U California Davis Gets Grant for Water-Conserving Landscapes
The University of California, Davis’ California Center for Urban Horticulture recently received a donation from TreeTown USA to help develop water-conserving landscapes through the center's SmartLandscape Initiative. By combining low water-use plants with the latest available irrigation technology, the horticultural innovation center will be an educational tool focused on measuring and monitoring water use data and reducing urban landscape water waste.
U Oxford Unveils Initiatives for Underrepresented Backgrounds
(U.K.) Two new programs that expand access to academically talented students from underrepresented groups were recently announced. Opportunity Oxford is aimed at students from more disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds, while Foundation Oxford is open to students who have personally experienced severe disadvantage or educational disruption. Both schemes are free and students’ residential and living costs will be fully funded. When fully up and running, these major new programs will offer paths to education for up to 250 state school students a year, representing 10 percent of Oxford’s U.K. undergraduate intake.
NCAR Launches Interdisciplinary Climate Change Research Program
The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is launching the Early Career Faculty Innovator Program this summer, naming nine early-career faculty members from U.S. universities to conduct interdisciplinary research into the impacts of climate change and natural hazards on U.S. coasts. Each faculty member will bring a graduate student to assist with research. Faculty were selected from Columbia University, New York University, Stanford University, Stony Brook University, University of Central Florida, University of Connecticut, University of Oregon, University of South Carolina and Virginia Tech.
Mohawk College & U British Columbia Win Awards for Sustainable Built Environments
The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada announced in mid-May the 2019 recipients of its Awards of Excellence, which reflect outstanding achievement in architecture through innovation, green building, allied arts, advocacy and journalism. Mohawk College's Joyce Center for Partnership & Innovation won the Innovation in Architecture category for its net-zero institutional building on the Fennel campus that is helping to set the standards for the Canada Green Building Council Zero Carbon Buildings Framework. The University of British Columbia's Campus Energy Center won in the Green Building category for its hot water facility that uses almost 63 percent less energy and 31 percent less water than a baseline building of its type.
Bates College Achieves Carbon Neutrality
Measured against a 2001 baseline, Bates has eliminated 95 percent of its campus greenhouse gas emissions, and will purchase carbon offsets for the remainder. In its Climate Action Plan, announced nine years ago, Bates committed to hitting this milestone by 2020.
U Buffalo Offers Sustainability Certificate
Available to all students enrolled in one of the university’s graduate programs, the Advanced Certificate in Sustainability consists of 15 graduate credit hours, addressing the complexity of environment issues from the perspective of the natural sciences, social sciences and the humanities.
Ripon College Selects Environment-Focused Commencement Theme
Since 1957, the college has selected a theme for its commencement and this year's theme was Caring for Our Environment. The theme was highlighted with 100 percent biodegradable plastic cups, utensils and napkins. Perennial plants were used in ceremony decor and then replanted on campus afterward. Caps and gowns were made from 23 recycled water bottles. Marc Edwards, a Virginia Tech professor of civil and environmental engineering that helped uncover the Flint, Mich., water crisis, was a speaker.
Yale U Eliminates Single-Use Plastic Water Bottles at Commencement
In an effort to reduce waste, the university eliminated 11,000 single-use bottles by encouraging honorees and guests to bring their own reusable bottles or use compostable cups at one of six different hydration stations. In previous years, Yale distributed more than 300 cases of individual plastic water bottles, many of which were left unopened.
U Michigan Initiates Sustainability Research Grant Program
The new Catalyst Grant program from university's Graham Sustainability Institute aims to address the challenges of safe drinking water, climate change vulnerability, sustainable livestock production, and the health and energy justice impacts of electricity generation. Led by multidisciplinary faculty teams, these new Catalyst Grant projects will lay the groundwork for ongoing collaborations and develop tools and recommendations for decisions that advance sustainability. In its inaugural year, the four projects were selected from eight proposals submitted by 21 faculty members and researchers across nine units. Each of the selected proposals will receive $10,000 to support collaborative research activities.
U California San Diego Launches Pilot Student Loan Debt Program
The university's Extension office and the San Diego Workforce Partnership have joined forces for a new initiative, called the Workforce Income Share Agreement Fund, aimed at removing financial barriers to higher education for unemployed and underemployed individuals. Participants have access to certificate-granting courses at the University Extension. Once students complete their certificate and secure a job with an annual salary of at least $40,000, they pay a set percentage of their income over a set period of time.
Cornell U to Offset New Buildings Electricity With Solar
The university aims to offset about 35 percent of the electricity of proposed new residential buildings using photovoltaics. The proposed residential expansion project, which will allow all first-year and sophomore students to be housed on campus or in affiliated housing, was designed in alignment with the university's Climate Action Plan.
Monash U Opens Sustainable Residential Building
(Australia) A new 150-bed residential accommodation complex includes rooftop solar panels, a rainwater harvesting tank, and a landscaped dry creek bed to manage stormwater during high-rain events. In addition to electricity supplied by its rooftop solar, some electricity will come wind energy through the university's power purchase agreement in a wind farm. The complex will be powered solely using renewable energy.
U Dayton to Launch Bachelor Degrees in Sustainability
The board of trustees recently approved Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in sustainability, which students can start in August 2019. Housed in the College of Arts and Sciences, the Bachelor of Science degree will have tracks in energy and sustainable watersheds. The Bachelor of Arts degree will have tracks in food studies and urban sustainability.
U Colorado Boulder Athletics Signs Sports Climate Action Framework
The university's new commitment to the U.N. Sports for Climate Action Framework aims to reduce emissions in sports operations and tap the popularity and passion of sport to engage of fans in the effort. The U.N. Sports for Climate Action Framework has two overarching objectives: to achieve a clear trajectory for the global sports community to combat climate change and to leverage sports as a unifying tool to drive climate awareness and action among global citizens. Signatories of the framework commit to five core principles–undertaking systematic efforts to promote greater environmental responsibility, reducing overall climate impact, educating for climate action, promoting sustainable and responsible consumption, and advocating for climate action through communication.
Stony Brook U Partners With Sustainable Energy Research Center
In an effort to support, foster and accelerate research, the university and the San Diego-based Center for Sustainable Energy recently signed an MOU assess the regional and global commercial potential of clean energy strategies that contribute to the U.S. transition to a low-carbon economy and to secure additional funding for projects. An overarching aspect of the collaboration will be to target greenhouse gas reduction projects that advance the goals of existing programs focusing on climate change.
Two Faculty Win Sustainable Chemistry Challenge
The first prize, worth over $56,000 (50,000 euros), in the 2019 Elsevier Foundation-ISC3 Green and Sustainable Chemistry Challenge went to Dr. Ramia Albakain, associate professor at the University of Jordan, for development of a technique to remove toxic metals from medical wastewater, making it safer for agricultural irrigation. The second prize, worth over $28,000, went to Dr. Ankur Patwardhan, head of the Biodiversity Department at Maharashtra Education Society’s Abasaheb Garware College, for development of a natural pollinator attractant formulation aimed at enhancing floral visits by butterflies thereby increasing plant-pollinator interactions.
U East London Students Tackle Plastic Waste on Beaches
(U.K.) The charity GreenSeas Trust approached the university's product design academics to ask if students would be interested in creating an impactful design for a bin that would inspire more people on beaches to dispose of plastic waste in bins. Two third-year students designed and created a bin in the shape of a life ring that will be rolled out on June 5, World Environment Day.
Blackburn College to Install 2 MW Solar Array
The university will soon break ground on a two-megawatt solar-electricity project on an eight-acre plot once used as athletic practice fields. The college is purchasing the array by using tax-exempt bond proceeds. The project is estimated to provide $125,000 annual savings to the college after project expenses.
The Chronicle Covers Climate-Related Facilities Concerns
In May, the Campus Spaces section of The Chronicle of Higher Education compiled pieces on how colleges are planning for climate change through the built environment and how they are protecting the campus from floods, fires, utility failures and more. The piece highlights Washington College, whose campus lies along the bank of the Chester River; Middlebury College, who became carbon neutral in 2016; and an opinion piece on the urgency of creating resiliency.
RecycleMania Tournament Reveals 2019 Winners
Loyola Marymount U took top place in the Diversion and Per Capita Classic, while Knox College clinched first in Food Organics. Winners in one-time reporting categories included The Ohio State University, Rutgers University, Saint Louis University, Southwestern College and Union College. The 2019 competition engaged students and staff at 300 colleges in the U.S. and Canada who recycled and composted 69.8 million pounds of materials.
SUNY Reveals 'Clean Energy Roadmap'
SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson recently announced that The State University of New York is joining forces with New York state’s energy agencies to launch the Clean Energy Roadmap, which will accelerate progress toward Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030. The roadmap calls for electricity from renewable sources and increased energy efficiency.
U Georgia to Purchase 20 Electric Buses
In an effort to reduce carbon emissions and increase alternative transportation options, the university recently established a contract to purchase up to 20 electric buses. Energy costs for operating the electric buses amount to less than $10 per day per bus, compared to energy costs for a diesel bus that total $90 per day per bus. The new buses also will have twice the horsepower and five times the efficiency of a diesel bus. The purchase is made possible by a $10 million grant from the GO! Transit Capital Program administered by Georgia’s State Road and Tollway Authority.
U Maryland Launches Green Lab Program
A new collaborative effort between the Office of Sustainability and the Department of Engineering & Energy called the Green Labs Program serves as a resource for labs to reduce the environmental impacts of their operations.
Florida Gulf Coast U Announces Water Research School
The Water School will draw disparate disciplines together including engineering, economics, education, healthcare, arts and humanities, psychology, sociology, physics and chemistry to focus on water-related research and to develop comprehensive solutions to issues. Water School researchers will focus on five major themes–climate change, restoration and remediation, human health, natural resources, and ecosystem integrity.
Walsh U Attains Tree Campus USA Designation
The university was recently honored with Tree Campus USA recognition by meeting Tree Campus USA’s five standards: maintaining a tree advisory committee; developing a campus tree-care plan; dedicating annual expenditures for its campus tree program; hosting an Arbor Day observance; and creating a student service-learning project.
California State U Dominguez Hills Becomes Tree Campus USA Certified
The university was recently honored with Tree Campus USA recognition by meeting Tree Campus USA’s five standards: maintaining a tree advisory committee; developing a campus tree-care plan for its 346-acre campus; dedicating annual expenditures for its campus tree program; hosting an Arbor Day observance; and creating a student service-learning project.
Cal Poly Hosts Inaugural Farmers Market
The university’s Campus Health & Wellbeing department will host its first Cal Poly Farmers’ Market, featuring San Luis Obispo County farmers and Cal Poly vendors at the beginning of May in an effort to ensure that all students, staff and faculty have access to local, seasonal and nutritious foods.
California State U Awards Grants to Support Student Well-Being
Part of the Basic Needs Initiative, the CSU Chancellor’s Office awarded seven student researchers, 10 faculty members and 14 campuses inaugural mini-grants that will go toward identifying ways to connect students with available campus resources and removing barriers to a degree.
Carleton U Researchers Receive $617K to Improve Building Performance
A professor in the Department of Systems and Computer Engineering recently received a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Strategic Partnership Grant worth $617,000 to investigate new technologies that will assist in the design of more sustainable buildings. The lead researcher will lead a group of more than a dozen interdisciplinary researchers including systems engineering, civil engineering, mechanical engineering and architecture.
U California Concludes 2019 Cool Campus Challenge
The University of California system recently completed its month-long competition, Cool Campus Challenge, in which campuses compete to reduce their carbon footprint. UC Berkeley had the highest total points; UC Merced has the greatest percent participation; and UC San Francisco was the health location with highest points. A surge on the final day of competition helped push the total participants to over 22,000 students, staff and faculty from across all 10 University of California campus locations and the University of California Office of the President.
U Vermont Student Team Wins Social Investing Competition
Five students from UVM’s Sustainable Innovation MBA program won the inaugural Total Impact Portfolio Challenge, hosted by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Social Impact Initiative, Good Capital Project and Bank of America. Fordham University Gabelli School of Business clinched runner up. The competition is designed to challenge future wealth managers, portfolio managers and investment advisors to build financial portfolios that not only make their clients a profit but make the world a better place.
Lamar U Announces $20M Energy Savings Milestone
To date, a 15-year project with Schneider Electric has generated $21,276,086 million in avoided costs and reduced campus-wide utility consumption by 43 percent. The savings came from replacing HVAC equipment, updating hot water heaters, water fixtures and the chiller plant, installing new energy management systems, and retrofitting campus lighting.
U California, San Francisco Receives $30M to Study Homelessness
Made possible by a $30 million gift, UC San Francisco recently announced the launch of the UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative, a new center that will research root causes of homelessness and identify evidence-based solutions to prevent and end homelessness.
U Rhode Island Joins Offshore Wind Partnership
The university will soon lead an offshore wind program, bolstered by a $3 million investment by Ørsted and Eversource, the team behind the Revolution Wind project, which is an effort to support offshore wind education and development. The university will partner with other institutions in the state to support workforce development needs, develop educational curricula, and provide a depth of academic and research expertise.
American U Converts Low-Temp Hot Water System
The new campus project involves replacing the outdated steam heating system with a more efficient hot water system, called a low-temperature hot water (LTHW) system, which operates at a temperature of 150° Fahrenheit, creating hot water but not steam. By lowering the temperature, in addition to creating a safer environment for facilities staff, heat lost during transportation of hot water will be cut to 14 percent. Once fully installed, the system is projected to reduce campus carbon emissions by 50 percent.
Paul Quinn College Announces Strategic Energy Initiative
The college's new energy plan includes cost-effective energy procurement, valuable infrastructure upgrades and renewable energy generation. Six campus buildings will host a combined total of 711-kilowatts of solar electric. Each will receive a full roof replacement at no upfront cost to the college prior to the solar installations.
U Massachusetts Lowell Installs Rooftop Vegetable Garden
Thanks to a collaboration between the university and a Lowell-based urban farming nonprofit, there’s a new rooftop, modular garden consisting of about 180 plants growing in individual milk crates filled with compost that originated from the university's dining halls. The primary purpose of the garden is to educate passersby about the university's Urban Agriculture Program.
Kapi‘olani CC Reduces Graduation Attire Waste
Students at the community college will collect caps and gowns at their commencement ceremony in May. In an effort to divert them from the landfill, they plan to sanitize the caps and gowns to make them available for rental to future graduates.
Environment America Releases HEI Renewable Energy Report
The recently released report from Environment America Research and Policy Center indicates that more than 40 colleges and universities obtain 100 percent or more of their electricity from renewable energy sources. Based on AASHE STARS reports submitted between 2016 and 2018, the report also found that 88 percent of the 261 campuses that reported campus fleet details have at least one electric vehicle. The publication provides recommendations for transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy and tactics for reducing carbon pollution.
U British Columbia Doubles Endowment Portion Divested From Fossil Fuels
The UBC Board of Governors recently approved an additional $25 million contribution to the main fund in the Sustainable Futures Pool, which is composed of low-carbon and “green” investments. Representing less than one percent of the university’s total investment portfolio, the Sustainable Futures Pool is performing at a higher rate than the endowment as a whole.
Scholars Form Sport & Climate Change Research Collaborative
On Earth Day 2019, eight sport scholars formed the Sport Ecology Group, a collective of researchers who work at the intersection of sport and the natural environment. The Sport Ecology Group website features a database of published research on sport and the environment, including work on zero-waste campaigns, facility sustainability, college athletics sustainability, fan engagement and climate risk management.
Pennsylvania State U Launches Student Sustainability Awards
In the launch of its inaugural Student Sustainability Awards, the university recently honored five undergraduate and graduate students from four different Penn State campuses. Students were nominated on the following criteria: exhibiting service to the Penn State community and beyond; building awareness of sustainability on campus; executing an exemplary project with a lasting impact; demonstrating leadership in a sustainability-related student organization; and/or creating involvement at the institutional level to affect change.
EPA Releases 2019 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. Eight of the top 30 institutions are meeting 100 percent (or more) of their electricity demand with green power.
27 Colleges & Universities Receive PepsiCo Recycling Grant
Now in its third year, PepsiCo Recycling's Zero Impact Fund allows representatives or employees of eligible colleges or universities to submit proposals to create or strengthen sustainable initiatives on campus. Winners receive up to $10,000 towards making those ideas a reality. There are 27 colleges and universities receiving funding for campus sustainability initiatives in the 2018-19 school year.
Washington U St. Louis Launches Student RE Program
The for-credit experiential learning program called RESET (Renewable Energy Student Engagement Team) explores engineering, policy and business aspects of solar projects. In mid-April, the 19 students that comprise the cohort pitched to senior university leadership a feasible solar-electric project on five buildings. The proposal would add 120 kilowatts of solar-generating capacity and have a cost avoidance of $500,000 during the 20-year life of the arrays.