U Virginia to Commemorate Slaves Who Built Campus
The university is planning to build a large memorial to commemorate the contributions of an estimated 5,000 enslaved people who helped build and maintain the school. With recent Board of Visitor approval, private fundraising for the project will begin immediately. This project is part of the UVA's President’s Commission on Slavery and the University.
Georgetown U Approves New Socially Responsible Investing Policy
The new policy, approved by the university board of directors, further aligns the university’s investment strategy with its commitment to social justice, protection of human life and dignity, stewardship for the planet and promotion of the common good. The new policy was developed by the board working group on socially responsible investments, which was formed in 2015 following the board’s decision to divest from direct investments in companies whose principal business is the mining of coal for use in energy production.
U Pennsylvania Wins 2017 Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Award
The University of Pennsylvania won the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council's (SPLC) 2017 Supplier Engagement Award for its collaboration with a local enterprise, Wash Cycle Laundry, to create local jobs, foster the growth of an innovative local business, and reduce the environmental impact of the university’s laundry services. In total, the SPLC recognized ten organizations and one individual for their leadership in the sustainable purchasing movement.
Pennsylvania State U Earns Tree Campus Designation
The university's new designation as a Tree Campus, a program of Arbor Day Foundation, recognizes its commitment to effective urban forest management and for engaging staff and students in conservation goals. The university currently has more than 17,000 trees in its canopy.
U Adelaide Announces Multi-Million Dollar Sustainability Plan
(Australia) The university's new Campus Sustainability Plan earmarks 14.4 million Australian dollars ($10.7 million) over four years to sustainability, with more than AU$12.8 million dedicated to carbon emissions reduction projects at the university's three campuses. While the university's goal is net zero emissions by 2050, its interim 2020 goals include two megawatts of installed solar, a 15 percent improvement in energy performance and a 50 percent reduction in waste to landfill.
Education Dept Announces '2017 Green Ribbon Schools' Recipients
Nine post-secondary institutions were among 63 honorees nationally to receive the U.S. Department of Education's Green Ribbon Schools award, an awards program that acknowledges a commitment to sustainable practices among schools, districts and institutions of higher education. Recipients of the award demonstrated leadership across three pillars: reduced environmental impact and costs, improved health and wellness, and effective environmental and sustainability education.
West Virginia State U to Sue Dow Chemical for Polluting Groundwater
The university announced in early May that it is pursuing litigation against Dow Chemical Company, among others, for contaminating the groundwater under the university’s campus. Though the pollution does not pose a direct threat to anyone on campus, the university says the company should be responsible for cleanup of the contaminants.
Pennsylvania State U Names Chief Sustainability Officer
Paul Shrivastava, recent executive director of Future Earth, a global environmental change research program, and researcher in the fields of sustainability, risk and crisis management, has been named the university’s chief sustainability officer and director of the Penn State Sustainability Institute. Shrivastava received his doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh.
Dartmouth College Sets Goals for Low-Carbon Future
Dartmouth’s president has announced new principles, standards and commitments in the areas of energy, waste and materials, water, food, transportation, and landscape and ecology. Based on a report developed by the Sustainability Task Force, these commitments include a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from campus operations by 50 percent by 2025, and by 80 percent by 2050.
Columbia U Releases First Sustainability Plan
The university's inaugural Sustainability Plan, released for Earth Day 2017, is its first formalized document bringing together sustainability efforts. It is the result of a 16-month focused collaboration with students, faculty, administrators and scientists working across departments to create a three-year, operations-focused roadmap to a more sustainable campus. The plan’s overarching goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 35 percent in the next three years through focusing on energy use and conservation, transportation and waste management.
U Virginia Launches Nitrogen Footprint Tool Network
The University of Virginia, along with Brown University, Colorado College, Colorado State University, Dickinson College, Eastern Mennonite University, Marine Biological Laboratory and the University of New Hampshire, has launched the Nitrogen Footprint Tool Network, a group of higher education institutions that are measuring and attempting to reduce their output of reactive nitrogen. The Nitrogen Footprint Tool Network is working with the University of New Hampshire Sustainability Institute to build the nitrogen footprint tool into the Campus Carbon Calculator.
U Virginia to Publish Greenhouse Gas Action Plan
The soon-to-be released Greenhouse Gas Action Plan seeks to shift energy generation and distribution to renewable energy sources, employ conservation measures in existing buildings, increase energy efficiency in labs, employ sustainable building standards in new construction and major renovations, improve efficiencies in transportation and promote awareness of individual actions.
U Maryland Approves Carbon Neutral Air Travel Initiative
The university president recently approved a strategy to offset the greenhouse gases caused by university-related student, faculty and staff air travel, which have increased 52 percent over the past decade and now account for 20 percent of the university's carbon footprint. The goal is to completely and permanently eliminate the university air travel carbon footprint, likely through the purchase of carbon offsets at a cost of approximately $5 for each domestic trip.
EAUC Announces International Green Gown Award Winners
The International Green Gown Awards, administered by the Environmental Association of Colleges and Universities (EAUC), announced the 2017 winners, who were selected by an international panel of judges. The University of the West of England, Bristol (U.K.) won the Continuous Improvement: Institutional Change category; Fiji National University, (Fiji) won in the Community category; and University of West of England, Bristol and University of Bristol (U.K.) won in the Student Engagement category. Winners of the regional Green Gown Awards competed internationally for top international honors.
U Wisconsin-Stevens Point Introduces Educational Sustainability Doctoral Program
The new doctoral program in Educational Sustainability is designed to challenge students to educate for sustainability, by understanding and responding to problems in economic, ecological and social justice contexts. Sustainability learning and leadership theories are used to enable graduates to transform educational systems and foster citizen engagement.
AASHE Endorses March for Science
AASHE joins hundreds of other organizations supporting the March for Science, happening on Earth Day, April 22, in Washington, D.C., and at satellite marches around the globe. The March for Science aims to unite as a diverse, nonpartisan group to call for science that upholds the common good and for political leaders and policymakers to enact evidence based policies in the public interest.
U Arizona Publishes Online Campus Sustainability Map
More than 600 projects, programs and features are presented on the university's new web-based map. Launched to illustrate campus-wide sustainability efforts in an accessible and centralized way, the map visualizes efforts meant to reduce energy and water consumption, and aid in waste diversion and recycling.
MIT Creates Sustainability Incubator Fund
The new Campus Sustainability Incubator Fund seeks to enable MIT community members to use the MIT campus as a test bed for research in sustainable operations, management and design. It is intended to support the generation of breakthrough sustainability solutions.
U Michigan Launches Three Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Initiatives
As part of its ongoing strategic efforts to enhance diversity in higher education and society, the university's National Center for Institutional Diversity is starting the Distinguished Diversity and Social Transformation Professorship, Grants to Support Research and Scholarship for Change, and the Distinguished Diversity Scholar Career Award and initiatives. Through these initiatives, the center is actively working to highlight the interconnections of diversity and excellence in research and scholarship in ways that positively affect knowledge production and its use for societal change.
Three Higher Ed Groups to Implement Open Access Initiative
The Association of American Universities, Association of Research Libraries, and Association of American University Presses are implementing a new initiative, expected to launch spring 2017, to advance the wide dissemination of scholarship by humanities and humanistic social sciences faculty members by publishing free, open access, digital editions of peer-reviewed and professionally edited monographs. To date, there are 12 institutions that have committed to participate in this initiative.
U Bristol Announces Fossil Fuel Divestment & Carbon Reduction Plans
(U.K.): The university's board of trustees has agreed to end investment in companies that derive more than five per cent of turnover from the extraction of thermal coal or oil and gas from tar sands by January 2018, and actively manage other areas of its portfolio of energy investments, including those in oil and gas, to achieve a material reduction in carbon emissions from these investments. This will include investing in companies at the leading edge of carbon management and in companies with strong, deliverable commitments to improving their carbon efficiency, as well as a greater investment focus on non-fossil fuel energy providers.
Kings College London Commits to Fossil Fuel Divestment
(U.K.): Sharing concern with the Students' Union about the dangers of human-induced climate change, the college recently committed to divest from all fossil fuels by the end of the year 2022, to be carbon neutral by 2025, and to increase its commitment to investments with socially responsible benefits from the present goal of 15 percent to an aspiration of at least 40 percent by 2025. With this agreement, the direct action campaign that called on the college to divest from fossil fuels drew to a close.
Smith College Releases New Climate Action Plan
Smith College's Study Group on Climate Change presented the results of their yearlong study to the college's board of trustees recently, which recommended the college take a comprehensive approach to climate action in five areas: academic, campus programming, campus operations, investments and institutional change. The report also supports specific targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and a focus on climate justice, including a yearlong initiative on women and climate change.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
U Iowa Appoints Interim Sustainability Director
Sara Maples, currently Research Support & Sustainability Manager at the Tippie College of Business, has been appointed to serve as interim director of the Office of Sustainability on a part-time basis. She initiated a competition that encourages students to develop sustainable business models that must include accounting for societal costs and benefits. She also recently completed the college’s sustainability report, in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative (G4) standards.
Business School Professors Endorse Article to President Urging Leadership on Climate
After President Donald Trump announced that he will work to roll back environmental laws and regulations, two business professors, one from Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and the other from Harvard Business School, wrote an article urging President Donald Trump to reconsider the impacts of undoing environmental regulation citing both economic and health benefits to U.S. citizens and businesses.
Loyola U Chicago Wins 2016 Climate Leadership Award
The Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities and Solution Generation recognized the university for its commitment to addressing climate change and making climate impacts on natural and social systems a key aspect of social justice. In the past year, Loyola released the university’s climate action plan with a goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2025. As Chicago’s Jesuit, Catholic university, Loyola is addressing the climate through three main strategies: its campus, its curriculum and its community engagement.
U Connecticut Announces New Sustainability Plan
The university's new 2020 Vision For Campus Sustainability & Climate Leadership Plan was announced by the president in late January. Initiated shortly after a university cohort attended COP21 in Paris, France, in 2015, the plan includes the following categories: energy and buildings, waste reduction and diversion, outreach and engagement, water resources, food and dining, grounds, open space and conservation areas, purchasing and transportation. Each category has one or two goals and a few measurements to achieve those goals.
Concordia U Introduces First Sustainability Plan
The university board of governors recently green lighted a new campus-wide policy that it hopes will serve as a catalyst to facilitate innovative, interdisciplinary and interdepartmental sustainability initiatives. The policy consists of 12 guiding principles that will be integrated into the fabric of the university through a Sustainability Advisory Committee.
U Melbourne Unveils Four-Year Sustainability Plan
(Australia): The university’s first institution-wide Sustainability Plan 2017-2020 indicates the university will become carbon neutral before 2030, achieve zero net emissions from electricity by 2021 and will now report annually on the institution’s sustainability impact and performance. The plan also calls for the establishment of a sustainable investment framework for evaluating and managing material climate change risk, and will set out the criteria for divestment from and investment in listed equities.
AASHE Publishes 2016 Annual Report
The new report details AASHE’s accomplishments and progress throughout 2016, spotlighting STARS, education and professional development, AASHE Sustainability Awards, the annual conference & expo, resources and publications, and membership. New to the report this year is a Member Spotlight section, an initiative that celebrates AASHE-member successes.
Johns Hopkins U Building Gets LEED Platinum
The Undergraduate Teaching Laboratories was designed to use 40 percent less energy than similar lab buildings. Its designs include highly efficient heating and cooling systems, occupancy sensors that control lights and HVAC, low-flow water fixtures and lab technologies designed to conserve energy and water.
GreenMetric Releases 2016 Ranking
The GreenMetric World University Ranking from the University of Indonesia released its sustainability ranking for 516 universities participating from 74 countries. The results are computed from information provided by universities online. The information is organized under six main categories: Green Statistics, Energy and Climate Change, Waste Management, Water Usage, Transportation and Education.
AASHE Welcomes Board and Advisory Council Members
In the fall of 2016, AASHE held governance elections that resulted in the appointment of two new board members, Ann Erhardt, director of energy programs and director of sustainability at Michigan State University, and Cynthia Klein-Banai, associate chancellor for sustainability at University of Illinois at Chicago. Forty-five new Advisory Council members were selected.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.