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.
Utah State U Initiates Recycling Education Week
In an effort to reduce contamination and increase waste diversion rates, the university will have volunteers available to instruct students about recycling correctly during a week-long recycling awareness event. New recycling bins will also be installed that have sensors thanking people who recycle.
U Wisconsin Stout Approves Solar Installation
A proposal to install 36 solar panels was recently approved by the Stout Student Association, the university’s student government council. Since receiving state approval, wheels are in motion for the university’s first solar panel investments using $66,280 of student Green Fee funds. All students pay the annual fee for campus sustainability-related projects.
Manhattan College Students Open Fair Trade Store
Business school students created a business and marketing plan for a student-run store focusing on selling fair trade products. As of February 2017, the store has operated as a pop-up store for Christmas and Valentine's Day. The group is planning another pop-up sale before Mother’s Day, coinciding with the end of the semester in May. The group’s long-term goals include having the store open full-time during longer periods during the academic year.
U British Columbia & U Washington Receive $1M for New Public Research Partnership
Thanks to a $1 million gift from Microsoft, the new partnership will establish the Cascadia Urban Analytics Cooperative, helping the Cascadia region address social challenges. The partnership will revolve around four main programs: a social good summer program for students, a social good symposium, research partnerships and development of new software, systems and services to facilitate data management and analysis.
Stanford U Creates Awards Program for Sustainability Champions
The Sustainable Stanford Awards program, rolled out in 2017, formally acknowledges and rewards campus champions for their dedication and support as they work to enable progress, spearhead change and implement programs that directly influence the the university’s environmental performance.
U California Berkeley Begins Recycling 3-D Printer Waste
With over 100 3-D printers on campus, a new recycling initiative by students is intended to tackle 3-D printer waste by grinding then melting the waste plastic, before reshaping it into a new spool that can be used for new projects.
U Illinois Chicago Upgrades Energy Dashboard
The newly improved dashboard allows campus users immediate access to real-time energy displays. Upgrades include a new analytics platform, improved navigation and added campus-wide data streams. Users can see the energy use for 13 campus buildings.
Suffolk County CC Earns Tree Campus USA Recognition
The Arbor Day Foundation has recognized Suffolk County Community Colleges Eastern Campus as a Tree Campus USA, a national program that honors colleges and universities and their leaders for promoting healthy trees and engaging students and staff in the spirit of conservation. The community college achieved the title by meeting Tree Campus USA’s five standards, which include maintaining a tree advisory committee, a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance and student service-learning project.
Texas A&M U Begins Labeling Compostable Material
After discovering that some to-go containers were compostable but looked like non-compostable ones, a bill was passed by the Student Government Association to include labels on compostable packaging to better inform students of a whether a container is compostable or landfill.
Auburn U Introduces Aquaponics-Grown Food
The aquaponics project, a collaborative effort among a local fishery and two university units, gives students a hands-on educational experience while providing Campus Dining with locally grown food. A 1,600-acre, local fishery is used to raise tilapia, and the discharge water is used to used to supply nutrients to plants like cucumbers, bell peppers and tomatoes as part of the project.
North Carolina State U Students Test Paper Towel Composting Solution
A team of psychology students researched, designed and tested a system to compost an estimated 34,000 pounds of annual paper towel waste from the university’s student union building. The team’s challenge was to create a simple system that captured users’ attention in order to eliminate contamination and maximize landfill diversion.
U Alberta Creates Multi-Faith Space
The new Multi-Faith Prayer and Meditation Space offers spiritual peace and quiet for students of various faiths, offering more opportunity to rest, recharge and get to know people of other religions.
U Louisville Taps Campus Maple Trees for Syrup
A biology class successfully tapped campus maple trees to offer a workshop to the campus and surrounding community about how to make syrup from urban maple trees. The initiative attempts to teach students that they don't have to be science majors to do science.
Pierce College Opens Food Pantry for Students in Need
The new pantry contains free, non-perishable food items. With student government acting as steward of this new program, the pantry serves a need for students who are dealing with food scarcity, students who have forgotten money on a particular day or for students who find themselves on campus after the cafeteria has closed.
Students Nationwide March for Fossil Fuel Divestment
Hundreds of students across the country staged a walk-out in an effort to show that President Donald J. Trump's climate denial does not have their consent. The demonstration was a call to academic administrators to divest from fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy.
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.