubs can reserve plots to conduct research and engage in community service.

Syracuse U to Open Center for Social Justice With $5M Gift

A Syracuse University alumni couple is providing a $5 million donation to support the creation of the Lender Center for Social Justice, which will include research support, symposia, and faculty and student fellowships. The center aims to support innovative and multidisciplinary research of contemporary social problems while providing proactive and concrete approaches and solutions.

Eastern Kentucky U Installs 40 KW Photovoltaic System

The university's new science building now has 120 solar modules, totaling 39.6 kilowatts. The array will provide hands-on learning opportunities for the students.

Pennsylvania State U Establishes Dual-Title Doctoral Program in Climate Science

The new dual-title degree program is based on the idea that climate science is relevant across many different disciplines. Students electing this degree program will earn a doctorate with a dual-title in the participating program and in climate science. The program aims to provide a curriculum in climate dynamics and observations, numerical and statistical methods, the physical climate system, biogeochemistry, and human dimensions of climate change.

NUS Shares Results of Survey Regarding Students' Attitudes

The National Union of Students in the U.K. released new survey results revealing students' expectations for and experiences of teaching and learning for sustainable development. While this is the eighth year of the survey, it is the first year that the results include input from students outside of the U.K. The results say that 91 percent of students surveyed want their place of study to incorporate and promote sustainable development and 70 percent want sustainable development incorporated and promoted through all courses. Additionally, 61 percent said they would accept a lower salary than average to work in a company with a positive social and environmental record.

South Dakota State U Launches Sustainability Minor

Starting fall 2018, students can enroll in designated courses that increase their knowledge of sustainability as reflected in the human and scientific dimensions as well as ethics and policy.

U Maryland Receives $3M NSF Grant to Launch Graduate Program

The $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation will be used to establish a new graduate training and research program, Global STEWARDS (STEM Training at the Nexus of Energy, Water Reuse and Food Systems). The program seeks to enable UMD to recruit and train more than 60 doctoral students in the life sciences, earth system sciences, engineering and computational sciences, natural resource management, and energy and environmental policy.

U Illinois Urbana-Champaign Launches Student-Written Environmental Publication

The first published issue of Q Magazine features articles from students enrolled in the undergraduate certificate in Environmental Writing, a joint venture of the university's Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment, the School for Earth, Society, and Environment, and the English department. Students enrolled in the capstone course learn about the latest scientific research on the environment and how to communicate that research effectively to the public.

U Strathclyde Begins Equity & Diversity Program

(U.K.) STEM Equals is a new program for enhancing equality and diversity in science and engineering. Aided by a grant totaling $704,125 (538,568 British pounds), the program will introduce a nursery so that staff can attend key research meetings while on leave, and will establish public and private social media platforms for female and LGBT staff within the university.

U Strathclyde Begins Employee Well-Being & Sustainability Program

(U.K.) Following a successful five-month pilot period, the employee well-being and sustainability program will be offered to all employees in October 2018. Employees can earn points for tracking activity in areas such as fitness, commuting and waste. Employees who receive the most points are able to win individual voucher prizes, while teams with the most points can award a charity donation.

Washington Post Covers Rise of Campus Gardens

Citing a 2015 university food gardens study co-authored by a Southern Illinois University professor of geography and director of environmental studies, the article highlights a burgeoning trend over the past decade in which college students across the country volunteer their time to get back to the land or to forge a connection to the land for the first time.

U Montana Secures $1.5M Grant to Purchase Three Electric Buses

The university can now order three new zero-emission battery electric buses thanks to a $1.5 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The Associated Students of UM’s UDASH transit system was awarded the competitive grant through the FTA’s Low and No Emission Bus Program. ASUM expects to order buses this fall and receive them sometime in 2020. The new electric buses will allow Associated Students of UM to replace several diesel buses.

La Trobe U Builds 100 KW Solar Carport

(Australia) At its Albury-Wodonga campus, the new, 100-kilowatt solar-electric system covers 44 car parking spots.

U Wisconsin Green Bay Offers Bike-Sharing

In partnership with Lime, the campus community now has access to shareable bikes. Riders pay $1 for 30 minutes of riding, with discounts available for students. When the ride is finished, the rider can park the bike anywhere public, as long as it is not in way of traffic or pedestrians, and lock it to end the ride.

Bucknell U Prepares 5-Acre Campus Garden

Preliminary construction and site preparation began this summer on a 5-acre campus garden that will provide a platform for academic collaborations, sustainable food production, student life and wellness, and community engagement.

Washington U St. Louis Rolls Out Bike Share Program

The university recently partnered with Lime to offer dockless, GPS-based bike sharing. Lime will provide about three dozen bikes between the university's Danforth, North and West campuses.

Western Carolina U Hosts Air Quality Monitors

Clean Air Carolina, a North Carolina advocacy group, recently provided air quality monitors at two university locations for both research and providing real-time data to the public about weather fluctuations and particle pollution in the region. Students will be involved in data collection and measuring environmental hazards, with applications for course work, research projects and regional ecological assessment.

Times Higher Education to Develop International SDGs Ranking

A new global university ranking that aims to measure institutions’ success in meeting the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals is under development by Times Higher Education (THE). The first edition of the ranking will include metrics based on 11 SDGs and the long-term goal is to measure performance against all 17 goals. The ranking will be open to all accredited universities that teach undergraduates, and the first edition will be launched at THE’s Innovation and Impact Summit in South Korea in April 2019. Data collection will begin this autumn.

U California Expands Systemwide Sustainability Goals

As part of its Carbon Neutrality Initiative, the university now aims to provide 100 percent of its electricity across its campuses and medical centers from clean sources by 2025. Additional goals include reducing energy-use intensity by 2 percent year over year and discontinuing on-site fossil fuel combustion for water and space heating in new buildings and major renovations after June 2019. Enhanced purchasing requirements supporting sustainable sourcing were adopted and each campus will reduce municipal solid waste 25 percent by 2025, and by 50 percent by 2030.

Campaign Calls on Food Contractors to Invest in Real Food

The Community Coalition for Real Meals recently launched a nationwide campaign urging the higher education divisions of Aramark, Compass Group and Sodexo to commit to serve 25 percent "Real Food" as defined by Real Food Challenge, reduce carbon emissions and industrial animal products, invest in racial justice and equity, and increase transparency and accountability. The coalition will publish report cards on the progress of each company. The coalition is a grassroots alliance of farmers, ranchers, fishers, food workers, students and environmental advocates.

Chronicle of Higher Ed Showcases Sustainable Campus Index

In early September, The Chronicle of Higher Education highlighted AASHE's 2018 Sustainable Campus Index, an impact report that spotlights top-performing colleges and universities in 17 distinct aspects of sustainability and overall by institution type. The Chronicle piece features the top 10 schools by overall score for doctoral, master's, baccalaureate and associate institutions, along with seven of 10 subcategories, which are sortable by score.

Teams From Two Universities Win Affordable Housing Design Competition

Teams from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte won first and third, while a team from California College of the Arts won second place in the 2018 Steel Design Student Competition, put on by the American Institute of Steel Construction and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. The Affordable Housing category is socially oriented to challenge students to design affordable multi-family housing in an urban context.

U Washington Researchers Help Government Building Get Fitwel Certification

Two researchers in the university's Civil & Environmental Engineering department assisted the city of Bellevue with Fitwel certification of its city hall. Administered by the Center for Active Design, Fitwel encourages the adoption of 63 strategies that support healthy behavior by occupants. Out of a total possible 144 points, Bellevue City Hall earned 92 points, receiving a one-star rating.

U Illinois Urbana-Champaign Launches Green Laboratory Program

Launched in August 2018, the Certified Green Lab Program is for university labs that commit to sustainability through actions like reducing waste, conserving energy and abiding by the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry from the American Chemical Society. The lab program is managed by the university's Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment.

U North Carolina Charlotte Adopts Air Quality Measures for Construction

The university, with assistance from Clean Air Carolina, recently changed its Design and Construction Manual to require contracted companies to reduce diesel fuel emissions while working on campus. These new standards, which apply to all future construction projects on campus, discourage prolonged idling of equipment on construction sites and require all equipment to use the lowest exhaust emissions possible.

U Missouri Announces Ban on All Tobacco Use

The new policy prohibits all use of tobacco and electronic cigarettes on campus. The university applied for and won a grant from the American Cancer Society to help implement it.

U Tennessee Knoxville Initiates Smoke-Free Campus Policy

In an effort to protect the health and safety of university students, employees and visitors and to promote a healthy and safe work, educational and living environment, the university passed a smoke-free policy and procedure, which prohibits smoking in and on all university property, including smoking in private vehicles when parked or operated on university property. The policy also prohibits littering on university property with tobacco products or the remains of any tobacco products.

Lehigh U to Phase Out Plastic Straws

The university will be replacing plastic straws with paper ones across campus by Sept. 11. Plastic straw bans have raised concern among disability rights groups, which is why the university decided against a ban. Dining services staff will provide reasonable access to plastic straws for people who need them.

Sonoma State U Bans Plastic Straws

The university is enacting California's Assembly Bill 1884, which prohibits any sit-down food facility from providing single-use plastic straws to consumers unless requested by the customer. Culinary services will switch to paper straws.

Stony Brook U Joins County in Eliminating Plastic Straws

The university recently signed onto a county-wide initiative aimed at eliminating plastic straws. Instead of plastic, all campus dining locations other than Starbucks will now offer special straws made of polylactic acid.

Baylor U Removes Plastic Straws From Cafeterias

This semester the university pulled plastic straws from routine use in cafeterias operating in Baylor’s four residence halls. Students wanting a plastic straw must request one. Straws will be available for take-out orders.

Goucher College Goes Smoke- & Tobacco-Free

As part of continuing efforts to improve the health and well-being of the Goucher community, Goucher College is a smoke-free and tobacco-free campus, as of mid-July. This policy applies not only to smoking any substance, but also to the use of e-cigarettes and any form of tobacco anywhere on campus.

York College to Transition to Smoke- & Tobacco-Free Campus

Taking effect June 2019, the college will implement a full ban on smokeless tobacco, cigars, cigarettes, pipes or other smoking material and devices, including electronic cigarettes.

Virginia Wesleyan U Installs Flower-Shaped Solar Array

The university held a ribbon cutting in late August for the solar electric system in the shape of a flower. The flower was designed with a dual-axis system, which allows the modular fan to follow the sun across the sky throughout the day, always maintaining the optimal angle.

George Washington U Expands Dining Representative Program

There are now six GW Dining representatives who tweet information about on-campus dining options for students with dietary restrictions. GW Dining debuted the dining representative program last September, using students with specific diets – Kosher, vegan and vegetarian, Halal and gluten-free – to advertise dining vendors and meal options for students.