Wesleyan U to Divest From Fossil Fuels
The university recently announced its decision to not make any new investments in fossil fuels and to reduce current investments as quickly as possible. It expects to be fully divested from direct fossil fuel investments by the end of the decade.
Brown U Divests From Fossil Fuels
The university's president recently announced that 90 percent of Brown's investments in companies that extract fossil fuels have been sold, and the remainder (less than 1 percent of the portfolio) is being liquidated as it becomes possible to do so. The Investment Office has made no new investments in this area.
Arizona State U to Plant Carbon Sink & Learning Forest
The university will plant 1,000 desert trees on what is currently an empty plot of land to help meet its goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2025. The forest will be used as a way of sequestering carbon and will be open for university researchers and classes.
U California Los Angeles to Phase Out Single-Use Plastics
The draft single-use plastics policy, announced in late January, is scheduled to begin in July of this year by officially phasing out plastic utensils, cup lids, bowls, and plastic bags and similar food accessory items. Locally compostable or reusable alternatives would be provided only on request, and would shift over time to only reusable alternatives for all dine-in eaters.
I2SL Announces 'Go Beyond' Award Winners
The International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL) announced at the end of 2019 the winners of the Go Beyond award, which recognizes excellence in sustainability in laboratory and other high-technology facility projects by going beyond the facility itself to consider shared resources and neighboring communities, as well as contributing to increased use of energy-efficient and environmentally-sustainable designs, systems and products. The winners project winners are Bowie State University, King Abdullah University of Science & Technology, and MIT.
Indiana U Releases Resilience Toolkit
The new Environmental Resilience Institute Toolkit (ERIT) is an interactive resource to help local governments in the Midwest and beyond effectively deliver services to their communities even as the climate changes. Decision-makers can create an integrated package of information tailored specifically to their community and their needs.
Western Kentucky U Building Earns WELL Gold Certification
The university's science facility, Ogden Hall, received the Gold certification from the International WELL Building Institute. WELL is a performance-based rating system for measuring, certifying, and monitoring features of our buildings that impact human health and wellness, through air, water, nourishment, light, movement, thermal comfort, sound, materials, and mind and community.
Project to Enhance Sustainability Teaching With the Ecological Footprint Launched
(Greece) Aristotle U Thessaloniki and several partners have launched EUSTEPs (Enhancing Universities’ Sustainability Teaching and Practices), to promote the use of the ecological footprint concept to educate about the complexity of sustainability and its interdisciplinary nature in an engaging and captivating manner. The effort aims to develop an interactive online platform for learning about ecological footprint as well as a university footprint calculator. Other organizations involved in the initiative are the University of Aveiro and Universidade Aberta (Portugal), the University of Siena (Italy), and the Global Footprint Network.
U Pittsburgh Commits to Carbon Neutrality by 2037
The university recently selected its 250th anniversary in 2037 as the target date for carbon neutrality. Pitt’s progress toward carbon neutrality will be shared via a newly created online sustainability dashboard updated by the university’s Office of Sustainability.
Four Pennsylvania HEIs Partner on Renewable Energy Purchase
Lehigh University and Dickinson, Lafayette, and Muhlenberg Colleges recently signed a 15-year power purchase agreement for the production by a 45.9-megawatt share of a new 200-acre solar farm located in Texas. The partnership will enable all four institutions to mitigate 100 percent of their carbon emissions associated with electricity use.
U Pittsburgh Bradford Residence Hall Earns LEED Silver
The university's newly certified Alexander House features renewable energy, high-efficiency HVAC systems, water-efficient plumbing fixtures and low-VOC furnishings. The building has bike storage for students and parking places for electric vehicles.
Emerson College Eco Ambassadors Launch Thrift Store Pop Up
In an effort to raise awareness for the college's clothing exchange store, now the Tiny Thrift Store puts on a pop-up once per month. The store and pop-up give students a chance to donate, exchange and/or pick-up clothing free of charge.
Southern Illinois U Carbondale Signs Climate Commitment
In mid-February, the university's president signed Second Nature's Climate Commitment. Becoming a signatory means that the university will develop a campus plan that reduces greenhouse gases, create energy efficiencies and/or deploy alternative energy sources or other strategies that reduce its carbon footprint.
Vanderbilt U Campus Dining Earns Allergen-Free Certification
Boasting the designation "Certified Free From", all commercial on-campus kitchens are free from tree nuts and peanuts. In addition, Rand Dining Center’s 2301 platform is also certified free from the top eight allergens–milk, egg, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans. Certified Free From is a certification from Kitchens with Confidence, an external accreditation/certification business.
Columbia U Event Management Offers Food Menu With Reduced GHGs
Columbia Event Management now offers a menu of food items with lower greenhouse gas emissions than the traditional menu. Students from the sustainability management program capstone project found the new, mostly plant-based menu to be 63 percent less carbon-emitting than other menus. Columbia departments have the option to choose the "Sustainable Living" menu for their events at comparable prices to other menu options.
Carnegie Foundation Announces Community Engagement Classification Recipients
119 U.S. colleges and universities received the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification, an elective designation that indicates institutional commitment to community engagement by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Of the 119 institutions classified in the 2020 cycle, 44 are receiving the classification for the first time while 75 are now re-classified, after being classified originally in 2010 or 2015. A total of 359 campuses are currently active holders of this designation.
U Miami Launches Urban Sustainability & Resilience Degree
This fall the university will launch the Master of Professional Science in Urban Sustainability and Resilience through its College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Architecture. Students can choose from one of two tracks: urban sustainability or urban resilience.
U Southern California Offers Free Tuition Based on Family Income
Students from the United States from families with annual incomes of $80,000 or less will be eligible for the full undergraduate tuition waiver starting in the fall. Additionally, owning a home will no longer be considered in the calculation used to determine a student’s financial need.
Brandeis U Launches Plastic Waste Reduction Initiative
The university's Office of Sustainability has partnered with Sodexo to reduce plastic waste from bags, straws and bottled water. Several retail locations are introducing paper bags in lieu of plastic and making straws available by request only. Additionally, water bottle refill stations are being installed near retail locations that are removing bottled water options.
U Pittsburgh Renovation Receives LEED Silver
Clapp Hall, the building that houses the department of biological sciences, features energy-efficient lighting, water-saving plumbing fixtures, a demand-control ventilation system and a lab exhaust energy-recovery system. More than 95 percent of construction waste was diverted from landfills, 90 percent of existing building elements were reused, and 36 percent of building materials were regionally manufactured. Clapp Hall also has bike storage and changing rooms for commuters.
U Albany Receives $2M for Carbon Neutrality Planning
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority recently approved a $2 million grant for the university to research and implement solutions for the statewide 2050 net zero carbon emissions goal.
Bowie State U Opens Nutrition Lounge & Food Pantry
In partnership with Food Lion Feeds' hunger relief initiative, the university opened a new on-campus nutrition lounge that provides a place for students to relax, study and have a place to access and enjoy free, healthy foods.
Pennsylvania State U Launches AI for Social Good Research Center
A new, multi-unit research center launched this spring aims to promote the thoughtful development and application of artificial intelligence (AI) and study its impact on all areas of human endeavor. The Penn State Center for Socially Responsible Artificial Intelligence will encourage that all AI research and development activities consider social and ethical implications as well as intended and possible unintended consequences.
Cornell U Building Earns LEED Gold
Cornell’s Mui Ho Fine Arts Library building now has energy-efficient windows, and an insulated roof with a reflective lining that improves the building's thermal performance.
Michigan State U to Install 20 MW Solar Array
The university's board of trustees recently approved a 20-megawatt solar-electric array that will span nearly 145 acres. The project is expected to cost about $2.3 million and will be funded with university utility reserve funds. It is estimated that the array will begin producing power by the end of 2022 and save the university at least $27 million in the next 25 years.
Illinois State U Elevates Diversity & Inclusion
The university's president recently announced the creation of a new position to move diversity initiatives forward on campus, naming Professor Doris Houston as the interim assistant to the president for diversity and inclusion. Houston currently serves as chair of the President’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council.
Imperial College Partners on Climate Change Risk Management Projects
(U.K.) The Center for Climate Finance and Investment at Imperial College Business School is working with international banking group Standard Chartered to help translate academic science into effective solutions for businesses in order to mitigate financial risks presented by climate change.
Yale U Receives $15M for Living Building Community
The university's Divinity School recently accepted a $15 million contribution in support of the Living Village, a 155-unit community that will consist of buildings that are constructed to meet the requirements of the Living Building Challenge. All building energy will come from the sun and all water from on-site precipitation. Waste will be processed on-site.
Northland College Finalizes Fossil Fuel Divestment
In 2017, the college's board of trustees voted to divest all investments in the fossil fuel industry within five years, but did so in less than three. The college now no longer has fossil fuel-related investments.
Thirteen Institutions Become 'Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Campus Centers'
The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) selected 13 institutions as Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Campus Centers. Organized around the five pillars of the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation framework by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation—narrative change, separation, law, economy, and racial healing and relationship building—the centers seek to prepare the next generation of leaders to confront racism and to dismantle the belief in a hierarchy of human value.
EPA Releases Top 30 List of Green Power Users
The U.S. 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 3.5 billion kilowatt-hours of green power annually.
U Maine Receives Grant to Recycle Greenhouse Plastic
The university's Cooperative Extension has been awarded $38,764 by a State of Maine Department of Environmental Protection Waste Diversion Grant to develop a statewide pilot program to recycle agricultural greenhouse plastic. The program’s goal is to collect at least one-third of Maine’s annual waste greenhouse plastic, and partner with an end-user who can convert the collected plastic into resin feedstock used in the manufacture of new plastic products.
North Carolina State U Pilots Driverless E-Shuttle
Thanks to a partnership with the N.C. Department of Transportation, the university is conducting a six-month pilot test of an autonomous electric vehicle that can ferry 12 passengers. The vehicle completes a one-mile route in about 12 minutes and is designed to be a first- and last-mile solution for commuters and those with mobility challenges.
Stanford U Recommends Civic Engagement During Registration
As part of a broader push by the organization StanfordVotes to increase participation in the 2020 elections, a new action is required by students when they are enrolling for classes. During enrollment, there is now an embedded form through which they can register to vote and requires students to check a box saying that they “acknowledge the recommendation of civic engagement” before they can enroll in classes. It doesn't require that they register to vote and it will not store any data on whether or not they do.
ACE Produces Series on Race in Higher Ed
The Let’s Talk About Race interview series captures the voices of prominent higher education scholars and leaders as they share their perspectives and experiences on race and ethnicity in higher education.
Georgetown U Adopts Fossil Fuel Investments Policy
Under the new policy, the university will continue to make investments that target a market rate of return in renewable energy, energy efficiency and related areas while freezing new endowment investments in companies or funds whose primary business is the exploration or extraction of fossil fuels. Georgetown will also divest from public securities of fossil fuel companies within the next five years and divest from existing private investments in those companies over the next 10 years.
Rochester IT Bans Single-Use Plastics
Ahead of a state ban on plastic bags that begins March 1, the university is launching a Ditch the Disposables campaign that will eliminate plastic bags, straws and stirrers. The campaign will also encourage campus members to reduce plastic waste. There are no immediate plans to replace plastic spoons, forks and knives on campus, but alternatives are being studied.
U Southern California Hotel Achieves Green Seal Certification
The USC Hotel underwent a full year of an in-depth audit of purchasing records, practices and on-site inspections to meet Green Seal’s GS-33 lodging standard. Sustainability measures at the hotel include an elimination of single-use plastics, using shower curtains made of recycled plastic water bottles, and staff training in waste reduction, water conservation and energy savings.
Colorado State U Receives $20M for Community Resilience
The National Institute of Standards and Technology has renewed a $20 million partnership for a Colorado State University engineering center designed to improve community resilience planning for natural hazards. The funding will extend the center of work for another five years, allowing its researchers to apply the modeling system they’ve developed to actual communities.
U North Carolina Chapel Hill Introduces Recyclable Aluminum Cups
The university's Department of Athletics recently announced a partnership to bring a recyclable aluminum cup to fans at sporting events, beginning with the men’s basketball game at the beginning of February. The 20-ounce recyclable drink cups will serve soft drinks for $5 per cup at men and women’s basketball, baseball, softball, and men and women’s lacrosse games as part of a pilot program.
U Pittsburgh Launches Textile Recycling Program
The university recently launched a textile recycling program to prevent clothing that is unsuitable for donation and other worn-out textiles from going to the landfill. The new program aims to help move the campus closer to its Pitt Sustainability Plan goal of reducing landfill waste 25 percent by 2030.
Catholic U America Building Earns LEED Gold
Maloney Hall, the recently renovated home to the Busch School of Business, now includes rainwater recovery system, low-flow bathroom fixtures, and energy-efficient HVAC and lighting systems. Landscaping features such as native plants and trees were carefully chosen to not rely on permanent irrigation systems.
William & Mary Eliminates Single-Use Plastics
In addition to becoming certified by the Green Restaurant Association, Dining Services recently eliminated single-use plastics in two dining halls by changing behaviors, such as not putting straws out and using larger bulk containers made out of non-plastic material rather than offering individual jelly, butter and cream cheese servings.
William & Mary Signs Power Purchase Agreement
The recently signed 20-year power purchase agreement is for the output of a 20-megawatt photovoltaic system that is projected to generate approximately 50 percent of the university’s electricity needs. The production of solar energy at the farm will likely begin in 2021. William & Mary expects the contract will begin to save the university money after about six years.