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 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."
Brandeis U Commences New Carpool Program
Commute Green, the university's new carpool service, enables community members to share rides, find ways to campus via multiple routes like biking, walking and busing, and see on an interactive map the locations of bike racks, bike pumps and bike repair stations.
Oklahoma State U to Connect New, More Efficient Power Plant
The construction of a new central steam and chilled-water plant will replace the university's 1947 power plant and is set to come online at the beginning of 2017. Designed to meet future needs as dictated by the growth of campus over the next 20 years, the power plant's new chillers will be 31 percent more efficient and new boilers 21 percent more efficient than existing plant equipment, resulting in a projected $350,000 reduction of annual campus energy costs.
Rowan College Burlington County Offers Vets Free Solar Energy Training
The college now offers military members transitioning out of the service and honorably discharged veterans an opportunity to participate in the college's Solar Ready Vets program, a six-week training developed by the U.S. Department of Energy that prepares participants for the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners Entry Level Exam and solar-related jobs, such as system installers and sales representatives.
Indiana U Pennsylvania Releases Rap Video About Recycling
Released in conjunction with America Recycles Day, Michael Mann, the university's Facilities Operations coordinator, worked with University Video Services to produce a rap video to bring awareness about recycling on campus. Mann played the roles of people involved in the university's recycling program, from an automotive shop employee promoting oil recycling to a grounds crew member who shuttles recycling material.
Two Universities Turn Used Gloves into Durable Goods
In an effort to reduce their solid waste streams, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Purdue University have diverted almost six tons of waste from landfills through a recycling program, called RightCycle by Kimberly-Clark Professional, that turns used lab gloves and garments into shelving, flowerpots and furniture. RightCycle is a large-scale recycling program for non-hazardous lab and industrial waste.
North Carolina State U Students & Faculty Petition for Renewable Energy by 2030
Students gathered just before the 2016 Thanksgiving holiday to ask Chancellor Randy Woodson to commit to making the university 100 percent reliant on renewable energy sources by 2030. Students working with the Climate Reality Project, Environment America and the Student Public Interest Research Groups gathered 4,200 signatures from students and faculty on a petition, as part of a national movement called “100% Committed, 100% Renewable. The Week of Action for Renewable Energy.”
Colby-Sawyer College Opens Center Devoted to Community-Based Sustainability
Complementing its new degree program in community-based sustainability, the college recently held a grand opening of its field studies office for the Sustainable Learning Initiative, an experiential learning opportunity for students to use the principles of permaculture and sustainability to explore, design and develop sustainable solutions to real and evolving community needs.
U Kentucky Students Plant Native Species as Monarch Habitat
Conceived and managed by a graduate student pursuing his doctorate in agricultural economics, the project entails two plots that each have 300 native plants upon which monarch butterflies can rely as they make their journey between Mexico and Canada.
Auburn U Implements Water Restrictions Due to Drought
Due to extreme drought conditions, the university has reduced landscaping irrigation across campus, and will reduce irrigation on athletic and recreation fields at season's end, and has discontinued vehicle washing and pressure washing of paved surfaces except for health and safety concerns, and rescheduled routine cooling tower preventative maintenance at chilled water plants.
St. Olaf College Soon to be Carbon Neutral
The college will soon be 100 percent carbon neutral after the completion of five, one-megawatt solar electric farms on college-owned land. In addition to the solar installations, the college operates a utility-scale wind turbine and purchases wind energy from a utility. The college uses over 17,000 megawatt-hours of energy.
Higher Education Leaders Sign Letter in Support of DACA
As of Nov. 21, 2016, more than 180 college and university presidents from public and private institutions across the U.S. have signed statement supporting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The statement includes the benefit of this program on communities and the economy and asks that the program not only be upheld but expanded. Signatures are still being accepted.
California State U, Northridge Breaks Ground on Sustainability Center
Construction began in September on a new Associated Students Sustainability Center, a multi-functional space serving as an expanded collections station for campus recyclables, the administrative hub of the Associated Students' sustainability programs and services and the administrative offices of the Institute for Sustainability. The building will include photovoltaic and solar hot water panels, a gray-water collection system and composting toilets.
Portland State U Wins National Award for Community Engagement
The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) has named the university the winner of the C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship Award in recognition of its 27-year partnership with Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, which have gained national and international recognition for their long-term partnership that engages faculty and students in education, research and service.
Simon Fraser U to Construct Green Building to House Sustainable Programs
The expansion of the university's Surrey campus will include a 161,000-square-foot building to house the proposed Energy Systems and Environmental Engineering Program, an interdisciplinary engineering stream that will support the clean tech and sustainable energy sector. The building's design, targeted for LEED Gold, will include electric vehicle charging stations and shared heat from the city's district energy system.
Tufts U Launches Climate Policy Lab
The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts announced the launch of its Climate Policy Lab, a research and policy center working to evaluate current climate policies, utilizing empirical, informed research to make concrete recommendations to policymakers around the world. As part of the launch, the lab announced a new partnership with the United Nations Development Program that will support the development of national and local adaptation plans, and the design and implementation of climate change policies.
Portland State U Partners with Community on Clean Air
The university’s Institute for Sustainable Solutions recently joined with Neighbors for Clean Air and Lewis & Clark Law School’s Northwest Environmental Defense Center on a new partnership, BREATHE Oregon, that will provide scientific data, legal analysis and community outreach so residents and policy makers have the information they need to make decisions that improve air quality in Portland and throughout Oregon. The partnership was awarded $250,000 from the Meyer Memorial Trust.
Unity College Begins Online MS with Sustainability Concentrations
As part of a distance education initiative, the college now offers an online master's of Professional Science degree in two tracks: Sustainability Science and Sustainable Natural Resource Management. The programs give training in core environmental science, sustainability topics and management skills.
Duke U Students Challenge Proposed Natural Gas Plant
A proposed 21-megawatt, combined heat-and-power (CHP) project that the university and Duke Energy have claimed as a clean and energy-efficient alternative for the university is facing growing opposition. Opponents worry the project will expand the use of fossil fuels, and some complain the university has not involved students, faculty and the local community.
U Texas El Paso Introduces Eco-Takeout Program
The student-driven Eco-Takeouts program is an effort to reduce and eventually eliminate the use of plastic foam by replacing disposable takeout boxes with reusable containers at different eateries throughout campus. Participants in the Eco-Takeouts program are issued a token, which can then be taken to a participating dining location on campus in exchange for an to-go container. Once the participant is done with the container, they can exchange it for a new token and repeat the process.
Campbell U Joins Campus Kitchens Project
The university is the 56th school to join the Campus Kitchens Project’s national network of kitchens that reclaims unused food from local campus vendors and transforms it into a healthy meal for those experiencing food insecurity.
Raritan Valley CC Earns Bee Campus USA Designation
In recognition of its commitment to raise awareness and enhance a habitat for pollinators, the community college has been certified as a Bee Campus USA affiliate. It is first college in New Jersey, and the 15th in the country, to receive this designation.