Miami U Becomes Climate Commitment Signatory

In mid-September, the university's president signed Second Nature's Presidents' Climate Leadership Commitments, which set the university on the path of adapting to climate change through campus and community engagement, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions to achieve carbon neutrality as soon as possible.

Cornell U Students Build Solar-Charging Trailer for Landscaping Equipment

Members of the university's Sustainable Design student group recently delivered to the grounds department a 7-by-12-foot trailer that will cart and power electric string trimmers, hedge clippers, chainsaws and an electric, heavy-duty commercial mower. The trailer will help Cornell reduce carbon emissions while raising awareness of its environmental initiatives, aimed at helping the campus achieve carbon neutrality by 2035.

Insight Into Diversity Recognizes 2020 HEED Award Recipients

The Insight Into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award went to 91 colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada this year that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. Specifically, this award seeks to measure an institution’s level of achievement and intensity of commitment in regard to broadening diversity and inclusion on campus through initiatives, programs and outreach; student recruitment, retention and completion; and hiring practices for faculty and staff.

Loyola U Chicago Announces School of Environmental Sustainability

The university's board of trustees recently announced the elevation of the Institute of Environmental Sustainability to the School of Environmental Sustainability, creating Loyola’s 11th school. In an effort to amplify cross-school interdisciplinary collaborations and research, there will be four new interdisciplinary areas of study introduced: the departments of energy and sustainability science, sustainable and equitable societies, sustainable economics and governance, and environmental toxicology and health equity.

NC A&T Receives $1.6M to Promote Inclusiveness in Agriculture

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture has awarded a $1.6-million grant to help implement the Center of Excellence to Motivate and Educate for Achievement based at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. The center aims to encourage and support young people from underrepresented minority groups to pursue studies and careers in food, agriculture and natural resources.

NC A&T to Rename Two Buildings

The North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University board of trustees voted recently to immediately remove the names from Morrison Hall and Cherry Hall, both named for former North Carolina governors who, in different ways, blocked civil rights and racial equity. University leaders said they plan to recommend new names for both buildings in early 2021.

Cornell U Receives $1.5M to Help Increase Digital Tech Access

Cornell engineers and researchers were recently awarded $1.5 million from the National Science Foundation to collaborate with community partners to design the nation’s first statewide Internet of Things public infrastructure in an effort to reduce the barriers to access to digital technology.

U Sydney Publishes Sustainability Strategy

(Australia) Key targets in the university's new sustainability strategy are 100 percent renewable energy by 2025, cut air travel 20 percent by 2025, compost 80 percent of food waste by 2025, reduce single-use plastics to zero by 2030 and reduce potable drinking water 30 percent by 2030.

U Notre Dame to Procure Solar Electricity

The university partnered with a power company to purchase 40 percent of the total output from a 22-megawatt solar electric project, which is equal to about 10 percent of the university's overall electrical usage.

Tulane U Launches Renewable Energy Degree Program

The university's business school launched a new program in renewable and sustainable energy, a specialization within the master of management in energy program. The new degree program will focus on the knowledge and skills needed to bring renewable energy projects from concept to completion.

U Pittsburgh Partners to Upgrade Fleet to Electric & Hybrid

The university is now leasing a total of 268 electric and hybrid vehicles through an expanded partnership with a national car rental agency. Overall, the agreement is projected to save the university $750,000 over the next five years while supporting the university's carbon neutrality commitment.

Five Washington U St. Louis Buildings Earn LEED Platinum

Four buildings–Sumers Welcome Center, Weil Hall, Schnuck Pavilion and Jubel Hall–were certified as part of the East End Transformation, of which highlights include buildings that are designed to be 30 percent more efficient than standard buildings; heat recovery chillers that harvest waste heat for heating needs; a living green wall in Weil Hall; furniture that is compliant with the Healthier Hospitals Initiative; and a green roof over the underground garage. A fifth building–January Hall–originally built in 1922, features improvements to its building envelope and an energy-efficient mechanical system. More than 60 percent of the historic furniture and wall paneling in the hall's East Asian Library was preserved and reused, substantially minimizing the embodied carbon of the project.

I2SL Announces Lab Freezer Challenge Winners

The organizational and individual laboratory winners of the 2020 International Laboratory Freezer Challenge are, respectively, the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Learning and Research Laboratory at the University of Bristol. Honorable mentions include the University of Alabama Birmingham in the organizational category and, in the individual lab category, the BioSpecimen Processing Facility at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, the Biology Teaching Laboratories at the University of California Santa Cruz; and the Van Der Pol Lab at the University of Alabama Birmingham. Together, the 2020 challenge participants saved a combined total of roughly 3.2 million kilowatt-hours per year.

MIT Partners to Improve State Pension Investment Data

A new partnership between the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative and the Massachusetts state pension fund aims to provide data to investors who want to make decisions based on things like the way a company treats its workers, its carbon emissions or its product safety record. For MIT, the partnership will inform research questions and methodology to refine the challenges of integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues into the investment process.

Washington Monthly Publishes 'Best Colleges for Student Voting' List

Compiled from information through All In Campus Democracy Challenge and the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) at Tufts University, the Washington Monthly ranking measures how well colleges encourage their students to vote, boosting democratic participation and civic engagement. This year, a total of 157 schools made the list, which was ordered by the voter registration rate.

Aarhus U Approves 44 Actions to Reduce Emissions

(Denmark) The university recently announced 44 activities to reduce carbon emissions, some of which are waste-sorting pilot projects in study areas, libraries and canteens, electricity meters on IT equipment, assessing the feasibility of solar-electric, and using fixed temperature settings for all university buildings in the winter. The four focus areas of the actions are campus, transportation, procurement and waste.

City Glasgow College Purchases Food Composter

(U.K.) The college recently invested in equipment to allow it to compost food waste on campus rather than hauling it to a facility. The new process allows food waste to be collected by staff in the on-campus kitchens, then processed through their dewatering system, before the substance is fed into the composter to create a nutritious compost resource in 14 days.

U Nebraska Lincoln Initiates Recycling Improvement Changes

The university will launch a new pilot program designed to make recycling processes universal in all campus buildings. It will be tested in eight buildings before being offered university-wide. The change comes after a survey of nearly 9,000 students, faculty and staff revealed that 95 percent of the campus community want improvements to the recycling process. Overall, the project aims to purchase 450 recycling stations. Along with setting campus guidelines for recycling and solid waste management, it will include standardized signage, posters and messaging; and a campaign to engage and educate students, faculty and staff about the benefits of pro-environmental behaviors.

Rutgers U Offers Electric Scooters

In an effort to relieve overcrowded buses, the university recently introduced 300 electric scooters on campus. The e-scooters connect to an app and cost $1 to begin the ride plus 28 cents per minute.

SUNY Cortland Installs EV Charging Stations

Starting this fall, the university began offering campus community members the option to recharge personal electric vehicle (EV) batteries on campus for a small fee. The cost to add four chargers to campus was $115,000, much of which was covered by two grants.

Austin CC Switches to Solar & Wind Power

The community college district launched its 100 percent renewable energy program with the Texas General Land Office, and now its Round Rock and Elgin campuses use 100 percent renewable energy from wind and solar.

Dumfries Galloway College Launches Sustainable Energy Hub

(U.K.) Called the Green Energy Hub, the new initiative aims to provide practical solutions to the challenges of heating, power and water supply faced by the college as well as creating a valuable teaching tool for students. Technologies of the hub will include a wind turbine, heat pumps, solar arrays, battery storage and electric vehicle charging points.

U Illinois Chicago to Lead Consortium of HSIs

The university recently announced its role as lead university of Crossing Latinidades, a new consortium of 16 Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) with the R1 designation in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Supported by a $150,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the consortium will feature four pilot collaborative working groups that will develop proposals of comparative research, scholarship, teaching and resource sharing built around the themes of material culture, language and identity, climate change and inequality, and poetry.

U North Carolina Charlotte Creates Scholarship for Social Justice

The new scholarship provides annual support to returning undergraduate students with demonstrated financial need, potential for academic success in their chosen program of study and a record of service or social action either at UNC Charlotte, in the greater Charlotte community or in their hometown. Each recipient will receive a minimum award of $1,500.

Northwestern U Research Center Earns LEED Gold

The university's Biomedical Research Center features a vegetated roof, a rainwater collection system, a double-skin facade on the south-facing side to reduce heat and glare, energy recovery wheels in laboratory exhaust and water-efficient fixtures.

Lane CC Building Earns LEED Silver

The community college's Center for Learning and Student Success building was recently renovated to include energy-efficient HVAC and lighting systems, automatic lighting systems, high-efficiency plumbing fixtures, reflective material to reduce heat island effect, low-emission finishes and construction materials, and raised planter beds for fruits and herbs to be grown in accordance with the college's integrated pest management plan.

Sam Houston State U Students Construct Solar Shade

In August, students completed a design-build solar charging station project at the city-owned pool.

Princeton Review Publishes 2021 Green Honor Roll

The Princeton Review recently released the 2021 Green Honor Roll, ranking the 30 colleges and universities that received the highest possible Green Rating score (99). There were 695 higher education institutions evaluated. The rating system includes health and sustainability as quality of life indicators for students, employment preparation for the clean-energy economy, citizenship preparation, and institutional policies related to environmental responsibility.

U Houston Gets Grant for Carbon Management Projects

The university's Center for Carbon Management in Energy recently awarded $275,000 in research funding to cover a range of projects from converting carbon to fuel and other useful products to a proposed new wireless monitoring system for carbon capture storage. The Center for Carbon Management in Energy was launched as a University research center in 2019 to form an academic-industry consortium to reduce industry’s carbon footprint and find new business opportunities for carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gas emissions.

U Oregon Launches Black Studies Minor

The university's College of Arts and Sciences is offering the Black studies minor beginning in fall of 2020. It will serve at the academic home of its Umoja Residential Community, which takes its name from the Swahili word for unity.

U North Carolina Chapel Hill Appoints CSO

Having served as director of the UNC Institute for the Environment since 2018, Mike Piehler was recently named the university’s chief sustainability officer and special assistant to the chancellor for sustainability. He is a coastal ecosystem ecologist at the UNC Institute of Marine Sciences and has joint appointments in the department of marine sciences, department of environmental sciences and engineering, and the environment, ecology and energy program. As chief sustainability officer, Mike will provide leadership and coordination of broad sustainability efforts on campus, develop a plan to reach short- and long-term goals and serve as chair of the university’s Sustainability Council.

Ball State U Building Obtains LEED Gold

The university's new Health Professions building includes green roofs, photovoltaic solar panels, an underground stormwater retention system, low-flow water fixtures, energy-efficient LED lighting, a design that enhances daylight to reduce energy consumption, and ground-source heating and cooling.

CaGBC Announces 2020 Building Award Winners

The Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) recently announced the winners of the 2020 Leadership and Green Building Excellence Awards. The awards recognize individuals and organizations that demonstrate outstanding industry leadership and have made significant contributions to CaGBC’s mission to advance green building in Canada. The University of Calgary won the Green Building Excellence Zero Carbon Award. The Humber College Building Nx won in the Green Building Excellence Existing Building category. The Inspired Educator award went to Mohawk College. Colin Pinchin, a fourth-year student at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, won the Students Leading Sustainability: Andy Kesteloo Memorial Project Award.

Loyola U Spain Campus Receives LEED Platinum

(Spain) Loyola University campus in Seville, Spain, features facades and windows that were designed to minimize sizable energy losses, photovoltaic panels and a water recovery system. More than 20 percent of the building materials were reused materials, and more than 30 percent of the materials were locally extracted.

Cleveland State U Achieves LEED Gold

The university's College of Engineering building, Washkewicz Hall, features low-flow toilets and faucets, energy-efficient mechanical systems, light-colored roof material to reflect heat and maintain a cooler temperature within the building, and paints, flooring and wall materials containing no- or low-volatile organic compounds.

Duke U to Purchase 101 MW of Solar Energy

The university will soon bolster its renewable energy portfolio through the purchase of 101 megawatts of solar electricity from three facilities expected to be online by 2022. The purchase is projected to meet about 50 percent of Duke's annual electricity needs.

San Diego State U Building Earns LEED Gold

The university’s newest residential community building, Huaxyacac Hall, includes advanced energy and water metering to optimize energy efficiency and support water management, low-flow toilets, showers and faucets to promote water conservation, and trickle vents in resident rooms to improve indoor air quality and reduce energy consumption. Additional sustainable elements include an expansive outdoor space with water-efficient landscaping, covered bicycle storage and water bottle refill stations.

Columbia U Announces Building Name Change

The university's president recently emailed the campus community alerting them to the renaming of Bard Hall, a dormitory for clinical students. The building was named after an 18th century physician, Samuel Bard, who owned enslaved people. A new name was not given, however at the president's behest, a group will convene to consider campus names and symbols associated with race and racism and provide recommendations.

U North Carolina Asheville to Change Building Names

The university's board of trustees recently voted to remove the names of two campus buildings, Vance and Hoey Halls, immediately. Zebulon Baird Vance was a Confederate military officer during the Civil War and owned enslaved people, and Clyde R. Hoey was a segregationist and actively opposed civil rights legislation. The resolution also requested that the university's chancellor appoint a task force to study and review all UNC Asheville campus buildings and to suggest renaming options.

Environment America Releases Higher Ed Renewable Energy Report

Environment America's newly released report, "America’s Top Colleges for Renewable Energy 2020: Who Is Leading the Transition to 100% Renewable Energy on Campus?", catalogs the efforts of 127 colleges and universities that reported data through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Green Power Partnership. The report lists the top 10 colleges and universities obtaining 100 percent or more of their electricity from renewable sources, with Georgetown University leading all schools, generating and purchasing more than 1.3 times as much electricity from renewable sources as it consumes. It also lists the top five schools for renewable heating, cooling, hot water and other non-electric energy produced per student, with Colby College listed first.

Georgia Tech Introduces SDGs Initiative

The university recently announced that it will use the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework to implement its new strategic plan, advance organizational innovation, strengthen the university’s local and global collaborations, and address urgent challenges such as COVID-19 and racial injustice.

HKUST Announces Large-Scale Solar-Electric System

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) recently announced a renewable energy project that will include the installation of up to 8,000 solar panels at over 50 locations on campus. The system will generate up to 3 million kilowatt-hours of electricity each year. Part of the system will be dedicated as a living laboratory for the university’s faculty and students to test out ideas and projects related to solar energy systems.

U Illinois Chicago Receives $5M for Public Health Clinics

The university recently received $5 million to support the UIC-Shawnee Health Service Black Lung Clinics Program for five more years. The program provides diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation and compensation counseling services to coal miners living in Illinois and Indiana. Additionally, a $625,000 grant will support its Black Lung Data and Resource Center, which serves as a national resource, and a $400,000 grant will allow the center to expand its research on health outcomes among former coal miners.

Portland State U Police Discontinue Carrying Firearms

In an effort to reimagine how best to address the continuum of safety on its campus, the university's Campus Public Safety Office recently decided to patrol campus without carrying firearms beginning this fall. Additionally, the university announced the creation of a safety committee tasked with assessing how to keep campus safe without relying on officers carrying firearms and provide innovative solutions to an array of safety and security needs, including providing basic security and assisting those who are in crisis.

Davidson College Issues Apology for Benefiting From Slavery

The college recently issued a public apology for its support of slavery during the college’s first 30 years and its embrace of the unjust laws and false ideas that upheld racist systems and practices after slavery was outlawed. In tandem with the apology, the college released a report from the Commission on Race and Slavery, which proposes funding and action steps for building name changes, anti-racism training, auditing admissions and hiring with a racial equity lens, and further research and public education about the college's history where intertwined with slavery.

William & Mary Establishes Social Justice Policy Initiative

Starting this fall, the new Social Justice Policy Initiative in the sociology department is a faculty-student collaborative project to engage in policy-oriented and community-based research and advocacy. The initiative aims to bring sociological and interdisciplinary research to community-based and advocacy organizations and policy-makers at local, state, national and global levels. The initial projects are affordable housing, educational equity, eviction crisis, racial and partisan gerrymandering, food justice, and local black histories.

U Pittsburgh Requires Racial Justice Course for First Year Students

The course, Anti-Black Racism: History, Ideology, and Resistance, will be a required, asynchronous, one-credit offering for first-year students on the Pittsburgh campus starting this fall. Students at the regional campuses, as well as any other interested students, may also register.

U California to Phase Out Single-Use Plastics

As part of a commitment to achieve zero waste, the university recently adopted a policy that will transition UC away from plastic bags in retail and dining locations (by January 2021) and eventually eliminate single-use plastic food service items (by July 2021) and plastic bottles (by January 2023).

Pennsylvania HEIs Partner With Municipalities on Climate Action

Twelve Pennsylvania colleges and universities are participating in the state's Department of Environmental Protection's Local Climate Action Program, which pairs municipalities with college students for assistance in developing the components of their local climate action plans. The participants learn how to measure local greenhouse gas emissions, assess local climate-related vulnerabilities and develop plans to reduce emissions and manage climate change impacts in their communities.

U Virginia Opens 'Memorial to Enslaved Laborers'

Designed by Thomas Jefferson and built by enslaved people, the University of Virginia in Charlottesville recently completed the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers, recognizing Black workers subjected to slavery and racism and offers a place of healing as well as learning. The circular shape of the memorial echoes broken shackles and also the “ring shout,” a traditional dance of enslaved African Americans.