Fairfield U Releases Inaugural Sustainability Plan

The university's first Campus Sustainability Plan includes actions to enhance education and student engagement, manage energy use and other university resources, and build new facilities to increase sustainability all over campus.

Michigan State U Receives $2M for Community Partnerships

The university's Office of K-12 Outreach will use a $2.1 million grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation to work with the city of Flint, Michigan. The funding will be used in Flint Community Schools on four strategies that include training the district's managers on the effective use of data and strengthening community relations.

The Chronicle Features the 'Sustainable Campus Index'

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently covered AASHE's 2016 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 report used data from AASHE's Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS).

NY Governor Proposes Free Tuition at State Colleges

New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo proposed a new plan aimed at making college tuition-free for eligible students. The plan covers college students who have been accepted at a four-year or city university system school, provided they or their family earn $125,000 or less a year. The plan was unveiled at LaGuardia Community College alongside U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

NASFAA Releases Report on Free College

The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) recently published a report that, after evaluating current and proposed promise programs, offers considerations for promise program developers to keep in mind in creating future federal, state or local plans. The report comes after NASFAA’s board of directors charged a task force to identify ways to scale promise programs to the national level.

NY Times Covers Influence of Corporate Funding on Higher Ed Research

Recently published in The New York Times, the article highlights the experience of three professors at different universities–University of Exeter in England, West Virginia University and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich–to examine the ways agrochemical companies influenced scientific inquiry.

Niagara College Launches Commercial Beekeeing Program

The college has introduced a one-year hands-on Commercial Beekeeping graduate certificate program with its first cohort convening in spring 2017. The college maintains an on-campus apiary of 30 actively managed hives that will be used in the curriculum.

Kansas U Students Build Certified Green Home

Students from the university's Studio 804, a graduate level architecture studio, recently completed a solar-powered home that achieved both LEED Platinum and Passive House certification. The 1,941-square-foot house contains three bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths within an airtight and highly insulated envelope, wrapped in low-maintenance siding salvaged from dismantled railroad bridge trestles. Interior recycled materials include countertops made from reclaimed marble slabs sourced from a demolished office building.

Tufts U Introduces Mixed Recycling System

Beginning in spring 2017, the university will be rolling out glass/metal/plastic and paper/cardboard bins in an effort to make recycling easier and increase its recycling rate.

U Iowa Students Create Platform for Public Engagement

A group of students created 30,000 Hands, a website capable of linking the more than 30,000 university students with local service opportunities, as an outcome to a class project that challenged the students make a difference in the community. The website attempts to respond to the needs of Iowa City’s nonprofit, charity and social-good organizations while providing real-life learning opportunities for students.

U Notre Dame to Generate Hydroelectric Energy

The university and the city have reached an agreement on a 50-year lease that gives the university rights to construct and operate a hydroelectric generation facility on the dam in the St. Joseph River. The university will run transmission lines from the dam to campus to generate about seven percent of its electrical needs.

Illinois State U Launches International Partnership for Energy Majors

The new partnership with the Aarhus School of Marine and Technical Engineering in Aarhus, Denmark, enables ISU renewable energy students to study abroad. The program is part of an ongoing effort to expand opportunities to underrepresented majors in study abroad.

Northern Arizona U Building Earns LEED Gold

The university's Aquatic and Tennis Complex features recycled material use, such as steel, carpet and acoustical tiles, the use of native and climate-adapted plants, high-efficiency lamp sources and daylighting, and water-efficient fixtures and water bottle/drinking fountain stations.

U North Carolina Greensboro to Construct Two Wetlands

In an effort to improve diversity of plants and animals, enhance water quality, and provide educational and research opportunities, the university will build two wetlands on a 34-acre tract of land in spring 2017. The wetlands will be maintained by students, professors and other university employees. The project is a collaboration between numerous UNCG departments and the Greensboro Science Center.

U Kentucky Announces New Faculty Sustainability Committee

The newly formed Faculty Sustainability Council is a technical advisory group to the President’s Sustainability Advisory Committee charged with evaluating the state of sustainability curriculum and establishing short, medium and long-term goals for integrating sustainability further into the curriculum.

Business Historians Move Meeting Out of NC

The Business History Conference, an affiliate of the American Historical Association, has announced that it will change the location of its 2018 meeting from Charlotte, N.C., to Baltimore. The organization did so out of protest to HB2, known as House Bill 2 or “the bathroom bill,” the North Carolina law that bars transgender people from using bathrooms other than those associated with their biological gender assigned at birth.

McHenry County College Earns Certified Green Restaurant Status

The college's cafeteria recently earned Level 2 Green Restaurant Certification from the Green Restaurant Association, an international nonprofit organization helping restaurants become more sustainable. McHenry uses vegetables from its Horticulture Department and has eliminated the use of Styrofoam.

Hope College Students Make Campus Recycling Video

Sustainability interns worked together to produce an informative video that aims to educate their peers about recycling on campus.

U North Carolina Wilmington Begins Bike Sharing Program

As of November 2016, there are 25 bicycles at five racks across campus, and in early January that will grow to 70 bikes at seven locations. Students, faculty and staff can receive one free hour of bike time per day, or can pay an annual $25 fee for four hours of daily use.

Dickinson College to Bring 3MW Solar Array to Campus

As Dickinson approaches its 2020 deadline for carbon neutrality, the college has advanced a project that will bring a three-megawatt solar array to campus. The array is expected to provide 25 percent of the college’s electricity. The project is in conjunction with SolarCity through a 25-year power purchase agreement. Under the 25-year contract, SolarCity will install and maintain the solar panels at no cost to the college. Dickinson’s only expense will be the cost of the power itself.

American Federation of Teachers Cites Campus Violence in Letter to President-Elect

A joint letter from the American Federation of Teachers and Southern Poverty Law Center cites concern regarding discrimination in schools and on college campuses and asks the President-Elect to send a clear message that hate has no place in public discourse, public policy or society.

Energy Department Announces 28 Universities to Lead Efficiency Program

The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy recently announced nearly $35 million for 28 higher education institutions from 25 states across the country to set up and operate regional Industrial Assessment Centers, which aim to provide site-specific recommendations to small manufacturers with opportunities to improve productivity, secure information, reduce waste and lower energy costs while providing training for undergraduate and graduate engineering students in manufacturing processes, energy assessment procedures and energy management systems.

AASHE Inaugurates 13 'Centers for Sustainability Across the Curriculum'

AASHE recently concluded an application and selection process that designated 13 higher education institutions as Centers for Sustainability Across the Curriculum. The goal of this newly established program is to accelerate the infusion of sustainability content into curriculum by increasing the availability and accessibility of faculty development opportunities related to sustainability.

Emory U Awards Micro-Grants to Sustainability Projects

The general Sustainability Incentives Fund allows students, faculty and staff at the university to request up to $3,000 to complete a sustainability project. Recently awarded projects cover the areas of energy, climate, public engagement, grounds, transportation, buildings and waste. All proposals were reviewed by a committee of students, faculty and staff engaged with sustainability programs and practices on campus.

Cornell U Creates Animated Sustainability Video

Highlighting the university's living laboratory model, the new video animation features the university's ground source heating and cooling system, and draws connections between campus projects and classroom engagement.

Saint Johns U to Purchase Solar Energy

The university will soon be able to use a maximum of 40 percent of a three-megawatt, grid-tied photovoltaic array, which will provide just over 13 percent of university's annual electrical needs. The new solar field is being constructed on 23 acres of Abbey-owned land, which will be replanted to a prairie-wildflower mix between the panels to increase pollinator habitats for bees, butterflies and birds.

Georgia State U Dining Facilities Receive Green Restaurant Certification

Two dining facilities have been named as Three Star Certified Green Restaurants by the Green Restaurant Association, an international nonprofit organization helping restaurants become more sustainable. One of the dining halls applied 56 environmental steps from the Green Restaurant Association’s rating system, while the other implemented 51 steps. Both dining commons received their highest marks in the waste reduction category along with recycling and composting efforts that keep up to 90 percent of PantherDining’s waste out of landfills annually.

U Virginia Signs onto Power Purchase Agreement for Large-Scale Solar Array

The university and its Darden School of Business have entered into a solar power partnership with Dominion Virginia Power to purchase the entire output of electricity produced at a new, 17-megawatt facility for 25 years. The solar farm will cover 160 acres and meet approximately 12 percent of the university's electrical consumption.

Scientists Send an Open Letter to President-Elect on Climate Change

More than 800 Earth scientists and energy experts are urging the incoming U.S. president to take six crucial steps to address climate change to help protect “America’s economy, national security, and public health and safety." Some of the steps include reducing carbon pollution and dependence on fossil fuels, enhancing climate preparedness and resilience capacity, and upholding the Paris Climate Agreement.

Stanford U Partners on 67MW Photovoltaic System

The university teamed up with SunPower to complete a 67-megawatt solar system that will reduce the university’s greenhouse gas emissions by 68 percent and use of fossil fuels by 65 percent. The nearly 155,000-panel array tracks with the sun to optimize solar gain. Although the station is not wired directly to Stanford, the university will buy all the power the station generates for the next 25 years at a fixed price.

U California Irvine Stores Unused Renewable Energy

University engineers have successfully implemented a pilot power-to-gas hydrogen pipeline project that uses excess clean electricity. Power-to-gas is a technique for converting surplus sustainable energy from solar panels or wind farms into hydrogen, which can be blended with natural gas and utilized for power plants. At the university, the hydrogen is mixed with natural gas and burned in the gas turbine power plant to generate electricity and heat for the campus. Such systems are currently in place in Germany and Canada.

Georgia State U Receives $160K Grant for Parking Deck Lighting Improvements

After receiving an energy audit and report of a university-owned parking deck from an Atlanta-based, energy nonprofit, the university will use a matching grant of $160,340, for a total of $320,680, to retrofit or replace existing metal halide and fluorescent lighting with LED lighting, install occupancy sensors and raise light levels to increase safety. In total, the project is expected to reduce site energy consumption by 52 percent, a cost avoidance of nearly $55,000 annually.

U Illinois Urbana-Champaign Enters into Wind Power Purchase Agreement

In a 10-year power purchase agreement, the university will receive nearly nine percent of the total wind generation of a nearby utility-scale wind farm, which in combination with other renewable energy brings the campus' clean energy portfolio to about nine percent (33,200-megawatt-hours) of it's annual energy consumption. The university's climate action plan includes an objective to obtain at least 120,000-megawatt-hours per year from low-carbon sources by fiscal year 2020.

Middlebury College Reaches Carbon Neutrality

In a recent news announcement, the college explains two initiatives it used to help reach a net zero carbon footprint, meaning that the institution has balanced the amount of carbon emissions it releases with an equivalent amount sequestered or offset. In 2008, a biomass facility was brought online that helped reduce No. 6 fuel oil from two million gallons to 600,000 by using 24,000 tons of locally sourced wood chips. In addition, a conservation deal allowed the college to set aside 2,100 acres of forestland in perpetuity that it will count toward carbon sequestration.

Harvard U Achieves GHG Reduction Milestone Set in 2008

In a recently released report, the university details the path it took to achieving its goal, which it set in 2008, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2016 from a 2006 baseline, inclusive of campus growth. The steps included energy audits and energy efficiency measures across most of the 25 million square feet of campus, installing renewable energy technology, and fuel-switching and other improvements to campus utilities that lowered carbon pollution. Changes to energy supply and demand resulted in a 24 percent absolute reduction in emissions while purchased electricity from local renewable energy sources fulfilled the remaining six percent reduction.

Southern Illinois U Green Fund Supports Lactation Room

The room, which will be centrally located on the university library’s third floor, is meant to meet the needs of students, faculty and staff who need to breastfeed or pump between classes and study sessions. The student-led project started in the spring of 2014 after a community nutrition class conducted a needs assessment study of the campus. An independent study class that is working to complete the project.

U Albany Art Exhibition Focuses on Climate Change

The university art exhibit, called Future Perfect: Picturing the Anthropocene, brought more than 10 artists to the university to showcase artwork dealing with climate change by portraying the effects of humans' presence in the world.

U Virginia Leases Rooftop for 364KW Solar Array

In a lease agreement with Dominion Virginia Power, the university now has two photovoltaic array systems totaling 364-kilowatts. While the electricity is grid-tied, the university will be able to use the system for student and faculty research, and to raise awareness about renewable energy.

Michigan State U Receives $2.3M to Diversify Economics Profession

The American Economic Association chose the university, after a national competition, to house the two-month residential program until 2020. The university has received more than $2.3 million in grants from the National Science Foundation and other organizations to continue operating an economics-training program for undergraduates designed to increase diversity in economics doctoral programs and professions.

EPA Issues Final Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule applies to most colleges and universities because most generate hazardous waste. Published in the Federal Register on Nov. 28, the new updates to the rule incorporate guidance, fill gaps in the regulations that reduced effectiveness and increase flexibility to varying types of generators.

Vanderbilt U Student Prompts Solar Electric Project

A former student member of the university's tennis program proposed a photovoltaic project for the tennis center that, now installed, cut natural gas consumption at the center by 40 percent. Funding was approximately $80,000 and came from the Green Fund Working Group. The project was completed fall 2016 and is comprised of 67 solar panels.

HEIs Pen Letter to President-Elect Regarding Climate Action

Collaboratively developed by a diverse group of higher education institutions and Second Nature, an open letter to the incoming President and members of Congress asks for participation in international climate efforts, support for climate research and investment in climate solutions. Any institution of higher education can add their name to the letter by Dec. 9, to be included in the national release of this letter.

U New Hampshire Organic Farm Launches Innovative Composting Operation

At the university's Organic Dairy Research Farm, students and researchers continue to close the loop of operations through launching a composting program that provides a high-quality compost product and uses compost heat to preheat water for other farm uses.

U California, Davis & Ursinus College Win EPA Food Recovery Challenge

The University of California, Davis was recognized for its efforts to actively prevent and reduce food waste. UC Davis staff proactively gather, track and analyze metrics on a regular basis to identify opportunities to reduce waste further. Ursinus College is the winner in the Colleges and Universities data-driven section, achieving the highest percent increases in their sector comparing year-to-year data. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Food Recovery Challenge highlights outstanding accomplishments in preventing and diverting wasted food in various sectors of the U.S.

Hope College Dining Services Provider Awards Certification

The college's dining services provider, Creative Dining Services, awarded the college a Gold certification as part of the providers Sustainability and Ecological Engagement and Development program, which awards points in the categories of non-food waste, food waste, energy and water, and sourcing. Initiatives pursued at the college include trayless dining, which reduces food waste, water use, detergents and energy for cleaning, using food waste for compost and procuring local food.

Furman U Sustainability Center Receives $500K for Fellowships

Former Furman University President David E. Shi and his wife, Angela Halfacre Shi, have made a $500,000 gift to the university that will provide additional financial support for students who are actively involved in the work of the David E. Shi Center for Sustainability. The gift will create an endowed fund to support undergraduate students in sustainability research, service, and internships focused on campus and community-based projects.

Simon Fraser U Commits to Decrease Footprint of Investment Portfolio

In late November, the university's board of governors committed to decrease the carbon footprint of its investment portfolio by at least 30 percent by 2030. This target is in line with Canada’s climate commitment, and enables the university to actively encourage companies to pursue lower carbon solutions, while also reducing its investment risk.

League of American Bicyclists Announces 2016 Campus Designations

Bicycle Friendly University award designations grew this year with 37 campuses obtaining a designation for the first time. Eleven campuses moved up from one designation to another, with a total of 51 campuses now having the Bicycle Friendly Designation, a program of The League of American Bicyclists.

Syracuse U Starts Sustainability Scholarship Grant Program

A new university grant program that combines scholarship with campus sustainability is offering up to $50,000 in funding for projects that promote reductions in greenhouse emissions and increase awareness about sustainability. The grants are part of the Campus as a Laboratory for Sustainability program, overseen by a team of faculty from 11 schools and colleges. The project merges academic scholarship with the university’s broad initiatives to meet energy efficiency goals, while having the campus become a testbed for innovative ideas.

U Maryland Students Say 'No' to New Parking Lot

Students struck down a resolution supporting the construction of a 1,000 space, permeable-pavement parking lot on what is currently a wooded area on campus. Members of the student Residence Hall Association expressed concerns that the new lot would jeopardize the environment and weren't in line with the university's sustainability goals. One student was quoted as saying, "Green spaces are increasingly rare and increasingly more beneficial to mental health."