U Michigan Students Unveil Straw-Bale House at Campus Farm
A University of Michigan green building class recently unveiled an off-grid straw-bale house. The team of about 20 students built the house using sustainable building techniques and installed a 1.5 kilowatt solar electric array attached to eight golf cart batteries.
Indiana State U Rolls Out Bike-Share Option
For Earth Day, the Office of Sustainability launched a new bike-share pilot program with Spin by placing 100 bikes across campus. Bikes can be used for $0.50 every half-hour or unlimited 30-minute rides for $14 per month.
Penn State U University Park Reduces Plastic Bag Use
A new program called EcoCoin aiming to reduce the number of plastic bags used at the Penn State Bookstore give customers the option to take a plastic bag or receive an EcoCoin. Customers can then place the EcoCoin into one of three boxes, each one representing a student philanthropy organization engaged in social impact for sustainable development. Each EcoCoin represents a 5-cent donation. On top of the total amount collected through EcoCoins, the Penn State Bookstore will contribute $500 per semester to each organization.
U Virginia Students Pledge a Balloon-Free Graduation
A new pledge from the Office for Sustainability and Green Greeks is challenging the long-standing tradition of graduates letting balloons go during their graduation ceremony. The balloon-free pledge was introduced for the first time this year as a mental reminder to students to consider the consequences of using balloons. Instead of balloons, other more environmentally-friendly methods of celebration were suggested for graduation by the Green Greeks, such as bubble blowers or garden spinners.
SUNY New Paltz Creates Two Faculty Sustainability Funds
The two new funds are the Campus Auxiliary Services Sustainability Endowment Fund, and the Campus Auxiliary Services Sustainability Expendable Fund. The overall purpose of both funds is to empower New Paltz faculty members to develop course curricula that include sustainable lessons and activities that draw on the rich agricultural resources and infrastructure of the Hudson Valley.
U Connecticut Expands Park Built on Landfill
The Hillside Environmental Education Park opened in 2008, following the remediation and closure of the former UComm landfill, which dates back at least 50 years. The park was recently expanded with the addition of land, trails, and more than a dozen trailhead and interpretive signs. The park is now 165 acres and includes three miles of trails through uplands, wetlands, meadows and woodlands.
Texas A&M International U to Save $15M Through Energy Efficiency Project
The university recently announced it has started construction on a $9.7 million, comprehensive campus-wide energy-efficiency project that will streamline facility operations and encourage sustainable behavior. The energy savings performance contract guarantees nearly $15 million in energy savings over the life of the project. Savings will come from improving the university’s irrigation system, interior and exterior LED lighting upgrades with occupancy sensors and automated dimming controls, and utility meter upgrades with user-friendly energy dashboards. Construction is underway and expected to be complete by fall 2019.
Rice U Collaborates to Restore Native Habitat
The university's Arboretum Committee, an Ecology and Evolutionary Biology class, and several community partners collaborated to plant an urban prairie on campus that will help retain flood water, sequester carbon and sustain a variety of native species.
American College Greece Launches Sustainable Events Guidelines
(Greece) The college's Center of Excellence for Sustainability recently launched the Sustainable Events Guidelines in an effort to help reduce the environmental and financial costs of events. The guidelines include key performance indicators that focus on policy, catering, energy, and materials and waste.
U Illinois Urbana-Champaign Announces Inaugural Campus as Lab Seed Funding
Launched in February 2018, the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment's (iSEE) Campus as a Living Lab program is designed to link campus sustainability targets to national and global sustainability, energy and environment challenges. Inaugural funding is going to two research projects: a study to examine redirecting waste heat from industrial processes using a thermochemical battery, and testing a no-waste system for turning food scraps into biofuel while also treating wastewater and creating natural fertilizers. Funding covers startup costs for the researchers to prepare larger proposals for substantial external funding.
St. John's U Students Introduce Bike-Share Program
Two students introduced Johnnie Bennie Bikes to campus, which provides 12 bikes available for use between St. John's University and the College of St. Benedict. The bikes are available for six-hour stretches, 24/7. The university's Outdoor Leadership Center is in charge of the bikes.
Wesleyan U Offers Bike Sharing Service
In mid-April, the university placed 100 orange bikes on campus through a company called Spin, a bike sharing program that allows students to use the bikes for a small fee. The system works with an app that allows registered users to scan a QR code on any bike, which unlocks the bike for use. In the first seven days, nearly 1,000 individuals used the bikes for 2,082 total trips.
Southern Oregon U Implements Meatless Monday
In celebration of Earth Day, the university recently implemented quarterly Meatless Mondays in its main dining hall with hopes to expand the program on a monthly or weekly basis pending student feedback. The meatless proposal was headed by the Ecology and Sustainability Resource Center (ECOS,) who helped with advertising the event and demonstrating the pros and cons of meat consumption.
U Maryland Students Develop Educational Recycling App
In an effort to reduce contamination in recycling and compost bins, three university students created an app, Recyclify, that teaches users how to properly separate their waste. The app provides users with a full list of recyclable and compostable items from each restaurant at the food court. It tracks students' recycling behavior and awards points that are redeemable for discounts at certain restaurants.
U Maryland Pilots Compostable Paper Straws
During the month of April, the Maryland Dairy at the Stamp Student Union piloted using compostable paper straws. The pilot program was initiated by the general manager and supported by the student-led group Sustainable Ocean Alliance.
U Maryland Installs Wall of Plants in Library
In an effort to inspire creativity and support well-being, living plants now cover the surface of an interior wall at the university's McKeldin Library as part of a series of renovations to the library’s busy first floor. The bio-wall project was partially funded by students through the University Sustainability Fund.
Loyola U Maryland Joins Beyond Benign Green Chemistry Program
Challenged to join the program by John Warner, Ph.D., founder of Beyond Benign, Loyola’s department of Chemistry recently signed up for Beyond Benign’s Green Chemistry Commitment program, which commits the department to incorporating green chemistry into the curriculum.
Keene State College Students Organize On-Campus Food Bank
When students from two campus organizations learned last semester that food insecurity is a problem for some Keene State students, they secured a location for a new pantry, the Hungry Owl, and launched a nonperishable-food drive. The space has a fully operational kitchen in which organizers hope to add services like cooking nights or providing recipes or assembling pre-made meals.
UK's National Union of Students Awards $140K to Student Projects
(U.K.) The National Union of Students' (NUS) Student Eats Program recently awarded over $138,000 (100,000 British pounds) to projects at nine universities in an effort to help scale-up programs that help students to grow food and develop food-based social enterprises.
Bowdoin College Achieves Carbon Neutrality
Two years ahead of schedule, the college has achieved carbon neutrality through a variety of campus energy projects, campus engagement, regional carbon offsets and renewable energy credits, with additional contributions from changes to the Maine electrical grid. The college has reduced its on-site carbon emissions by 29 percent compared to a 2008 baseline.
U North Carolina Wilmington Student Creates Wellness Campaign
UNCW sophomore Victoria Rause founded a new student organization called PERK, People Encouraging Random Kindness, that seeks to help students cope with stress by doing encouraging things for fellow students, like distributing notecards with nice thoughts written on them or passing out candy, all while teaching students to look for opportunities to promote kindness and rethink the way they view their perceived obstacles.
Eastern Kentucky U Introduces Dockless Bike-Share System
Designed to help students get around the Richmond campus, the university recently contracted with LimeBike to introduce 100 brightly painted green and yellow bicycles at no cost to the university, with plans to increase the fleet to 250 in the upcoming weeks.
Cornell U Promotes Climate Literacy for Staff
Members of the university's Employee Assembly voted earlier this month to support staff involvement and participation in campus climate change literacy policy and programs, in an effort to ensure the success of the Climate Action Plan. Highlighting the scientific consensus of global climate change, the resolution notes the impact of climate change on employee happiness and well-being. Climate change literacy was defined in the resolution as an understanding of an individual’s influence on climate and climate’s influence on individuals.
California State U System Creates Healthy Food Working Group
In an effort to offer healthier food options on campus for students, the California State Universities' Food Systems Working Group convened had its inaugural meeting in March. The meeting was attended by students, professors, technical experts, dining management staff, food producers and administrators from all 23 campuses and their respective communities. Their goal is to get more real food, defined as local- and community-based, fair trade, ecologically sound and humane, on CSU campuses.
Ball State U Students Create SGA Green Council
The Student Government Association voted recently to add a green council to its senate. This council will bring together environmentally-focused student organizations to collaborate on improving campus sustainability.
U Virginia Tests Compostable Bed Linens for Orientation
The university recently used compostable sheets and pillowcases for overnight freshman orientations. The material is made from plants and is chemical-free, hypoallergenic and USDA Certified Bio-Based. A local composting business that picks up the university's food scraps will also take the bedding and compost it, returning a portion of the resulting compost back to UVA for use in their campus garden.
St. Lawrence U Publishes Campus Sustainability Map
The intention of the new map application is to provide the university community with information and locations related to sustainability points of interest on the main campus. The map allows viewers to navigate different layers of sustainability on campus ranging from where to bring organic waste to locations with renewable energy to information about outdoor air quality.
U Florida Launches Center for Public Interest Communications
The center is dedicated to developing, translating and applying the science of strategic communication to drive social change. Among other things, the center will promote scholarship that can advance the practice of public interest communications and will create undergraduate and graduate curricula for adoption by other institutions. The university's College of Journalism and Communications has also launched the Journal for Public Interest Communications, an open-access academic journal devoted to this emerging field.
U Virginia Launches 'Shut the Sash' Competition
In late 2017, the university launched its first “Shut the Sash” competition to encourage safer, more efficient working standards under chemical fume hoods. Competition participants earned points by answering educational questions, watching videos on sustainable research practices, and submitting before and after photos of fume hoods.
U Colorado Boulder to Assist City With Climate Justice & Conservation Work
CU Boulder's Foundations for Leaders Organizing for Water and Sustainability (FLOWS) program will work with the city of Longmont on a pilot project to help train Longmont employees and community members on climate justice, and energy and water conservation work. With a $15,000 Boulder County sustainability grant, the project will involve program development, community engagement, staff and resident training, supplies, equipment and evaluation, in addition to providing workforce development opportunities for underrepresented communities.
Eight Hong Kong Institutions Launch 'Skip the Straw' Initiative
(Hong Kong) The City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Baptist University, Lingnan University, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, The Education University of Hong Kong, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and The University of Hong Kong aim to reduce plastic waste by introducing regular awareness campaigns and no straw days or implementing a campus-wide ban of plastic straws.
Chalmers Tech & U Gothenburg Strengthen Collaboration Toward Sustainable Development
(Sweden) Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg have signed an agreement that reorganizes a long-standing sustainability collaboration between the two schools. The Gothenburg Center for Sustainable Development is organized directly under the two universities and aims to create strategic cooperation both internally and with various external partners. It will continue to serve as a forum for various areas of expertise and a platform for projects, initiatives and networks.
U Kentucky Offers Commute Planning Assistance
In an effort to increase the number of campus community members using alternative modes of transportation, the university's Transportation Services now offers free personalized commute planning assistance.
Radford U Begins Bags for Benches Program
The university's student government association and sustainability office have partnered to collect unwanted plastic bags. The bags will be mailed to an outdoor decking and furniture company to be recycled into benches that will be placed around campus.
George Washington U Announces a Sustainable Investment Fund
The Sustainable Investment Fund is a Student Association-driven initiative focused on responsible investment and student engagement. GW will establish the fund with an initial $2 million from the university endowment and aim to engage stakeholders on issues relevant to responsible investing, including promoting and producing innovation in sustainable practices and seeking to avoid investments in the top coal, oil and gas companies.
Webster U to Offer Bike-Share Service
The university will roll out a bike-share service to campus in March that will be free for short, two-hour trips and have a nominal cost for longer trips.
U New Hampshire Appoints Professors of Practice in Sustainable Food Systems
In early February, the university named Curtis Ogden and Karen Spiller joint recipients of the Thomas W. Haas Professorship in Sustainable Food Systems, which was established in 2013 to deepen the ties between the university and the New England food system. Ogden and Spiller’s primary responsibility will be to connect the transdisciplinary work of Food Solutions New England, and in particular its racial equity work, to students, faculty and staff at UNH through lectures, workshops and collaborative scholarship.
University of Maryland Green Terp Program Expands to 13 Residence Halls
The Office of Sustainability and the Department of Resident Life partnered to expand a one-year-old pilot program, Green Terps, into 13 dorms. The Green Terps program helps students adopt sustainable practices by asking them to pick 10 different sustainable behaviors and submit their progress. Once completed, their name is written on a pledge board in the lobby of their dorm.
U Illinois Urbana-Champaign Launches Campus as Lab Seed Funding Program
The Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE) at the university recently announced that it will provide seed funding for faculty members to assist in preparing a proposal for external funding that will include using campus sustainability features and projects in their research related to sustainability. Specifically, iSEE wants to leverage this seed money to attract external funds that are relevant to objectives from the Illinois Climate Action Plan.
Appalachian State U Connects Outdoor Solar Charging Tables
Solar-powered picnic tables were installed outside of the university's College of Business. A gift from the Appalachian State University Renewable Energy Initiative, a student-led, student-funded organization that installs renewable energy and energy efficiency projects on campus, the three tables feature wireless charging, USB ports and regular outlets.
Ohio Wesleyan U Adopts Sustainability Plan
The university's new sustainability plan was seeded by student research on sustainability initiatives at the university. It contains four overarching goals, each of which contains measurable objectives.
U California Merced Releases Sustainability Plan
The university's new strategic sustainability plan highlights campus sustainability goals through 2022 and defines the roles of campus stakeholders. It was designed as a living document that will be reviewed at least annually, with a progress report that outlines accomplishments distributed each spring. Designed as a living document, it covers academics, research, engagement and operations, all of which have action items, metrics and implementation strategies.
AASCU Announces Program to Assess Political Learning & Engagement
The American Democracy Project (ADP), a program of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), recently announced a new two-year initiative to work with 12 AASCU campuses over two years to pilot processes for engaging campus communities in measuring, understanding and improving campus climates in order to prepare students to be informed, engaged citizens.
College William & Mary Installs Water Bottle Filling Stations
Under a new plan, W&M and the student group Take Back the Tap are working together to install water bottle filling stations in every high-traffic building on campus. New buildings and major renovations on campus now include a requirement for at least one bottle-filling station. Currently there are 52 filling stations on the W&M campus and three at W&M’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science.
Harvard U Announces Fossil-Free Climate Action Plan
Recommendations from a climate change task force informed a new set of climate commitments that the university recently adopted - a long-term goal of being fossil fuel-free by 2050 and a short-term goal of climate neutrality by 2026.