Three Georgia Universities Address State Water Crisis

Open to students at Emory, University of Georgia and Georgia State University, the recently concluded Sustainability Case Competition asked participants to create a five-year plan to mitigate Georgia's water crisis, taking water conservation, distribution, resilience and impact on community stakeholders into account. The winning team has chance to work with the Department of Watershed Management on implementing their five-year plan, and all participants have the opportunity to intern.

U Kentucky Allocates $200K Toward Six Sustainability Projects

As part of the Sustainability Challenge Grant Program, six projects that further campus sustainability are sustainability education in the first year experience, introduction of an interdisciplinary research program for undergraduate students, development of a sustainable, community food system that includes training students how to cook, and creating a tree ambassador program that raises awareness for the benefits of urban trees.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

Dickinson College Installs Beehives

Roughly ten thousand bees were recently brought to campus by way of the campus' beekeeping cooperative, The Hive. The two beehives, which are behind a fence to prevent passers-by from walking too closely, will remain dormant through winter and come alive in the spring after the queen lays an estimated 50,000 eggs.

North Carolina State U Student Creates Campus Pollinator Garden

Thanks to a partnership between a graduate student and the university’s Grounds Management department, a large pollinator-friendly garden is both managing stormwater and providing habitat on campus. The project was funded through the NC State Sustainability Fund, a student sustainability fee of $1.50 per semester.

Pennsylvania State U Brandywine Opens Food Pantry Service

After a student-initiated investigation revealed that peers needed food assistance, the CUB-Board was born, providing food and necessities such as soap, detergent and paper towels for students in need. Students can claim up to seven bags of groceries per month or, if they have a one-time need for lunch or a snack, they can come to the CUB-Board without a full application.

National Union of Students Receives UNESCO Prize

(U.K.) Chosen by an international jury from a total of 120 nominations, the National Union of Students U.K. from the United Kingdom will receive $50,000 from the UNESCO-Japan Prize on Education for Sustainable Development, funded by the Government of Japan. The National Union of Students U.K. won for its Green Impact initiative, a 10-year-old effort that helps students’ unions improve their sustainability practices.

Smith College Signs 'Real Food Challenge'

The college signed onto the Real Food Challenge in October 2016, pledging 20 percent of the food provided on campus will meet sustainability and fairness standards set by the Real Food Challenge organization by 2020. Students, whom the college's president credits for leading the effort to get Smith to join the Real Food Challenge, have been working for three years to research food practices and raise awareness of sustainable food issues on campus.

Northwestern U Students Form New Social Justice Group

Student Action NU, a new undergraduate-led organization, is meant to serve as a space for students who want to organize around social justice issues with an intersectional perspective, such as the Black Lives Matter movement and climate injustice issues.

U California Develops Climate Change Curriculum for Non-Science Majors

Through a series of curriculum workshops held across the university system, over 200 professors in fields ranging from music to Swahili have developed new materials for existing courses that incorporate climate change and sustainability into their subject areas. The new program is part of the university’s Carbon Neutrality Initiative.

Pacific-12 Announces College Sports Sustainability Summit

In an effort to influence conferences and universities around the country on the importance of sustainability, the Pacific-12 Conference will host the first conference-wide college sports sustainability summit in June 2017 in Sacramento, California, as part of the annual Green Sports Alliance Summit. This event will convene sustainability officers from across the conference to design new collective initiatives and share best practices to transform college sports into a platform for environmental progress. This announcement was made on the inaugural Green Sports Day.

AASHE Reveals Seven Sustainability Award Winners

Cedar Valley College, Furman University and University of Manitoba were proclaimed Campus Sustainability Achievement Award winners; Erica Davis from University of Tennessee at Knoxville earned the Student Sustainability Leadership Award; an undergraduate group from the University of Houston and a graduate group from the University of Michigan each won the Student Sustainability Research Award; and Tina Lynn Evans from Colorado Mountain College received top place in the Sustainability Research Award. The AASHE Sustainability Awards program provides a vehicle for the higher education community to celebrate outstanding achievements and progress toward sustainability.

Suffolk CC Joins Community Car-Free Day

The community college and Suffolk County jointly hosted a Car Free Day Long Island Summit. The event, which SCCC President Shaun McKay kicked off, included discussion about sustainable transportation options available to the community in an effort to reduce transportation-related carbon emissions, which is 30 percent according to a regional sustainability plan.

U North Dakota Launches Social Justice Living Learning Community

The new social justice living learning community is designed for students interested in learning more about and practicing principles of social justice, including issues of equality and diversity involved in promoting a more inclusive and just society and those interested in bringing about positive social change.

Saint Mary's College Adopts Sustainable Purchasing Policy

Adopted summer 2016, the new sustainable purchasing policy supports products and companies that exhibit pro-environmental and social practices. Stakeholder workshops were held with staff to discuss the context of how a purchasing policy will work on campus and outline important next steps towards its implementation.

U Arizona Holds First Salvage Sale

In an effort to reduce the landfill waste, the Office of Sustainability and Residence Life coordinated an end-of-year move-out campaign to capture unwanted materials and recently held a sale of those items that collected over $9,000. Of the materials that were obtained at the end of the year, some of the items were donated to local charities, such as a women's resource center, a veteran center and homeless shelter.

Energy Action Coalition Becomes the Power Shift Network

After the Energy Action Coalition's newly hired (2015) executive director, Lydia Avila, completed a listening tour with stakeholders, it was decided that along with a name change, the Power Shift Network will decentralize itself into "a national network of climate, clean energy, and social justice organizations, including student-led groups, who, together, mobilize the collective power of young people to mitigate climate change and create a just, clean energy future and resilient, thriving communities for all", Avila says.

U Nebraska-Lincoln Starts Composting in Student Union

The Association of Students of the University of Nebraska's Environmental Sustainability Committee has worked with administrators, food vendors and a new Lincoln-based company to establish the composting program, which will be established in three phases. The first phase includes pre-consumer food waste, while additional phases will feature promotion and education, and expansion that includes all compostable waste from the Student Union.

2016 American Solar Challenge Announces Results

The 2016 American Solar Challenge, an eight-day, 1,975-mile road course traveling through nine national parks in seven states, provides student teams with an opportunity to demonstrate their solar-powered vehicles in real world driving conditions and test the reliability of all onboard systems. Twelve teams competed with trophies awarded to the top three finishers: University of Michigan, Dunwoody College of Technology and University of Toronto.

Appalachian State U Becomes 'Workers Rights Consortium' Affiliate

As a result of one student's efforts to transform the university's purchasing practices of logo apparel, the new partnership means that Workers Rights Consortium (WRC) investigates working conditions at factories producing clothing and other products bearing the university's name and logo. Collegiate affiliates of the WRC have a manufacturing Code of Conduct that addresses, among other things, workers' wages and rights, and workplace safety and health.

Pennsylvania State U Sees Significant Reduction in Paper Use

By sharing helpful tips with students and faculty, students reduced paper usage by 44 percent and faculty by 10 percent in the 2015-16 academic year. A Paper Reduction Committee ran promotional campaigns on ways to reduce printing as well as promoted tips such as encouraging students to print double-sided, using the multiple pages per sheet printer function, and promoting use of an electronic document sharing solution.

'Community College Innovation Challenge' Names 2016 Winners

The 2016 Community College Innovation Challenge, a team competition calling for innovative, research-based solutions for food, energy and water, named Forsyth Technical Community College as first place, and Normandale Community College and Virginia Western Community College as tied for second. The competition was hosted by the National Science Foundation and the American Association of Community Colleges.

APPA Names 2016 Sustainability Award Winners

APPA: Leadership in Educational Facilities, better known as simply APPA, recently named its award recipients for its Sustainability Award. They are Colorado State University, Elon University, George Washington University, Ohio University, Portland Community College, Spelman College, University of Michigan and University of Virginia. APPA's Sustainability Award in facilities management is designed to recognize and advance sustainability excellence in educational facilities.

Emory U Awards Inaugural Green Labs & Offices Grants

The university’s Office of Sustainability Initiatives announced the recipients of its inaugural Green Labs at Emory and Green Offices at Emory Incentives Fund programs that use small grants to fund innovative, timely and impactful projects led by students, faculty and staff to foster sustainability-related knowledge and habits in laboratories and workspaces.

U Maryland System to Direct Endowment Away from Fossil Fuels

Following a student-led movement to direct more of its portfolio toward clean energy, the University System of Maryland Foundation, which oversees the state university system's $1 billion endowment, said that it will stop investing directly in the 200 coal, oil and gas-related companies on a list complied by Fossil Free Indexes. Students at University of Maryland, College Park began the push to divest from fossil fuels in 2013, circulating a petition with nearly 600 signatures from within and outside the university.

U Cambridge Announces Fossil Fuel Divestment Decision

(U.K.) A university working group, charged in 2015, recently announced its plans to blacklist all investments in coal and tar sands, although currently it has no direct holdings in either. At this time, however, the university refuses to completely divest from fossil fuel investments. This decision follows a petition signed by more than 2,000 students calling for divestment and a student union council vote 33-to-1 in favor of divestment. Nearly 100 Cambridge academics signed an open letter in April 2016 calling for divestment.

North Carolina State U Welcomes Aquaponics to Student Union

Thanks to the NC State Sustainability Fund, the university's Talley Student Union is now home to a student-designed and maintained, 800-gallon aquaponics system, a closed-loop food production method, featuring a tank of up to 15 fish and two shallow planting containers that will grow tomatoes and salad greens in water.

U British Columbia Boasts High Savings from Lab Challenge

One hundred and twelve participants, forming 18 teams, from 11 buildings across two campuses competed in a challenge to make research labs more energy efficient. The results yielded over 7,500-kilowatt-hours per year in energy savings, primarily through raising the freezer temperatures from minus 80 degrees C to minus 70 degrees.

California State U Sacramento Receives $80K Living Lab Grant

An $80,000 boost awarded by the California State University’s Campus as a Living Lab (CALL) program will cover the redesign of Urban Agriculture, a course in the Department of Environmental Studies. A large portion of the funding will go toward running power and water to the area where students work. As a part of the Urban Ag course, students will do hands-on work in the yard, creating compost and mulch for the 3,500 trees on campus.

U Virginia Dining Partners with Student-Led Agricultural Organization

Starting in fall 2016, the new partnership enables students to use their meal plans to choose between the pre-built snack boxes and produce boxes available from Greens to Grounds, a nonprofit, student-run agricultural organization that is dedicated to making fresh, local food accessible to students.

Portland State U Claims Bee Campus USA Designation

The university was named this spring as the 10th Bee Campus USA campus in the nation by Bee City USA for its commitment to minimize the use of harmful chemical pesticides and raise awareness of the plight of pollinators, including bees, which have suffered from colony collapse and die-offs in recent years due to chemicals in the environment. In an effort to improve the university’s urban ecosystem and provide an educational opportunity for the community, the Student Sustainability Center has installed two hives with as many as 100,000 honeybees near a community garden and orchard at the edge of campus.

Harvard U Sustainability Science Alums Offer Presentations of Work

At a recent 10-year celebration of the Harvard Kennedy School's Sustainability Science Program, more than 70 program alumni gave mini-lectures over the two-day event that celebrated accomplishments and progress, and outlined challenges.

U Central Florida Begins Engineering Course with Campus as Lab

In spring 2016, the university’s College of Engineering and Computer Science offered a new honors-level course titled Systems Analysis for Sustainability in Engineered Systems that utilizes the main campus as a living laboratory to apply their systems knowledge to diverse problems. The course introduces principles of sustainable engineering, systems and life-cycle thinking, and the development of sustainability metrics and indicators.

U California Los Angeles Students Win Grant for Storm Water System

As part of the Sustainability Action Research program, five students from the Resilience Team received $18,000 from the Green Initiative Fund for a 200,000-gallon water capture system in order to save an estimated 1.22 million gallons of water per year. The system is intended to supplement water currently supplied by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power for the university's irrigation system.

Ten Canadian Institutions Top 2016 Greenest Employers List

Organized by the Canada's Top 100 Employers project, the 10 colleges and universities are Dalhousie University, Humber College, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Mohawk College, Red River College, University of British Columbia, University of Alberta, University of Northern British Columbia, University of Toronto and York University. The Greenest Employer award recognizes employers that lead the nation in making environmental values part of their organizational culture.

U California Los Angeles Becomes Fair Trade University

Fair Trade Colleges and Universities announced that after three years of working on the designation, the university received the title of Fair Trade University. The process involved forming a committee, offering Fair Trade products through campus dining outlets, and catering and hosting educational events on campus.