AASHE Staff Blog about the Smart & Sustainable Campuses Conf.
The 2008 Smart and Sustainable Campuses Conference was held last week at the University of Maryland. AASHE staff members were on hand to blog about the majority of the sessions. Topics include campus sustainability rating systems, why your campus needs an office of sustainability, channeling student power, vision planning for campus sustainability and more. The Chronicle of Higher Ed and the National Wildlife Federation also blogged about the conference.
Arizona State U Implements Green Purchasing Policy
Arizona State University recently implemented a green purchasing policy which states that all companies that want to do business with ASU must pass a stringent test of their environmental practices. Vendors who wish to sell products to ASU first must fill out an 11-point “Green Profile Questionnaire,” which includes such questions as, “What policies are in place to monitor and manage your supply chain regarding environmental issues?”, “Does your company have a Green Transportation Plan?” and “Has your company ever been cited for non-compliance of an environmental or safety issue?” The policy also requires that all bidders, proposers and contracts use recycled paper and double-sided copying for all documents they create in doing business with ASU. Additionally, all packaging materials have to meet at least one, but preferably all, of the following criteria: made from recycled materials, be recyclable or reusable, be non-toxic or biodegradable. ASU also has committed to buying only wood materials that have Forest Stewardship Council certification, or are previously used products (or bamboo products such as bamboo mop handles); to re-use every scrap of stone and brick possible; and to buy carpet only from distributors who have an ASU-approved carpet recycling plan.
Bowdoin College to Purchase Local Renewable Energy Credits
Bowdoin College (ME) recently announced that UPC Wind will provide the College with renewable energy certificates from its Mars Hill wind project in northern Maine. Bowdoin is currently offsetting approximately 70 percent of its campus electricity use with voluntary renewable energy certificates produced in Maine. These voluntary REC purchases complement the green power already provided pursuant to Maine's Renewable Portfolio Standard law. So far in 2008, 31 percent of Bowdoin's electricity comes from qualifying renewable sources, bringing Bowdoin's total to 100 percent green electricity. Bowdoin is focusing on switching to lower carbon fuels and increased energy efficiency, but plans to purchase RECs in the mean time.
Burlington College Joins Energy Efficiency Project
Burlington College (VT) recently joined an energy-efficiency project composed of the Association of Vermont Independent Colleges. The goals of the Burlington College part of the project are to retrofit existing older buildings on campus to significantly improve energy efficiency, and to carry out a site analysis and design of a new LEED-certified building. The college also plans to replace its four boilers with two Energy Star-rated boilers, three 50-gallon hot water tanks with a 200-gallon gas hot water tank, 104 fluorescent light fixtures with more energy-efficient models, and 70 of the 102 windows on campus buildings. The school said it will also carry out an architectural study on constructing a LEED-certified, climate-specific and site-specific building using energy-efficient construction materials. The study will explore incorporating passive solar and wind energy, as well as natural day-lighting.
Campuses Participate in Fossil Fools Day
Campuses from the U.S. and Canada participated in Fossil Fools Day events on April 1. Fossil Fools Day, organized by the Energy Action Coalition, brings together thousands of young people from around the world for a global day of action demonstrating the youth commitment to stop climate change. The University of Kentucky, Wilfrid Laurier University (ON), Clark University (MA), and others participated in the day of action through events such as raising a mock wind turbine on top of a pile of coal, blockading a Shell Gas Station, and hosting a wind turbine versus coal plant boxing match.
Colorado State U Hires VP for Energy & the Environment
Colorado State University Research Foundation has hired Ron Sega as the Vice President for Energy, Environment, and Applied Research. Sega will also serve as CSU President Larry Edward Penley's special advisor on energy and the environment and the chairman of the advisory committee on Sustainability and the Environment.
CSU President Calls for Increased Sustainability Research
Colorado State University President Larry Edward Penley recently published an article in Inside Higher Ed that discusses the leadership role higher education institutions need to take in advancing sustainability research and solutions. He argues that research universities have an obligation and an opportunity to use their resources to educate green collar workers and create ground-breaking climate change solutions. Penley believes that universities should focus less on installing greener goods and creating climate change awareness, and focus more on preparing students for the up and coming green economy, advancing green research, and inputting new technologies into the free market. Once this research enters the marketplace, he says, it can create jobs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve health and living conditions worldwide, and stimulate the economy.
Johns Hopkins U Approves Funding for Green Initiatives
Johns Hopkins University (MD) recently approved the Sustainable Hopkins Infrastructure Program, a program created to provide a way for students, faculty, and staff to secure funding for green projects on campus. JHU plans to form a committee of campus members that will review project proposals based on compliance to certain criteria, which have yet to be finalized. Once a project is approved, it will be handed off to the Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration where funds will be allocated. SHIP is not a revolving loan fund, and the money does not come from a predetermined fund; instead, money will be taken from excess funds, which will be determined on a case by case basis.
Loyalist College Starts Recycling Program
Loyalist College (ON) recently launched a recycling program. As an incentive, on the opening day of the program, environmentally-friendly prizes were given to students who recycled or chose to do something green for the day.
Oberlin College Announces New Financial Aid Initiative
Oberlin College (OH) recently announced the Oberlin Access Initiative, which promises to eliminate the annual loan requirements for those members of the incoming class of 2012 who are eligible to receive federally funded Pell Grants. In addition, the new policy will extend to all current, Pell-eligible students returning to Oberlin next fall.
Ohio State U Adopts New Recycled Paper Policy
Ohio State University recently adopted a new policy that increases the use of recycled content paper on campus. The new policy aims to ensure that copy paper used on campus contains at least 30 percent recycled materials. Officials say that the new initiative will help the university protect more than 8,000 trees and save enough energy to power 62 homes.
San Diego State U Students Vote for Green Fee
San Diego State University (CA) Students recently voted to increase the current mandatory Student Body Association Fee to fund, among other initiatives, new green program and facility upgrades. 64.6 percent of students voted for a $20 increase per semester. 8.66 percent of the total student body voted.
U British Columbia Building Received LEED Gold
The National Research Council Institute for Fuel Cell Innovation, located on the campus of the University of British Columbia, has been awarded LEED Gold certification. The building features a ground source heat pump to provide natural-source heating and cooling, a 5KW solid oxide fuel cell system powered by natural gas and a photovoltaic array to capture energy from sunlight. UBC officials anticipate a 34 percent energy usage savings, which amounts to an annual reduction of 184 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. The centre also promotes alternative transportation options through easy access to public transportation, bicycle storage stalls, and shower facilities. There is also a hydrogen refueling station and parking spaces for car or van-pools.
U Buffalo Dining Begins Local Food Program
University at Buffalo (NY) Campus Dining and Shops recently began the new Local Food Program, which aims to bring more locally produced food products on campus. The new program will offer local produce, syrups, sauces, cheese, honey, meats, pasta and baked goods, and is a result of a partnership with Pride of New York.
U Utah Offers Organic, Fair Trade Coffee
The University of Utah recently began offering organic, fair trade coffee in the student union food court. Customers will have to pay 10 to 15 cents extra for the new coffee. The rest of the campus still offers non-organic, non-fair-trade coffee, but will consider making the switch after receiving student input.
Clinton Global Initiative U Receives $500,000 Grant from Wal-Mart
The Clinton Global Initiative University program recently received a $500,000 grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation. Through a selection process by CGI U, the grant will be awarded to students or universities whose commitments integrate principles of sustainability. A total of $350,000 will go to two universities, and the remaining $150,000 will be granted to thirty-five students and student groups. The awards will be made in August 2008 to students and universities who have made demonstrable progress on their commitments.
Eastern Mennonite U Plots Campus Garden
Eastern Mennonite University (VA) recently broke ground for a campus garden. Students have already begun tilling and fertilizing the soil and hope that the garden will soon provide part of the produce for the campus. This summer, the garden will function as a pilot project, but students plan to expand the plot in the future.
Harvard Law School Launches New Public Service Initiative
Harvard University (MA) Law School recently announced that it will pay the third year of tuition for all future students who commit to work for a nonprofit organization or the government for five years following graduation. Students interested in participating in the initiative must demonstrate a commitment to public service during their time in law school. Students will earn eligibility credits by engaging in public service activities such as summer internships and relevant clinical programs, and once the student makes the commitment, they will receive a grant totaling the cost of their third year tuition. The program is scheduled to start this fall for incoming students; currently enrolled students will receive partial benefit. Officials say that the Harvard Public Service Initiative is the first of its kind in legal education.
Harvard Med., Claremont McKenna & Lafayette Expand Financial Aid
Harvard University (MA) Medical School recently announced that it will reduce the cost of a four year medical education by up to $50,000 for families with incomes of $120,000 or less. The new plan will eliminate before-tax retirement savings from the family income calculation. Likewise, Claremont McKenna College (CA) has announced that it will eliminate student loans from financial aid packages for all current and entering students effective fall 2008. The student loans will be replaced by grants. Lafayette College (PA) also recently announced that, starting in the fall of 2008, it will eliminate loans in need-based financial aid packages awarded to students from families with incomes of $50,000 or less and whose financial assets are typical of families with this annual income level. Beginning in the fall of 2009, Lafayette will limit loans to $2,500 per year for need-based financial-aid packages awarded to students from families whose incomes are between $50,000 and $100,000 and whose financial assets are typical of families with this annual income level. The new policy will apply to both new and returning Lafayette students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
Humboldt State U to Install 2 Solar Projects
Humboldt State University’s (CA) student-initiated Humboldt Energy Independence Fund Committee has granted $100,000 for two pilot projects: a photovoltaic system for the roof of the Old Music Building and new equipment to complete a Solar Radiation Monitoring Station. The photovoltaic system was awarded $95,000 and will include two student contests in the fall to create an art display and interpretive signage explaining the installation’s benefits. The second project was awarded $5,000 toward completion of the SoRMS. Students have been working with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to create a database for the solar radiation energy of California’s North Coast. Data collected by the project will be useful for determining solar array sizes, battery storage requirements and carbon dioxide emission offsets. The information will be accessible to anyone via the laboratory’s website. Both projects are scheduled to be completed by the end of the fall 2008 semester. The fund is financed by a self-imposed fee of $10 per student per semester.
Indiana U Increases Wages for Union Workers
The Indiana University Board of Trustees recently voted to increase union employee pay by 3.5 percent starting in the fall of 2008 as an effort to pay these workers a living wage. Employees who fall under a collective bargaining agreement will likely get a 3.5 percent increase, but the unions have a right to negotiate how that pool increase is distributed.
Louisiana State U Converts Local Cooking Oil to Biodiesel
Louisiana State University recently started converting its cafeteria cooking oil into biodiesel. The campus will use cooking oil from an on-campus dining facility to make 50-gallon batches of biodiesel two times per week. The product will be used in tractors, heavy equipment, compost grinders, and trucks at one of the LSU AgCenter's Central Research Station. LSU plans to organize community workshops for those who want to learn how to make biodiesel using the same process.
San Diego State U Launches Green Building Construction Online Certif.
San Diego State University's (CA) College of Extended Studies recently announced a new online certificate program for Green Building Construction that will enable experienced, new, and potential construction industry personnel to learn about green, sustainable construction and design. Students who enroll in SDSU’s Professional Certificate in Green Building Construction online program will learn about environmentally sustainable construction management, learn how to combine environmental concerns with career knowledge, and expand their existing knowledge base to assist in preparation for the USGBC LEED accreditation exam. The program has been created for design professionals, contractors, sub-contractors, builders, planners, commissioners, facilities managers and stakeholders, and environmental engineers. The program begins in early April.
St. Ambrose U To Launch Campus-wide Recycling Program
St. Ambrose University (IA) recently announced its plans to launch a campus-wide recycling program in the fall of 2008. The initiative was made possible by $20,000 from the University and a $32,000 grant from the Scott County Regional Authority. The money will be used to purchase recycling bins and a baler for waste generated by dining services.
St. Louis CC Building Awarded LEED Gold
The St. Louis Community College (MO) Wildwood campus building was recently awarded LEED Gold certification. The 75,000 square foot facility features T-shaped windows that allow for more natural light, parking lot plug-ins for electric cars, an east-west solar orientation to fully capitalize on sunlight for heating, cooling, and natural light, a one-quarter-acre retention pond landscape with trees, bushes, and native prairie grass, and four cisterns that can capture up to 80,000 gallons of rainwater to be used for irrigation, waterless urinals, and drought-resistant landscaping. Officials say that STLCC's Wildwood campus is the largest community college facility in the U.S. to receive LEED Gold certification.
Texas Christian U Partners to Research Wind Power
Texas Christian University, the University of Oxford, and FPL Energy, LLC recently announced the formation of a partnership and research initiative to better understand the ecological and socio-economic impacts of wind power development. The five-year research effort includes three primary focus areas, including wind turbine impact on birds and bats, wind turbine ecological impacts, and socio-economic impacts of wind projects. The research will be coordinated by TCU’s Institute for Environmental Studies and Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute and will be funded by FPL Energy. All of the field research necessary for the project will be conducted at FPL Energy’s wind farm locations across the U.S.
Turtle Mountain CC Installs Wind Turbine
Turtle Mountain Community College (ND) has begun the installation of a 600 kilowatt on-campus wind turbine. When the wind turbine runs at full capacity, it will provide 90 percent of TMCC's electricity usage. The turbine is scheduled to be complete and on the grid by late April 2008.
UC Berkeley Receives Undeveloped Land Donation
The University of California, Berkeley recently received an anonymous donation of the Blue Oak Ranch Reserve, a 3,260-acre property east of San Jose. The property is one of California's most diverse ecosystems, is embedded within 180,000 acres of permanently protected wild lands and open space in the Mount Hamilton Range, and is protected by a conservation easement held by the Nature Conservancy. The new reserve will support research to discover why oak trees are failing to thrive or regenerate. Additionally, UC Berkeley plans to design an ecologically sustainable field station on the site which will include dormitories, classrooms, laboratories, and offices with solar photovoltaic modules, passive solar systems, and sustainable water management systems designed by UC Berkeley environmental design and engineering faculty and students.
U Florida Annual Report Features Sustainability
The University of Florida recently published its Annual Report. In addition to the audited financial statements for the University, this year's report incorporates UF's progress towards becoming a more sustainable university.
U Manitoba to Refurbish Historic Buildings
The University of Manitoba recently announced that 13 facilities and departments will be refurbished instead of building a new campus. Project Domino, starting this summer, will restore several historic buildings over a five-year period and plans to build only one new building, the Centre for Music, Art and Design.
Utah State U Donates Land for Organic Farm
Utah State University recently donated a 5-acre plot of its research land to be used for an on-campus organic farm. Students will help to prepare the field, and will also help make decisions on rotation rates and plots. Faculty coordinators of the project hope that the produce will be sold in an on-campus student famers market. The coordinators plan for the farm to become a self-sustaining project that will eventually make enough money to allow for a full-credit intern, research projects, and thesis projects.
Wilfrid Laurier U Switches to Cage-free Eggs
Wilfrid Laurier University (ON) Food Services recently switched to cage-free eggs. These cage-free eggs will be used for the 20 percent of foods that use whole shelled eggs at the University. WLU is hoping to make the change for liquid eggs as well.
Willamette U Housing to be Gender Neutral
Willamette University (OR) recently announced that, starting in the fall of 2008, it will offer gender neutral housing that will allow men and women to room together. The initiative is designed to meet the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered students who may not be comfortable sharing a room with someone of the same sex. Participation will be voluntary and students outside of the LGBT community will be permitted to participate. Parents will not be informed when a student chooses to live in gender neutral housing. The pilot program is not intended for romantically involved straight or gay couples; the University retains the right to deny requests from couples.
2 Universities Receive 2008 National Transit Award
The Federal Transit Administration recently awarded 10 U.S. transit systems with the Success in Enhancing Ridership Award. Among the winners were the University of New Hampshire-Wildcat Transit and city of Macomb-Go West Transit, which is a partnership between Western Illinois University and the City of Macomb. The awards recognized transit providers who tried fresh approaches to boost their ridership between the years of 2005 and 2006. The two-year period allowed enough time to implement the new strategies and then measure the results. In addition to netting more passengers, the new techniques also had the potential to be successfully implemented by other transit systems. Wildcat Transit was cited for using better traveler information, nicer bus shelters with solar power lighting, and new biodiesel transit buses, which helped increase ridership by 21 percent. Macomb-Go West Transit was recognized for increasing their ridership by 22 percent by revising their fare structure, advertising, and partnering with Western Illinois University.
British Columbia University Presidents Sign Climate Action Statement
University presidents from across British Columbia have signed a Climate Change Statement of Action committing their institutions to a leadership role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The statement of action commits each university to initiate a comprehensive plan to reduce greenhouse gases by creating a planning body that includes students, staff, researchers, administrators and other partners. Within one year, each institution will have a complete inventory of greenhouse gas emissions on campus and within two years, targets will be set and strategies will be put in place to achieve the targets. All action plans, inventories, and progress reports will be made publicly available. BC’s university presidents will be inviting other post secondary institutions across British Columbia and Canada to join them in signing the Statement of Action.
Cabrini College Offers Fair Trade Bananas
Cabrini College (PA) recently began offering fair trade bananas. The initiative started as an idea from the Catholic Relief Services Ambassadors on campus. A fair trade banana-split party was held to celebrate the success of the initiative.
Carleton College Announces New Access Scholarship Program
Carleton College (MN) recently announced its new Access Scholarship program aimed at reducing or eliminating student loans for students from a family with an annual income of $75,000 or less, starting with the 2008-09 school year. The plan calls for a $4,000 scholarship for students from families making less than $40,000 annually, a $3,000 scholarship for students from families with annual incomes of $40,001-$60,000, and a $2,000 scholarship for students from families with yearly incomes of $60,001-$75,000.
Central Carolina CC Hires Green Building Program Coordinator
Central Carolina Community College (SC) recently hired Laura Lauffer as the College's first Green Building Program Coordinator. Lauffer has been brought on board to recruit highly qualified instructors, expand course offerings and apprenticeships for those who want careers in green construction and renewable energy, promote job creation, and increase the number of seminars on green building offered for consumers and homeowners.
Clinton Global Initiative U Holds Inaugural Meeting
The Clinton Global Initiative University, which works as part of the Clinton Global Initiative to mobilize college students and universities to address issues with practical and innovative solutions, recently held its first meeting at Tulane University (LA). Nearly 700 college students gathered on the campus of Tulane University, traveling from more than 250 colleges and universities and representing almost each state and every continent except Antarctica. While there, 600 students cleaned and prepared more than 10 blocks of the Lower 9th Ward that will welcome the first returning residents to the New Orleans area. The cleaning was part of Brad Pitt's Make it Right Project, which will construct 150 sustainable and affordable homes in the Lower 9th Ward.
Columbia U Expands Financial Aid
Columbia University (NY) recently announced that students from families with incomes below $60,000 attending Columbia College and The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science will no longer be expected to borrow or contribute any of their income or assets to tuition, room, board and other fees beginning in fall 2008. At the same time, Columbia will eliminate loans for all new and continuing students in the College and SEAS who are eligible for financial aid, regardless of family income, and replace them with University grants. Additionally, all aid recipients will be invited to apply for exemptions from summer and academic-year work expectations when they engage in community service or accept unpaid research or internship commitments.
Culinary Institute of America Eliminates Paper Cups
The Culinary Institute of America (NY) has removed paper cups and lids in all of its student and staff dining facilities. The college had been using between 15,000 and 18,000 disposable cups a week in its student dining facilities alone. The CIA is encouraging students, faculty, and staff to use travel mugs or to-go bottles on campus.
Drew U to Offer Environmental Studies and Sustainability Major
Drew University (NJ) recently received a $950,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to create an innovative academic major in Environmental Studies and Sustainability. The grant money will support two additional faculty members, new interdisciplinary courses, and a program of student internships and research experiences. Drew faculty members are working now to design the new major, which will incorporate internship experiences and coursework that is interdisciplinary and project-oriented. If approved by the College of Liberal Arts faculty this spring, it will be made available to students in the fall of 2008.
Eastern Illinois U to Purchase Electric Vehicles
Eastern Illinois University plans to replace about six of its gas-powered minivans with small electric vehicles. These electric vehicles can be recharged within one hour and can travel up to 30-40 miles at a time. The University has already purchased one six-seat electric vehicle for the campus.
Funding Cut for U New Mexico Sustainability Studies Program
Last year, the University of New Mexico Sustainability Studies program received a $207,000 grant from the state Legislature; this year, the University offered Sustainability Studies $15,000, an amount that will not be enough to sustain the program. The College of Arts and Sciences is currently looking for alternative funding. Approximately 80 students have enrolled in Sustainability Studies at UNM.
Indiana U Holds Web-enabled Energy & Water Conservation Competition
Indiana University recently began its first ever "IU Energy Challenge," a dormitory energy and water conservation competition. The four-week competition will encourage students living in 10 IU Bloomington dormitories to compete to reduce their energy and water consumption against a baseline of their dorm's average per capita electricity and water consumption over the past three years. The competition features a website where students can view their current energy and water usage and standings. The dormit
Lehigh U Enhances Financial Aid
Lehigh University (PA) recently announced its new plan to increase financial aid. As long as students are eligible for financial aid, the University plans to eliminate loans for students whose family’s calculated annual income is less than $50,000 and plans to limit loans to a maximum of $3,000 per year for students whose family’s calculated annual income is between $50,000 and $75,000. Additionally, work-study awards for students who are included in the loan elimination and reduction initiatives will be increased by 25 percent to $2,200 per year, thus offsetting the need for loans. Additional funds are also being made available to enroll a larger number of eligible, international students with demonstrated financial need.
Medical U of South Carolina Installs Geothermal System
The Medical University of South Carolina recently installed a geothermal system into the Anderson House, a campus administration building that houses the South Carolina College of Pharmacy's administration. The building is the first on campus to utilize a closed loop geothermal heat pump.
MIT Announces New Financial Aid Program
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently announced its financial aid program for the 2008-2009 academic year. Under the new plan, families earning less than $75,000 per year will have all tuition covered and will not be expected to take out loans to cover expenses beyond tuition. MIT will also no longer consider home equity for families with total annual income below $100,000 and typical assets. In addition to the financial aid plan, the Institute will also reduce the work-study expectation for all financial aid recipients by 10 percent.
Southwestern College, Winfield Creates Student Green Team
Southwestern College, Winfield (KS) is recruiting students for the Green Team, a four-year environmental program that will start in the fall of 2008. The eight or nine students selected will be eligible for up to $3,200 worth of scholarship funds. The Green Team's main responsibility will be to come up with innovative ideas on how to bring renewable energies to campus and to help reduce the campus carbon footprint. Green Team members will be permitted to major in any academic department, but will be required to take environmental and leadership courses. They will also work on projects that take place on campus and in the city of Winfield.