Four Institutions Achieve STARS Platinum
Arizona State University, Cornell University, Université de Sherbrooke and University of Connecticut recently obtained Platinum ratings under the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). These institutions join five other STARS Platinum institutions: Colorado State University, Stanford University, Thompson Rivers University, University of California, Irvine, and University of New Hampshire. The STARS assessment framework encompasses long-term sustainability goals for already high-achieving institutions, as well as entry points of recognition for institutions that are taking first steps toward sustainability.
Pennsylvania State U Plants Wildflowers on Solar Farm
In early June, National Pollinators Month, 32 million seeds were planted around and under 10 acres of solar panels. The wildflower varieties are highly attractive to pollinators such as native bees, honey bees and butterflies, playing a vital role in supporting food and flowering plants.
U Pittsburgh Signs Solar PPA for Electricity
Through a new, 20-year solar power purchase agreement, the university will purchase all of the renewable electricity produced by a planned 20-megawatt solar power facility. It will cover approximately 13 percent of the Pittsburgh campus’ annual electricity usage.
California State U East Bay Adopts Air Travel Offset Policy
A flat $9 offset fee per trip will soon be charged to the department of any person traveling on university business when funded by the university or related affiliates. The funds collected will be deposited into the university’s Climate Action Plan Fund and used for projects at university-owned sites that provide greenhouse gas reductions.
Queen Mary U Invests in Energy Efficiency Measures
(U.K.) The university will be installing energy monitoring, enabling remote accessibility and live energy reporting, and LED lighting systems. The changes are expected to cut energy use by 25 percent at its Whitechapel campus.
Williams College Invests in Local Carbon Reduction Projects
Through a partnership with the environmental nonprofit Center for EcoTechnology, the college is investing in the Community Climate Fund, a portfolio of projects that yields a measurable carbon reduction, significant social and financial benefits in the local community, and curricular and research opportunities for students and faculty. The initial $100,000 investment is being used toward building materials recovery, a solar wall for a local childcare center, and energy-efficient heating system upgrades for low-income homes.
U College Cork Rolls Out E-Bike Trial
(Ireland) Following a successful pilot in 2019, the university has launched an initiative to provide staff with electric bikes for a trial period to determine if electric bikes are a desired method to commute to and from campus.
George Washington U Commits to Fossil Fuel Divestment
The university board of trustees pledged in late June to not make any new investments in businesses that derive the majority of their revenue from the extraction of fossil fuels and agreed to eliminate 100 percent of all such investments from its endowment over the next five years. The board also committed to working with investment managers to encourage investment in companies with environmentally sustainable business practices.
Instituto de Empresa U Announces Sustainability Strategy & Investment
(Spain) The university's new sustainability strategy, the "10 Year Challenge", will focus on specific annual projects from 2020 through 2030 and includes an $11 million (10 million euros) investment. The university's objective is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2030. Additionally, the university aims to eliminate bottled water by 2021; and by the end of 2020, reduce paper consumption by 100 percent, reduce single-use packaging by 50 percent, increase recycling by 50 percent, increase purchased renewable energy to 70 percent; and increase sustainable transportation use by 50 percent.
Santa Monica College Establishes George Floyd Scholarship
The college announced on June 19 a new endowment in honor of George Floyd, called the George Perry Floyd, Jr. Scholarship for Racial and Social Justice. The scholarship was started with a $20,000 gift to the Santa Monica College Foundation from anonymous donors. The scholarship will offer a $2,500 award over two years to black students to help offset the cost of tuition, books and living expenses while attending the college.
15 Canadian HEIs Sign Investment Charter
A group of 15 Canadian higher education institutions in mid-June signed onto a charter pledging each school to follow responsible investment practices. The charter calls on all signatories to adopt a responsible investment framework to guide investment decision-making, regularly measure the carbon intensity of investment portfolios, evaluate their progress regularly, and share assessments publicly.
Northern Illinois U Athletic Dept Enacts Social Justice Ed Plan
Geared toward student-athletes, coaches and staff, the social justice education plan seeks to create educational opportunities, support dialogue and encourage voting. The plan has already brought together African American student-athletes, a focus group of student-athlete leaders and an all-staff virtual town hall of NIU Athletics coaches and staff on the topics of social justice and race relations. Future sessions include a virtual meeting of all student-athletes led by NIU professors and individual team counseling sessions on the topic of race relations.
Winona State U Installs Electric Charging Stations
The university recently installed two new electric car charging stations. The stations are ready for use and open to students, faculty, staff and the public. The charging stations are free to use for WSU students. Faculty and staff receive a reduced fee of $0.10 per kilowatt-hour. Public users are charged a one-dollar flat rate connection fee as well as $0.10 per kilowatt-hour.
12 HEIs Recognized Among Canada's Greenest Employers
Now in its 13th year, Canada's Greenest Employers is an editorial competition organized by the Canada's Top 100 Employers project. Employers were evaluated in terms of: the unique environmental initiatives and programs they have developed; the extent to which they have been successful in reducing the organization's environmental footprint; the degree to which their employees are involved in these programs and whether they contribute any unique skills; and the extent to which these initiatives have become linked to the employer's public identity.
Loyola U Chicago Adds Environmental Communication Minor
The minor will be available to Loyola students in fall 2020 and will comprise a variety of courses offered by the Institute for Environmental Sustainability and the School of Communication. The 18-credit-hour minor will provide students with a background in environmental science and policy, and training in how to communicate environmental issues.
'Student Freedom Initiative' Addresses Loan Burden
Robert F. Smith—the billionaire who pledged during a commencement speech last year to pay off the student debt of the Morehouse College class of 2019—recently announced the Student Freedom Initiative to help ease the burden of student loans at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The Student Freedom Initiative will launch in fall 2021 at up to 11 HBCUs, offering juniors and seniors who are science, technology, engineering and mathematics majors a flexible, lower-risk alternative to high-interest private student loans.
U Pittsburgh Becomes Bee Campus USA Certified
Earning the certification through the nonprofit Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, the university has committed to educating the community on pollinator conservation and to supporting pollinators by establishing native-plant habitats, providing nesting sites and reducing pesticide use. Efforts already underway include the student-led Bee Friendly Pitt project that placed seven bee houses around campus to shelter solitary bees; the existence of four student-designed pollinator gardens; and the university’s practice of prioritizing native varieties of perennials, shrubs and trees in campus plantings.
NCAA Expands Confederate Flag Policy
The NCAA Board of Governors has expanded the association’s Confederate flag policy to prevent any NCAA championship events from being played in states where the symbol has a prominent presence. Mississippi is the only state currently affected by the association’s policy.
Morehouse & Spelman Colleges & UNCF Receive $120M
Philanthropists Patty Quillin and her husband, Reed Hastings, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Netflix, are donating $120 million to Morehouse College, Spelman College and the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). Each will receive $40 million. The money will be used to fund scholarships so that students graduate with less debt and more opportunity.
U California Signs Open Access Agreement
The university recently announced an open access publishing deal with Springer Nature in an effort to get research into the hands of scholars and the public helping solve the world’s most pressing problems. Under the four-year agreement, all UC research published in more than 2,700 of Springer Nature’s journals will be open access. In addition, the deal commits Springer Nature and UC to launching an open science pilot project in 2021.
Harvard U Graduate Students Reach Union Agreement
Bargaining teams for the university and its graduate student union reached a tentative one-year contract recently, which they will unanimously recommend to union members for ratification. If ratified, the contract would be the first in university history to provide more than 4,000 student workers at Harvard with workplace protections. Among other things, the new contract includes pay increases for graduate student workers, childcare subsidies, new procedures to address discrimination and harassment, and the provision of personal protective equipment.
U Nevada Reno Announces Actions to Address Racism
In an effort to respond to the anger and frustration expressed by its Black students, faculty and staff, the university recently announced measures aimed at supporting a more inclusive, safe and equitable campus. They are: review its African Diaspora Program, recognize prominent Black social justice pioneers on campus, explore test score alternatives, establish a living learning community focused on Black culture, and expand cultural competency education across campus.
Connecticut College Adopts GHG Emissions Reduction Target
The college recently adopted a new goal to achieve a 45 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. To reach the new goal, the college will undertake a multi-phased process beginning with a Utility Master Plan that will lay out a long-term strategy for transforming energy production and use on campus. This will be followed by a Climate Action Plan, laying out specific projects and a timeline to meet or exceed the goal. Both plans are to be executed in the coming year.
Texas A&M Regents Create $100M Diversity Scholarship Fund
The university system's board of regents recently announced a $100 million scholarship fund to address diversity issues as well as concerns of students who are first-generation and/or from low-income families in the wake of economic uncertainty associated with COVID-19. The program provides $10 million annually over 10 years for scholarships to students from particularly low income, first-generation and geographically underrepresented regions of the state.
U Colorado Boulder Adopts Anti-Racism Actions
Immediate actions that were announced to transform the campus experience for Black students, faculty and staff, and for all students, faculty and staff of color and other marginalized individuals and groups include updating and enhancing faculty and staff hiring practices to achieve greater representation of persons of color; implementing mandatory bystander training for all campus members; examining its procurement practices with Colorado Correctional Industries, a division of the Colorado Department of Corrections; review campus police policies and procedures; and charge faculty with development of a first-year course in anti-racism.
U Kentucky to Remove Mural With Disturbing Imagery
The university's president in a recent message announced that a mural that has been the subject of years of debate will be removed. The mural depicts scenes from Kentucky's history and includes enslaved black people planting tobacco.
South Dakota State U Adds 20 KW Photovoltaic Array
In early June, 54 solar panels were installed on the university's Facilities & Services roof. The 20.25-kilowatt solar-electric array provides approximately 18 percent of the total building energy usage.
Paul Smith’s College Receives $60K for Energy Audit & STARS Fellows
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) recently awarded a $56,000 REV Campus Challenge Technical Assistance for Roadmaps grant to the university that will be used to hire third-party energy consultants to assess campus infrastructure and energy use. Additionally, $4,000 in bonus funding will support sustainability fellowship positions for students working on Sustainability Tracking and Rating Systems (STARS) projects.
Ferris State U Announces Wege Prize Winners
First place winner of the Wege Prize 2020 Design Competition is Georgia Tech and Makerere University (Uganda) for creating biodegradable materials while mitigating the threat of invasive species. Second place is Kendall College of Art & Design of Ferris State University, Grand Valley State University and Oakland University for closing the loop on campus food waste. Third place is Ashesi University (Ghana), Earth University (Costa Rica) and Trinity College for turning waste streams into economic opportunity while nurturing soil health. The Wege Prize 2020 Design Competition is an annual international design competition organized by Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University.
Alabama A&M U Receives $2.2M for Electric Buses
The university's Bulldog Transit System (BTS) has been awarded over $2.2 million from the Federal Transit Administration to further increase its total number of electric buses, as well as to work toward its goal of providing needed infrastructure upgrades, charging stations, and a bus storage facility.
California CC Presidents Form Alliance to Combat Racism
More than 60 community colleges in California have joined the California Community College Equity Leadership Alliance to actively combat racism on their campuses. The alliance will be managed out of the University of Southern California’s Race & Equity Center. Colleges in the alliance will each pay the center $25,000 a year to be part of the alliance. In return, they will have access to specialized tools, resources and guidance, such as racial equity strategic action planning and an equity resource portal with equity-focused rubrics, readings, case studies, slide shows, videos and conversation scripts.
U Minnesota Limits Relationship With Minneapolis Police Department
As a result of the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD), the University of Minnesota president recently announced changes to how the university police department will work with the MPD. The university's police department will no longer contract with the MPD for additional law enforcement support needed for large events, such as football games, concerts and ceremonies, or for when specialized services are needed for university events, such as K-9 Explosive detection units.
U Virginia Study Abroad Office Publishes Inaugural Sustainability Plan
The university International Studies Office's (ISO) first Sustainability Plan calls for offsetting all carbon emissions of air travel for education abroad programs administered and managed directly by the ISO, offsetting all carbon emissions for all ISO staff travel, working towards completing UVA’s Green Workplace Program, committing to 100 percent zero-waste and carbon neutral events, and prioritizing sustainable accommodation options where possible.
U Virginia Partnership Increases Adoption of Solar Energy
In an effort to help the state reach its carbon neutrality goal of 2050, the University of Virginia Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service has partnered with the state’s Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy to host an advisory program, SolSmart, aimed to help local governments implement and embrace solar energy.
U Louisville Initiates Equity Changes
In an effort to confront police brutality and building names with ties to slavery, representatives from the Black Student Union recently provided a list of demands to the university leadership. Following the meeting, the university committed to the following: ensure that the university police department is the lead law enforcement agency when dealing with a member of the campus community; perform an equity audit on all criminal justice academic programs; reduce the need for external law enforcement support at athletic events; provide de-escalation and cultural sensitivity training for officers working university events or hired by the university police department, and remove the term "overseer" from the name of its Honors House.
U Manchester to Decarbonize Its Investment Portfolio
(U.K.) The university recently announced that it will end investments in fossil fuel reserve and extraction companies by 2022, and decarbonize its investment portfolio by 2038. Its decarbonization commitment seeks to not only divest from fossil fuel companies but redirect its investments from carbon-intensive companies to companies that are more carbon efficient (emit less carbon for their level of activity).
Big Ten Announces 'Anti-Hate & Anti-Racism Coalition'
The Big Ten Conference commissioner, Kevin Warren, announced at the end of May the creation of the Big Ten Conference Anti-Hate and Anti-Racism Coalition, an initiative that seeks to partner with campus diversity councils to create the conditions where student athletes possess their rights to free speech and peaceful protest.
Boston U Announces Center for Antiracist Research
The university recently announced that Ibram X. Kendi, author of "How To Be an Antiracist" and 2012’s "The Black Campus Movement", will join and launch the BU Center for Antiracist Research. While the details of the center have not yet been finalized, Dr. Kendi outlined its broader mission: foster collaborations across the university; build multidisciplinary problem-centered research teams; assist faculty from all corners of BU with converting racial research into media pitches and books; collect, organize and utilize data on racial inequity; and organize public events, including the Antiracist Book Festival. Photo by Stephen Voss
DePauw U Installs Photovoltaic Array
The roof of the university's Indoor Tennis and Track Center now holds 860 photovoltaic panels. More than 40 donors gave toward the installation of the panels, which cost $460,000.
EPA Announces Winners Campus RainWorks Challenge
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced Florida International University as the first place winner in the Master Plan category, with University of Arizona placing second. In the Demonstration Project category, University of California at Los Angeles placed first while Arizona State University came in second. The EPA also recognized Michigan State University for honorable mention in the Master Plan category and the University of California at Berkeley for honorable mention in the Demonstration Project category. The Campus RainWorks Challenge a national competition that engages college students in the design of on-campus green infrastructure solutions to help address stormwater pollution.
U Puerto Rico Receives $1.4M to Reduce Diesel Emissions
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced a grant of $1.4 million to the university that will provide funding to replace 15 old, heavy-duty trucks. The university will also develop seminars for diesel vehicle owners and the general public in Puerto Rico to raise awareness about the harmful environmental impacts of diesel emissions, including those from idling, and resources available to help reduce diesel emissions.
U Toledo Installs 332 KW Solar Array
A new 332-kilowatt photovoltaic array on the university's Health Science Campus is expected to save the university approximately $30,000 per year in avoided electricity costs. A senior student design team worked with the university's Facilities and Construction to identify the site and prepare construction engineering drawings. The Student Green Fund approved spending $350,000 to cover the costs to install the array.
Recyclemania Announces 2020 Results
Across nearly 300 campuses in 43 states, more than 48 million pounds of waste was recycled, donated or composted over a five-week term (originally the term was eight weeks, but it was cut short due to COVID-19 closings). There were nine winners across nine categories this year. Additionally, in celebration of Recyclemania's 20th anniversary, the program announced a name change to Campus Race to Zero Waste.
Three Universities Collaborate on Waste Research
Princeton University, the University at Albany (lead university) and the University of Michigan, along with the Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory, recently announced a research collaboration to transform how organic waste, such as food waste, is handled. The goal is to develop economically viable methods to convert wet organic waste into high value products. The DOE has allocated $2.7 million to the project, and the consortium is adding an additional $709,550 to bring the total budget to more than $3.4 million.
Bucknell U Building Achieves LEED Platinum O+M
The university's academic and office building, Academic West, includes room occupancy sensors, large windows and glass interior walls that allow natural light to permeate the building, a green roof that helps the building stay cool and serves as a laboratory for student and faculty research, rain gardens, and a smart metering system that logs data on energy, temperature, water flow and HVAC settings every five minutes.