Global Alliance Releases SDGs Report
At the U.N.’s High Level Political Forum in New York earlier this July, a partnership of universities, colleges and sustainability networks called the Global Alliance released a report examining the global contribution of higher education to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The findings highlight the opportunities and challenges in embedding the SDGs in higher education, as well as higher education's commitment to increase its contributions to the SDGs. The report also shows the aspiration of students to learn more about the SDGs and the changing focus of young people as they start to prioritize social justice and environmental ethics.
U Denver Pilots New Shuttle
Building on the momentum of providing sustainable transportation options to students and staff, the university is piloting a new, subsidized shuttle service. The new service will provide rides along two designated routes around the perimeter of campus, with stops that include the university's light rail station, the new administrative building and four other locations around campus.
U Glasgow Initiates Deposit System for Bottles & Cans
(Scotland) A newly installed machine accepts the campus community's recyclable bottles in exchange for a deposit. For every bottle that is accepted, a donation to a charity that raises funds for the university's cancer research is made.
Arizona State U Launches 'Carbon Project'
The ASU Carbon Project is a program that purchases carbon offset credits and supports local projects that mitigate carbon. To partially fund the carbon-reduction initiatives, the university enacted a mandatory price on carbon for all ASU-sponsored air travel at a current rate of $8 per round-trip flight. The ASU Carbon Project will begin to use these funds for carbon offset credits in 2025.
Energy Dept Announces Winners of Cleantech University Prize
A team at California Institute of Technology took first place in the Energy Department's Cleantech University Prize (Cleantech UP), while Northwestern University clinched second place and the University of Houston claimed third place. A Building Technologies Prize was awarded to a team at Princeton University, and the Department of Defense sponsored an Operational Energy Prize, which went to a team from University of Chicago and Northwestern University. Cleantech UP business plan competitions provide aspiring student entrepreneurs with the mentorship, business development skills and training, and investor feedback they need to turn their clean energy ideas into businesses offering real-world solutions.
U Winnipeg Begins Using Biomass
The university’s new biomass heating system runs on locally sourced wood pellets that are fed into two 100 kilowatt boilers. The system is expected to produce approximately 2.5 percent of the university's energy needs.
Harvard U Adopts Sustainable IT Standards
The new standards focus on actionable recommendations that schools and departments can adopt in three core areas – waste, energy and practice – aimed at reducing the environmental impact of technology. The Sustainable IT Standards were created by the Green IT Working Group that comprises IT, operations and facilities professionals, in collaboration with the Office for Sustainability and Harvard University Information Technology.
U Central Florida Joins Coastal Sustainability Consortium
As part of its ongoing efforts to help develop sustainable, resilient and economically successful coastal communities while ensuring the ecological security of coastal ecosystems, the university’s National Center for Integrated Coastal Research recently became a member of the Blue Community Consortium. The consortium has developed a certification process based on global sustainable tourism criteria that emphasizes coastal-habitat protection, restoration and enhancement.
Northeast Schools Partner to Launch Sustainable Energy Training Consortium
Antioch University New England, Greenfield Community College, Keene State College, and the School for International Training started the Ecovation Hub Education and Training Consortium to bring broader sustainable economy knowledge and opportunities to the tri-state area of Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. The consortium introduced its first course this summer at Keene State College, which was a two-week program in sustainable building practices.
US EPA Releases Top 30 List of Green Power Users
The Environmental Protection Agency's Top 30 College & University list highlights the largest green power users among higher education institutions within the Green Power Partnership. The combined green power use of these organizations amounts to more than 3 billion kilowatt-hours of green power annually. Nine of the top 30 institutions are meeting 100 percent (or more) of their electricity demand with green power.
U Minnesota Duluth Adds 40 KW Solar System to Residential Apartments
After three years of planning by a student organization called the Solar University Network (SUN) Delegation, the university connected a 40 kilowatt solar electric system to the Aspen Building, part of its Oakland Apartment Complex. The installation was funded by a student service fee, the university's green revolving fund and UMD's Housing and Residence Life. The system is expected to reduce electricity costs by about $3,500 per year.
2018 Biomimicry Global Design Challenge Announces Winners
California State University at Long Beach, Cornell University, Georgia Tech, Tung Hai University (Taiwan), and the University of Utrecht (Netherlands) were recently named institutional winners of the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge, a competition that asks innovators to create nature-inspired inventions that reverse, mitigate or adapt to climate change. Over 60 teams from 16 countries entered the challenge. Finalist teams receive cash prizes and an invitation to the 2018-19 Biomimicry Launchpad.
Emory U WaterHub Receives Innovation Award
Given to the university for its wastewater reclamation and reuse system, the 2018 IDEA Innovation Award is an annual competition by the International District Energy Association (IDEA) intended to recognize energy and water savings. To date, using an ecological treatment process to clean wastewater, Emory's WaterHub has displaced over 160 million gallons of municipally supplied potable water with reclaimed water. It also provides opportunities for research and education.
Centre College to Offer Social Justice Minor
Starting in the fall of 2018, the interdisciplinary minor in social justice would require 19 credit hours in courses that discuss areas of methods, intersectionality and political economy, in addition to a number of electives covering topics of race, gender, wealth, poverty and environment. Currently, there are 11 students registered for the social justice minor, along with one student who has designed the model as a major.
Shepherd U & U West Indies Receive $100K Grant Each Install Solar Array on Library
The $100,000 grants, awarded on behalf of EBSCO's 2018 solar grant program, will offset the cost of installing solar panels at the two schools' libraries. Solar energy on Shepherd University's library will be the first building on campus to use net metering to offset an academic building's energy consumption, while the installation at the University of the West Indies will help the school reduce electricity supplied from conventional sources.
Madison College to Connect Solar Electric System
The installation of 5,250 photovoltaic (PV) panels at Madison College's Truax campus is expected to be complete by September and could save the college $200,000 per year in electricity costs. Students enrolled in related fields such as electrical apprentice, electronics, electrical engineering, industrial maintenance and architecture will also benefit from having access to the PV installation.
Georgia College Students to Upgrade Electric Golf Cart Fleet
This summer, three Georgia College students, along with two high school students, will use a $7,700 grant from the Office of Sustainability to increase the efficiency of solar electric powered golf carts on campus. They will also locate spots on campus where the carts can be parked to get the most solar energy.
U Nottingham Partners With Volvo on Energy Storage Research
(U.K.) The new partnership with Volvo Trucks aims to convert diesel engines due for scrap into renewable power storage units that can charge electric bus and truck fleets. The project idea is to re-task the engines to become machines that compress and expand air to store and release energy, called Compressed Air Energy Storage.
Humboldt State U & Santa Rosa Junior College to Receive $5M Each for Microgrids
The California Energy Commission recently announced that Humboldt State's Sponsored Programs Foundation will receive $5 million for a multi-customer, front-of-the-meter microgrid with renewable energy generation owned by a community choice aggregation and the microgrid circuit owned by an investor-owned utility. Santa Rosa Junior College campus will receive $5 million from the energy commission for a renewable energy microgrid demonstration project, which will meet 40 percent of the electricity needs at the campus and allow the campus to provide emergency services during power outages.
Kalamazoo College Environmental Center to Receive $250K Grant
A $250,000 grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations to the college's Center for Environmental Stewardship will be used to increase sustainability and environmental stewardship across its curriculum, expand the college’s capacity for responsible resource management and sustainable development, and increase the effectiveness of college’s arboretum as a learning lab for the campus and community.
Indiana U Partners With City on Bike-Share Program
The city of Bloomington and the university have partnered to launch a dockless bike sharing service, operated by company Zagster, which aims to give residents, students and visitors an affordable and sustainable on-demand transportation option. With an initial base of 150 bicycles, the program will offer rides at $1 per half-hour, with monthly subscriptions available for unlimited 60-minute trips.
Stetson U to Install Solar Array With Inaugural Green Fund
Launched in 2017, the university's student green fee will be used to fund a solar array, planned for connection in August 2018. Aside from the $30,000 raised through the 2017-2018 green fund, the Student Government Association and the university each has agreed to match that amount. Avoided costs have been estimated at $17,000 annually.
61 Catholic Universities Sign 'Catholic Climate Declaration'
The declaration affirms the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement by renewing Catholic support for continuing U.S. actions to address climate change. In addition to the 61 higher education signers, 37 dioceses, close to 200 religious communities, and more than 100 parishes and more than a dozen Catholic health care organizations signed on. The signing announcement coincided with the third anniversary of Laudato Sí, Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment and human ecology.
U Brighton Begins Using Liquid Air to Store Energy
(U.K.) Called Liquid Air Energy Storage, the technology works by storing air as a liquid in above-ground tanks and, when electricity is required, the liquid air is brought to ambient temperature where it regasifies and turns a turbine. The 5-megawatt plant is a result of a two-year partnership project to develop understanding of high grade power storage and influence design guidelines for future plants.
U Louisville Launches Institute to Study Human-Environment Interrelationship
With a $5M gift, the university will establish the Envirome Institute at the School of Medicine, dedicated to researching environmental determinants of health. Specifically the institute will study environmental factors that influence heart disease, better known as environmental cardiology. The institute will incorporate community engagement and citizen science to introduce a new approach to the study of health.
Lumina Foundation Awards Race & Social Justice Equity Grants Totaling $1.6M
In response to what it sees as an urgent need to improve the atmosphere around race on U.S. campuses, the Lumina Foundation recently announced that 19 colleges and universities will receive one-time grants—ranging from $25,000 to $50,000—totaling $625,000 from its Fund for Racial Justice and Equity. The University of Southern California's Race and Equity Center will also be supported by a $1 million grant to help improve and assess campus climate nationally.
U California San Diego Researcher Wins International Prize for Climate Science
The 2018 Tang Prize in Sustainable Development, issued by a Taiwanese foundation, has been awarded to climate scientist Veerabhadran Ramanathan of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, and former NASA climate scientist and advocate James Hansen. The two scientists will split a $1.33 million prize. Ramanathan, who joined Scripps in 1990, has pioneered research on sources of planetary greenhouse warming. In recent years, he has turned his focus to areas beyond research, engaging civic and spiritual leaders to frame climate change in social justice terms.
U Utah to Receive Up to $140M for Geothermal R&D
The U.S. Department of Energy recently announced that the University of Utah will receive up to $140 million in continued funding over the next five years for geothermal research and development at a new field laboratory called FORGE, the Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy. The new FORGE site is dedicated to research on enhanced geothermal systems, i.e., manmade geothermal reservoirs, which could be deployed in areas across the U.S. that don't have traditional geothermal resources.
Harvard U Pens Letter Opposing New EPA Rule
University President Drew Gilpin Faust wrote a letter to Scott Pruitt, the EPA’s administrator, opposing "Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science," a proposed rule that would restrict the kinds of scientific studies the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can use when it develops policies. The letter argues that the proposed rule would significantly limit the EPA's ability to consider best available science and erode public trust in the EPA's work.
McGill U Hosts Graduation Ceremony for LGBTQ Students
In an effort to support equal rights and foster an inclusive atmosphere, the university recently held its first-ever lavender graduation ceremony, which honors students from the LGBTQ community. The Human Rights Campaign has a list of 166 American universities that offer lavender graduation ceremonies for their LGBTQ students.
U Iowa to Provide Professional Clothing to Students
Launching in fall 2018, the Clothing Closet at Iowa will be a clothing bank that gives students an affordable option for buying new or used professional clothing. In addition to supporting students who are unable to afford professional clothes, it will also divert textile waste from landfills and promote reusing and recycling clothing.
Nazareth College Adjuncts Form Union
In an effort to improve their working conditions, adjuncts who taught in the 2017-2018 academic year recently voted 3-to-1 in favor of unionizing through Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
Appalachian State U Students Build Outdoor, Off-Grid Classroom
Students enrolled in the Integrative Design Experience Laboratory (IDEXlab) recently completed building a sheltered workspace located at the university’s Small Wind Research and Demonstration Site. Called the mobiLANDING, the energy-independent workspace showcases sustainable building practices and facilitates research.
Texas A&M U to Open Teaching Garden
The garden is scheduled to open in mid-June and includes 21 themed garden "rooms" for teaching and research in food production and landscape management. Future phases include outdoor venues for performing arts, films, celebrations and social events. Other planned gardens include one for children, a rose garden and a feed-the-world themed courtyard.
Knox College Art Building Earns LEED Gold
The college's Whitcomb Art Center features energy-efficient and operable windows on 40 percent of the building's walls, helping to reduce energy use as well as provide high-quality lighting for students and faculty. More than 80 percent of the construction waste was recycled. The building reused historic building materials from the college's Alumni Hall, which was recently renovated. The site features two rain gardens that channel stormwater runoff into the ground rather than the municipal sewer system. Grounds include native prairie plants designed to help reduce unwanted plants from growing.
Four Institutions Collaborate on Social Infrastructure Development
Founding partners of the new B.C Collaborative for Social Infrastructure are Simon Fraser University, the British Columbia Institute of Technology, the University of Northern British Columbia and Vancouver Island University. The collaboration will focus on sustainable campus and community building, indigenous entrepreneurship and social finance, social procurement, and library outreach and community scholar programs. The four institutions will share practices and policies to encourage progress and to determine how initiatives can be scaled-up and enhanced. The institutions plan to create a community of practice that can be shared with other post-secondary institutions across Canada.
Northwestern U Partners With WWF
The university and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) outlining joint collaborative strategies for advancing sustainability solutions and research areas including: sustainable materials, green infrastructure planning, water science and flood management, plastic waste solutions, climate change impact and adaptation analysis, environmental communications, and training for policymakers, advocates and students.
Thompson Rivers U Launches E-Bike Program
The university is rolling out an electronic bike option as an alternative to cycling on its hilly terrain. Employees who choose to purchase an e-bike through the university will receive a discounted rate with the option to pay it back through a payroll deduction.
Bucknell U Residential Buildings Earn LEED Silver
Part of a residential area on campus, two new LEED certified buildings feature room occupancy sensors and low-flow water fixtures. Covered bike racks are available to students, and landscaping around them includes native plant species. Sustainability is also incorporated into student life through frequent sustainability-related educational programming.
U Queensland to Construct 64 MW Photovoltaic Array
(Australia) The 64-megawatt, $125 million solar farm will offset the university's annual electricity needs when its completed in 2020. It will provide research, teaching and engagement opportunities in addition to its environmental and financial benefits. The university will take ownership of the project from renewable energy developer once construction starts, and will own and operate the plant over its expected life.
Stellenbosch U Introduces Diploma in Sustainable Development
(South Africa) Introduced in January this year, this first-ever undergraduate program in Sustainable Development at the university is offered by the School of Public Leadership in collaboration with its Sustainability Institute. The workplace-based diploma aims to give students an opportunity to work on sustainability challenges, gaining skills and experiences perhaps not otherwise available to them.
U Pittsburgh Hires First Sustainability Director
As part of the university’s newly formalized sustainability plan, Aurora Sharrard will leave her post as executive director of the Green Building Alliance on July 1 to become the university’s first-ever director of Sustainability. Among the projects she helped to develop and oversee while at the Green Building Alliance were the Pittsburgh Climate Initiative, a coalition between local government, residents, higher education institutions and businesses to address the city’s climate change goals.
Moraine Valley CC Welcomes Bees to Campus
Partnering with a local beekeeper to install an apiary in its Nature Study Area on campus, the university hopes the new bee hives will enhance their land conservation and restoration efforts and provide new living lab opportunities for different faculty groups on campus.
U Virginia Hosts Event Series On Waste Minimization in Labs
This spring, the university’s Green Labs program launched a three part event series focusing on reducing, reusing and recycling in research-intensive spaces. Part one was a webinar on lab minimalism that covered the benefits of environmentally preferred purchasing and sharing lab equipment. Part two was a swap that allowed labs to donate and claim unused and surplus material. Lastly, the university is piloting a lab recycling program focused on diverting lab plastics.