Sierra Magazine Releases 2019 Cool Schools List
Sierra's 13th annual Cool Schools ranking features 282 North American institutions, including community colleges for the second year. The annual ranking uses data from the AASHE STARS platform to assess colleges' environmental practices across a myriad of categories. Sierra's scoring system reflects the priorities of the Sierra Club.
U Maryland Signs 'Cool Food Pledge'
The pledge commits the university to reducing food-related greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2030. It is an initiative from the World Resources Institute to fight climate change and bring more sustainable food to dining halls, campus cafes and event catering.
CAS Releases Standards for Sustainability Programs
The Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS) recently announced the release of a new set of standards for sustainability programs, which delineate expectations for practitioners and educators in related functional areas and complement the recent release of the 10th edition of CAS Professional Standards for Higher Education.
25 HEIs Earn Top Spots in 2019 Sustainable Campus Index
AASHE recently released the 2019 Sustainable Campus Index, which recognizes top-performing colleges and universities in 17 sustainability impact areas and overall by institution type as measured by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). The report also includes innovative and high-impact initiatives. Top performers overall by institution type are Nova Scotia Community College (associate’s), Colby College (baccalaureate), Thompson Rivers University (master’s), and Stanford University (doctoral/research). The full list of top-performing institutions for each impact area can be found within the report.
AASHE Announces 2019 Sustainability Award Finalists
The AASHE Sustainability Awards recognize sustainability achievements, research advancements and student leadership. Across 10 categories, 40 finalists were chosen from more than 300 submissions. Winners for all categories, including the Lifetime Achievement Award, will be announced mid-September.
U London Signs 'Social Mobility Pledge'
(U.K.) The Social Mobility Pledge is a campaign to improve social mobility in the U.K. In signing the pledge, the university commits to provide coaching to people from disadvantaged backgrounds or circumstances; provide structured work experience and/or apprenticeship opportunities; and adopt employee recruitment practices that promote a level playing field for people from disadvantaged backgrounds or circumstances.
U South Florida Sarasota-Manatee Appoints DEI Officer
Corey L. Posey was recently appointed to the to the newly created position of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer at the university and began his duties on July 8. Posey has spent 19 years in higher education, most recently as director of the Office of Student Life at Chesapeake College.
EAUC Announces International Green Gown Winners
Announced in mid-July, the winners of the International Green Gown Awards are Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand) in the category of Benefitting Society; Ndejje University (Uganda) in the category of Student Engagement; and McGill University in the category of Sustainability Institution of the Year. For each category, three schools were also highly commended.
U Basque Country Creates SDG Roadmap
(Spain) The university recently launched a website that maps the university's efforts to 12 of the 17 the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and includes an additional commitment to linguistic and cultural diversity, and uses the 12+1 as a roadmap for its work. Each goal includes targets and key indicators that enable monitoring and measurement.
U Southern Denmark to Focus SDG Integration Across University
(Denmark) In mid-June, the Executive Board of the university decided that the 17 U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are to become the focal point for its work as a university. The basis of the transformation will be research and education, and will include 17 new, one-year master programs as well as integration of the SDGs in courses.
Sterling College Adopts Vision Focused on Ecological Crisis
The college's new Strategic Vision 2020-2030 names the forces causing the climate emergency and offers five overarching commitments to advance ecological thinking and action through learning. In order to hold themselves accountable, the board of trustees structure will change into five councils. Progress in fulfilling each of the five commitments
included in the strategic initiative will be assessed by these five newly established councils with membership that is composed of trustees, faculty, staff and students.
Falmouth U Declares Climate and Ecological Emergency
(U.K.) In recognition of the threat that climate change poses to the environment and communities, both locally and globally, the university hopes to galvanize its resources, research and knowledge for the protection and benefit of the planet.
Education Dept Announces 2019 Green Ribbon Schools
The U.S. Department of Education recently named the 2019 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, District Sustainability Awardees, and Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees. Across the U.S., there are 35 schools including 25 public schools, 3 magnet schools, 2 charter schools, 10 non-public schools, and four postsecondary institutions that are recognized. These honorees employ innovative practices and policies to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education.
Southern Connecticut State U Declares Climate Change Global Emergency
In response to student advocacy, the university's president, Joe Bertolino, recently declared climate change a global emergency. The emergency declaration is based on the 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report; unprecedented acceleration of atmospheric carbon levels that as of May 2019; and local community health, environmental, and economic risk.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
U Mississippi to Relocate Confederate Statue
This month, the university's Associated Student Body, Graduate Student Council, Faculty Senate and Staff Council all voted to relocate the Confederate monument to a nearby cemetery that’s also on university grounds. The administration was in agreement.
Lafayette College Trustees Approve Carbon Neutrality Plan
The recently approved plan sets the college on a path of carbon neutrality by 2035 and outlines specific steps to be investigated and implemented over a three-phase timeline. Recommendations cover the areas of energy, waste and transportation, with a focus on immediate, high-impact actions that can reduce carbon emissions and improve energy efficiency on campus.
Illinois State U Names Director of Office of Sustainability
As program director for Sustainability, effective June 3, Elisabeth Reed will be responsible for facilitating sustainability programs initiated by students, faculty and staff members; serving as advisor and fiscal agent for the Student Sustainability Committee and associated fund; reporting on the university’s efforts through STARS; and managing interns and graduate assistants who perform research or work on sustainability projects. Reed is currently an instructional assistant professor in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences.
Santa Clara U Releases Sustainability Strategic Plan
The university's new sustainability plan is a living, people-oriented plan that includes three focus areas: climate action, responsible consumption, and quality education. Additionally, the plan includes "Playbooks", which are guides for action that are based on campus roles, such as students, staff, supervisors, etc.
Higher Education Leaders Announce a Call to Action
In response to the recent scientific reports that strongly advise unprecedented action in the next decade, 21 higher education leaders announced a call to action for accelerating equitable and just climate solutions to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The declaration, which was released at the 2019 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit, provides guiding principles for higher education institutions to accelerate climate leadership and concludes with signatories' belief that leveraging their institutional strengths is critical to doing more.
U Maryland Unveils 'Do Good Accelerator' Program
The Do Good Accelerator program supports student teams by providing space and assistance to develop ventures and projects aimed both at tackling societal problems and building successful companies and nonprofits.
U Victoria Launches Campus Cycling Plan
The university's inaugural Campus Cycling Plan provides a comprehensive and coordinated approach to support cycling as a safe, enjoyable and convenient mode of transportation on campus for students, faculty, staff and visitors. It includes bicycle parking, cycling paths and end-of-trip facilities, as well as policy direction on strategies to improve levels of comfort and safety on shared paths and roads.
Three Schools Selected for Free Carbon Neutrality Program
The College of Saint Benedict, the University of Minnesota Morris and the University of St. Thomas have been selected to participate in Ever-Green Energy's pilot program: Roadmap to Carbon Neutrality. As part of this pilot program, the institutions will receive free energy and carbon neutrality planning services over the next year that will help them map out plans, evaluate feasibility and lay out next steps.
U Texas San Antonio Hires Sustainability Director
Lani May, who for the past seven months has served as the university's interim sustainability director, has been hired as the new university sustainability director. For the last nine years, May has served as a senior environmental planner in the UTSA Office of Facilities. Prior to joining UTSA, May spent more than six years as the natural resources coordinator. She earned a bachelor's degree in geography and a master’s degree in environmental science from UTSA and is currently working on her Ph.D. at UTSA in civil and environmental engineering.
CSU System Adopts Policy on Single-Use Plastics
The California State University system released a new policy on single-use plastics that aims to eliminate the distribution and sale of plastic straws, bottled water, plastic carryout bags, and styrofoam food packaging by designated phase-out dates that align with recent state legislation. Plastic straws and single-use plastic carryout bags were eliminated in January 2019. Single-use plastic water bottles are to be banned no later than Jan. 1, 2023.
Danish Academics Call for Climate Leadership
Over 650 Danish academics from multiple research fields in Denmark signed a letter at the end of 2018 calling on universities to immediately develop and implement a series of far-reaching policies to drastically reduce the universities’ carbon emissions. The letter was signed by researchers both inside and outside of climate research and has been sent to all management and boards of universities in Denmark.
Middlebury College Releases Plan for Energy, Investments & Engagement
The college's new 10-year commitment, Energy2028, puts the institution on a path toward a complete shift to renewable energy to power and heat its central campus by 2028, sets goals to reduce energy consumption, phases out direct fossil fuel investments in the endowment, and creates new educational programs and opportunities.
New England HEIs Receive $250K for Local Food Solutions
The Henry P. Kendall Foundation announced the 2018 winners of the New England Food Vision prize, a $250,000 award designed to raise awareness of the environmental, economic and health impacts of our food choices, support regional agricultural resiliency, and use the purchasing power of institutions to influence consumers. Institutions were asked to partner with a peer institution to identify collaborative solutions to offer more regionally-produced food on their menus. Five winning teams will receive a $250,000 prize to implement their proposed projects.
GreenMetric Releases 2018 Ranking
The GreenMetric World University Ranking, administered by the University of Indonesia, recently released its sustainability ranking for 719 universities participating from 81 countries. The information is organized under six main categories: Settings and Infrastructure, Energy and Climate Change, Waste, Water, Transportation, and Education and Research.
AASHE Releases 2018 Annual Report
AASHE recently released a report detailing its accomplishments and progress throughout 2018. It spotlights STARS, educational and professional development opportunities, the Sustainability Awards, the conference and expo, and outreach and advocacy. The report also includes information about new initiatives: AASHE Connect–an online community for members, AASHE’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion statement, and a partnership with Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability (ACTS) to advance STARS.
Grand Valley State U Names New Sustainability Director
Beginning January 1, Yumiko Jakobcic, who served as campus sustainability coordinator since 2014, assumed the role of director of the university's Office of Sustainability Practices. Jakobcic earned a bachelor's degree in natural resources management from Grand Valley in 2006 and a master's degree in environmental management from Duke University. She is in the process of earning a doctoral degree in natural resources from the University of Vermont.
AASHE Adopts Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Statement
Developed over the course of a year with input from the Advisory Council and board of directors, the new Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) statement reaffirms AASHE's resolve to advancing DEI as a core value. As a result, AASHE will be providing DEI training for AASHE staff, offering professional development opportunities for members, and continuing to emphasize equity and social justice throughout AASHE programs and partnerships.
Delta College & U Illinois Urbana-Champaign Win Climate Leadership Award
Second Nature, in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), recently announced the winners of the Climate Leadership Award. Delta College was recognized for implementation of an Energy Optimization Incentive Program in collaboration with its utility provider, as well as a sustainability-immersive study abroad program, and climate adaptation and resilience learning sessions. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was honored for using power purchase agreements to reduce more than 17,000 metric tons of CO2 annually, creating a task force to address climate resilience concerns, and enhancing classroom learning through a sustainability mentorship program. Six institutions received honorable mention.
Georgetown U Creates Faculty Research Collaboration
The Georgetown Global Cities Initiative is a network of university faculty and students who share ideas and research on global urbanization. It includes about 70 Georgetown faculty from disparate disciplines who work on the relationship between cities and climate change; governance and diplomacy; history and the humanities; health; sociology; digitization; infrastructure and numerous other issues.
TIAA Difference Maker 100 Honors Florida State U & Lehman College Staff
The TIAA Difference Maker 100 recognizes people who devote their lives to improving the world and shaping a better future. Of the 100 people recognized, Elizabeth Swiman at Florida State University was honored for her work creating a food recovery program that resulted in 40,000 pounds of donated meals, a recycling project that has collected 100-plus tons of recyclables and a low-cost bike initiative for students. Eva Bornstein at Lehman College was recognized for creating culturally engaging performances for underserved audiences at Lehman Center for the Performing Arts in the Bronx. Those recognized will receive $10,000 to help support the organization where they are making a difference.
Big Tent Consortium Calls for Higher Ed Action on SDGs
The Big Tent Consortium, a global network of universities and their community partners, has issued a declaration and call to action to its members to commit to collaboration, cooperation and action on the Sustainable Development Goals. The Big Tent Consortium is composed by The Talloires Network, the Global University Network for Innovation and the UNESCO Chair in Community Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education.
U Alabama Birmingham Releases 6-Year Sustainability Plan
The new Sustainability Strategic Plan outlines the goals and strategies for 13 different objective areas targeting the university’s academic and medical campus. The plan commits the university to acquire 20 percent of the university’s energy needs from renewable sources of power and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2025.