Vanderbilt U Releases Strategic Sustainability Plan
Vanderbilt University unveiled a comprehensive long-term strategy on Earth Day 2019 to significantly reduce its environmental footprint, in part by powering its campus entirely through renewable energy, putting the university on track to be carbon neutral by 2050. The university plans to meet its 2050 commitment by investing in on-site clean energy and off-site large-scale renewable energy, increasing green spaces across campus such as pedestrian-friendly walkways and parks, reducing energy consumption and waste, decreasing the university’s carbon footprint from transportation and commuting, and investing in sustainable built environments.
U Illinois Urbana-Champaign Adds Rooftop Solar Array
The new 12.5-kilowatt solar electric array was recently installed on the fourth floor rooftop of the Business Instructional Facility addition. The new array will supply enough power to offset anticipated energy use of the fourth floor addition by contributing approximately 15,500 kilowatt-hours per year. The Student Sustainability Committee funded roughly half of the $116,290 project.
North Carolina State U Housekeeping Becomes Green Seal Certified
University Housekeeping recently achieved the Green Seal certification by meeting products and services requirements and passing a performance review encompassing all aspects of its cleaning program. The requirements, which range from equipment and procedures to chemicals and employee training, were documented and verified through an on-site audit.
Johns Hopkins U Enters Solar Energy Procurement Agreement
The university has entered into a 15-year agreement to supply its campuses with more than 250,000 megawatt-hours of solar power per year, meeting roughly two-thirds of its overall energy needs with solar power. The university will purchase the power and project-specific RECs from a new 175-megawatt solar plant being developed in Virginia.
Princeton U Releases Sustainability Plan
The university’s new Sustainability Action Plan sets targets to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions and outlines repeatable, scalable and innovative strategies that engage all faculty, staff and students in creating a sustainable campus. The plan covers energy, waste and water reduction; alternative modes of transportation; healthy water and habitats; responsible development; and sustainable purchasing. Princeton will aim to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2046, which is the university’s 300th anniversary.
U San Francisco Reaches Carbon Neutrality
Reaching its goal of zero net carbon emissions 31 years ahead of its 2050 target date, the university achieved neutrality through on-campus renewable energy and energy-efficiency upgrades, purchasing carbon offsets in projects with a focus on environmental justice, reducing waste, and supporting a diversity of transportation options with lower carbon impact.
Penn State U Offers Faculty Workshop on Ethics of Climate Change Course
In order to expand the impact of the new Ethics of Climate Change course, the university’s Office for General Education and the Sustainability Institute will offer a two-day training workshop for Penn State faculty interested in bringing the course to their campuses. Participants will have an opportunity to work with the original designers of the course as well as with climate change experts. Participants will receive a small amount of supplemental pay, meals, housing, and individualized guidance that will extend beyond the two-day workshop.
U.S. Solar Decathlon 2019 Announces Winners
The U.S. Department of Energy recently announced winners of its Solar Decathlon Design Challenge, comprising 10 contests, in which student teams design highly efficient and innovative buildings powered by renewable energy. Virginia Tech was the grand winner. The primary goals of the competition are to advance building science curricula in university programs across the country and inspire students to continue careers related to cutting edge high-performance building design.
Union College Installs EV Charging Stations
In an effort to encourage more electric vehicle users, the college has added nine new dual-port charging stations around campus, bringing the number of spots available for electric vehicle users to 22 from four. The stations were paid for in part through grants from National Grid and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
U Saskatchewan Invests in Energy Efficiency
Armed with $1.5 million in support from the federal government’s Low Carbon Economy Fund, the university plans to fix, replace or eliminate equipment and systems that are outdated and inefficient in 26 buildings on campus, to be completed by March 2022.
Duke U Develops Green Building Standards
The High Performance Building Framework is a set of procedures and guidelines for new construction and major renovations that takes a holistic view of sustainable building at Duke. Outlining a process for planning and designing campus buildings, the plan also includes a new tracking and rating system to examine how facilities perform.
12 HEIs Make Canada's Greenest Employers List
Canada's Greenest Employers is an editorial competition organized by the Canada's Top 100 Employers project. This designation recognizes the employers that lead the nation in creating a culture of environmental awareness in their organizations. The higher education institutions that won this achievement in 2019 are the Durham College of Applied Arts and Technology, Humber College, McGill University, Mohawk College, Red River College, the Universities of Alberta, British Columbia, Calgary, Toronto and Victoria, Wilfrid University and York University.
Georgia Tech Receives $40K Grant for Sustainability Network
The Turner Foundation recently awarded the Georgia Tech Foundation a $40,000 grant to support two projects of the region’s new sustainability network, the Regional Center for Excellence (RCE) Greater Atlanta. The projects include a training program on the U.N. SDGs to be led by the RCE Greater Atlanta Youth Network and the fourth iteration of the Environmental Justice Academy leadership development program. RCE Greater Atlanta brings together 10 universities and colleges with nonprofit, community, government, and business partners to offer broad-based, multi-stakeholder educational and training programs that support key regional sustainable development efforts. It focuses especially on equity and justice issues inherent in sustainable development.
McGill U Drops Redmen Name From Sports Teams
The university announced its recent decision to drop the Redmen name from varsity sports teams after consultation with the McGill community. The name is considered to be an offensive term for Indigenous peoples. Moving forward, a steering committee will be established to lead a consultative process for choosing a new name.
Chalmers U Tech Launches Gender Equality Project
(Sweden) GENIE, Gender Initiative for Excellence, launched January 2019 with a budget of $32 million (300 million kronor) over 10 years, aims to increase the proportion of women at the professor level from 17 percent to 40 percent and remove structural and cultural obstacles that hamper career progression of women.
Salem State U Receives $57K in Fund Holdings for Divesting
The Multi-School Fossil Free Divestment Fund was established in 2014 to collectively pressure universities to divest from fossil fuels. The fund allowed parents, alumni, faculty, staff and students to leverage their donations to help participating universities divest. The fund held and invested donations until a school froze any new endowment investments in fossil fuel companies and divested within five years from current holdings of fossil fuel companies. Salem State University was the only institution out of 30 to fully divest from fossil fuels. The university will use the funds to establish two endowed student scholarships – a climate justice and social justice undergraduate award.
Eight Presidents Commit to Island Sustainability
At the Presidential Summit on Island Sustainability, the presidents of eight island colleges and universities committed to seek indigenous/island solutions to island problems, connect heads of research and workforce development with one another, create an inventory or website of best practices and solutions, and foster exchange visits of faculty, staff and students. The leaders present for the summit were from the University of Guam, Guam Community College, Northern Marianas College, the College of the Marshall Islands, the University of Hawaii, Western Philippines University in Palawan, Jeju National University in South Korea, and the University of the West Indies in Jamaica.
California State U Los Angeles Bans Plastic Straws & Bags
As of April 8, food vendors at the university are no longer offering plastic straws or carryout bags. Instead, paper alternatives will be available. The move is part of a new California State University system policy that aims to eliminate single-use plastic straws, plastic bags and water bottles on all 23 campuses by 2023. Styrofoam food service items will be phased out by 2021 and the use of single-use plastic water bottles will end in 2023.
Georgetown U Students Endorse Slavery Reconciliation Fund
Students recently voted overwhelmingly in favor of a referendum to establish a semesterly fee of $27.20 that would go toward a fund to benefit descendants of the GU272, the 272 enslaved people sold by the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus in 1838 to financially sustain the university. If approved by the university, the referendum would create a reconciliation fund, which would be presided over by a board of trustees including five students and five descendants.
American College Greece Holds Inaugural Climate Change Symposium
(Greece) The inaugural event focused on the economic consequences of climate change impacts and related risk estimates, the national plan for energy and climate, forecasting of extreme weather phenomena resulting in catastrophic flooding and fire incidences in the country, and the development of climate change adaptation plans.
San Bernardino Valley College Receives Clean Energy Training Grant
The San Bernardino Valley College Foundation has been awarded a $50,000 grant from Edison International to benefit students looking to work in the automotive industry, specifically on electric vehicles. The grant will be used to develop a certificate program for clean energy EV technician training.
U Saskatchewan Completes Water Efficiency Project
The project involved the replacement of 75 percent of the toilets and urinals and installing aerators on 85 percent of the faucets in the university's Arts Building. The project has an estimated savings of roughly 13,263,000 liters per year and annual cost savings of approximately $33,000.
Northwestern U Receives Energy Star Award
The 2019 Energy Star Partner of the Year Award recognizes the university’s achievements in energy efficiency, including efforts to accurately track energy usage data and measure progress in reducing consumption. Northwestern’s notable accomplishments include completing a comprehensive building energy consumption audit of all 222 campus buildings and implementing a new dashboard system that supplies key departmental contacts across campus with monthly utility consumption reports.
2 Florida Community Colleges Win Aspen Award
Indian River State College and Miami Dade College are the winners of the 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. The $1 million Aspen Prize recognizes institutional performance in four areas: student learning, certificate and degree completion, success after graduation in the labor market and in transfer to four-year institutions, and equity in access and success for students of color and low-income students.
Colgate U Benton Hall Earns LEED Platinum
Benton Hall features a passive house design with high-performing windows, occupancy sensors and daylight-responsive light dimming. Stone was sourced within a 500-mile radius and 75 percent of its construction waste was recycled or salvaged.
THE Releases University Impact Rankings 2019
The Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings assess universities against the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. The first edition of the ranking includes metrics based on 11 SDGs. This first edition includes more than 450 universities from 76 countries.
Rutgers U Commits $20M to Faculty Diversity
An additional $20 million on top of a 2016 commitment of $22 million has been allocated to extend the Rutgers Faculty Diversity Hiring Initiative through June 2024. Under the initiative, the university has agreed to provide half the salary support for the first three years of each newly hired faculty member’s service at Rutgers, along with additional funds to support mentoring and retention.
U California Academic Researchers to Form Union
The UC system and United Auto Workers 5810 have reached an agreement on the composition of a new collective bargaining unit covering professional researchers and other academics at UC campuses and Schools of Medicine. Once the collective bargaining has been certified, bargaining is expected to begin in early may.
Washington U St. Louis Adds 1.9 MW of Solar Energy
Construction is underway on a 1.9-megawatt solar electric project that will add arrays to six university buildings. The project is expected to be completed by the end of the fall 2019. A new interdisciplinary program allows students to use the project as a case study to learn about the business, policy and engineering aspects of the solar industry.
Brown U to Cover Textbook Cost for More Than 1,100 Students
After a successful pilot with high-need students, Brown will expand textbook and course materials program to roughly 1,100 first-year students receiving university scholarship funds and undergraduates who have a $0 parent contribution.
Georgetown U Names Smithsonian Scientist to Direct Georgetown Environment Initiative
As the new director of the Georgetown Environment Initiative, Peter Marra will help bring together students, faculty and staff across the university's campuses to contribute to Georgetown’s scholarship and outreach regarding the earth’s stewardship. Marra is the Laudato Si’ chair in Biology and the Environment, and professor in the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University.
HKUST Launches Living Lab Program With $6.7M Pledge
(Hong Kong) The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) has pledged $6.37 million ($50 million Hong Kong dollars) toward a new initiative aimed at transforming the campus into a testing ground for real-life challenges. Called the Sustainable Smart Campus as a Living Lab, nine inaugural projects were selected that will be carried out in collaboration with the sustainability office.
U Virginia Earns Tree Campus USA Recognition
The university recently earned the 2018 Tree Campus USA designation for stewarding campus trees in accordance with Tree Campus USA guidelines, which are based on five core standards for sustainable campus forest management.
U Kentucky Supports Low-Income & Minority Students
A student hunger strike will now end after the university president concluded a two-hour meeting with a coalition of student protesters who laid out a series of demands to make life better for low-income and minority students. The president agreed to cover a controversial mural at one of the university's most iconic buildings on campus that portrays black men and women planting tobacco and a Native American man holding a tomahawk. In addition to the mural, the university now commits to including a representative from the Black Student Collective on all senior-level search committees; staffing a Basic Needs Center; and establishing a Basic Needs Fund to assist those who experience food and housing insecurity.
Colgate U Invests in Carbon Offset Projects
To mitigate remaining university emissions for air and automotive travel, and energy consumption related to buildings, the university invested in a New York State landfill gas-to-energy project, a grassland carbon sequestration and conservation project, a tropical forest conservation project and a solar cookstove project in China. Additionally, the university now purchases renewable energy credits to cover 100 percent of their electricity needs. The total cost of renewable energy credits and the four offset projects for 2019 is about $61,000.
Ohio U Introduces Faculty-Led Sustainability Hubs
The new Sustainability Hubs advance initiatives in 12 thematic areas to further progress the university’s Sustainability and Climate Action Plans. The three, faculty-led hubs are the Sustainable Infrastructure Hub, focusing on buildings, energy, water and waste; the Sustainable Living Hub Coordinator concentrating on food, transportation, grounds and student affairs; and a hub focusing on climate, procurement, investments and human resources.
Five Universities Partner to Address Food, Health, Climate Change Challenges
A new partnership involving North Carolina State University, Makerere University, Gulu University and Mbarara University of Science and Technology in Uganda, and Mount Kenya University in Kenya seeks to engage students at the institutions to find solutions to persistent global challenges such as food shortages, health challenges and the effects of climate change. The partnership is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with initial support of $14 million.
U Minnesota Morris Introduces Minor in Sustainability Leadership
As part of UMN Morris's Sustainability Leaders for the Future program, which prepares students to solve environmental, social and economic challenges, the new minor aims to help students from any major develop the skills they need to grow as sustainability leaders in their personal and professional lives. The plan includes topics and activities in environmental problems and public policy; communication and the environment; political ethics; and indigenous sovereignty and federal policy.
Bowie State U STEM Research Center Earns LEED Platinum
The university's Center for Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Nursing is a 149,000-square-foot, four-floor building that features dynamic glazed windows that tint on-demand to lower energy usage and a computerized and automated ventilation system for laboratories. Sloped landscaping prevents rainwater from running off onto paved surfaces, and native deciduous shade trees in the building's plaza serve as a natural buffer from the sun's rays.
Yale U Implements Smart Irrigation Systems
Yale Grounds Maintenance implemented sprinkler and irrigation systems that use weather-based automated technology, which is controlled using a smartphone app. The app, which is connected to local meteorology forecasts, will pause if rain is predicted, thus limiting waste by complementing what is naturally occurring. In addition, lawns in four residential colleges utilize flow-sensing smart technology in order to limit excessive water use. A flow-sensing valve in the main pipe will automatically close if unusually-high water output is found.
Arizona State U Initiates Well-Being Research Center
In partnership with and funded by Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corporation (MCHC), the Global KAITEKI Center will focus on research aimed at realizing the concept of KAITEKI, that is, the sustainable well-being of people, society and planet Earth. It is an original concept of the MCHC that proposes a way forward in the sustainable development of society and the planet, and serves as a guide for solving environmental and social issues. The first four research projects, announced in early April, will be: Visualizing and Quantifying the Social Value of Future Business; Developing a Shared Roadmap for the Circular Economy in the Chemical Industry; Design, Development and Testing of Innovative Materials for Urban Cooling; and Food Waste Reduction and Well-Being for a Sustainable Future.
SUNY New Paltz Renames Six Buildings With Slavery Linkage
Following a 19-month research and investigative process, the university's College Council unanimously passed a resolution at the beginning of March 2019 to assign new names to the Hasbrouck Complex buildings, named for the original Huguenot patentees of the Village of New Paltz who also owned enslaved Africans. The selected new names carry local meaning, a theme that drew strong support from campus-wide survey responses from more than 3,000 students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members, including Huguenot descendants.
Georgia Tech Launches Master of Sustainable Energy & Environmental Mgmt
Housed in the Georgia Tech School of Public Policy, the program will begin in August 2019. Students in the program will study topics such as sustainable energy and voluntary environmental commitments, cost-benefit analysis, utility regulation and policy, Earth systems, economics of environmental policy, big data and policy analytics, climate policy, and environmental management. They also will learn analytical techniques used to estimate and evaluate sustainability metrics, be able to assess the context of energy and environmental problems, and understand environmental ethics and its implications for sustainability practice.
U North Carolina Charlotte Dining Halls Become GRA Certified
Both dining halls at the university have been certified as 3 Star Certified Green Restaurants by the Green Restaurant Association. Highlights of the certification include being polystyrene-free, and composting food waste and recycling plastics, glass, aluminum, cardboard, and paper. Rather than providing bottled water, bottle-filling stations are available. Over 40 percent of the main dishes are vegetarian.
Harvard U Business School Joins Farm Forward
Recently joining Farm Forward’s Leadership Circle, Harvard Business School has committed to buying 100 percent of its eggs—including both liquid and shell—from certified higher welfare farms aligned with Farm Forward's sourcing requirements. An impact assessment found that switching to a higher welfare products did not increase costs to Harvard Business School. The change will impact more than 15,000 hens over the next 10 years.
Miami Dade College Adjuncts Vote to Form Union
The part-time professors, who make up a majority of MDC’s total faculty, recently voted 587-to-573 in favor of forming a union with the Florida arm of the Service Employees International Union. The adjuncts hope to lobby for increased wages, health benefits and added transparency in course assignment. About 42 percent of the eligible voters casted ballots in the month-long election.