Sierra Magazine Releases Annual Cool Schools List
In 2017, Sierra magazine ranked 227 institutions based on information about their environmental practices in food and transportation systems, water and waste management, purchasing procedures, academics, investments and more. Participation in the Cool Schools ranking was open to all four-year undergraduate colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada.
Northwest Missouri State U and SUNY Oswego Win Sustainability Awards from AASCU
Northwest Missouri State University and the State University of New York Oswego won the American Association of State Colleges and Universities' (AASCU) Sustainability and Sustainable Development Award. The program honors member institutions for excellence and innovation in sustainability. Northwest Missouri State was cited for its Comprehensive Sustainability System, which has produced $15.4 million in energy savings, and SUNY Oswego's BikeShare and BusShare projects were highlighted.
Winona State U Hires First Sustainability Director
Nathan Engstrom will be directly responsible for collecting and analyzing data, developing implementation strategies, overseeing and assessing progress towards established metrics and standards, and reporting to all constituent groups on campus. Engstrom, who previously served as regional sustainability coordinator at Northland College, has a master’s degree in sustainable design from The University of Texas at Austin and a bachelor’s degree in sociology and environmental studies from Northland College.
Duke U, Unity College & U Texas Austin Win Top Honors for Dining Practices
The National Association of College and University Food Services (NACUFS) Sustainability Awards recognize and honor institutions that have demonstrated outstanding leadership in the promotion and implementation of environmental sustainability in campus dining operations. The 2017 grand prize winner is Unity College, who also won top honors in the Waste Management category followed by Oregon State University and Georgia State University, respectively. The first, second and third place winners in Outreach and Education are respectively University of Texas at Austin, University of Massachusetts Amherst and College of Saint Benedict. In the Procurement Practices category, Duke University, University of Montana and Purdue University ranked first, second and third place respectively.
AASHE Announces Sustainability Award Finalists
The AASHE Sustainability Awards recognize sustainability achievements, research advancements and student leadership. This year, there were 35 finalists chosen across 10 categories. Entries were judged on overall impact, innovation and other criteria specific to each category. Winners will be announced during a special ceremony on Oct. 15 at the 2017 AASHE Conference & Expo.
Indiana U Purdue U Indianapolis Earns Bee Campus Designation
The university recently obtained Bee Campus USA certification for its activities designed to support pollinators. The designation was announced during the university's second year participating in Pollinator Count Week, a Keep Indianapolis Beautiful event that seeks to take inventory of pollinators and raise awareness of their role in the human food system.
Cornell U Ends Licensing Contract With Nike Over Labor Agreement
Cornell University has notified apparel-maker Nike and Branded Custom Sportswear, Nike’s exclusive licensee for collegiate apparel, that Cornell is ending its licensing relationship with them. Neither company is willing to sign a standard contract through IMG Collegiate Licensing, Cornell's licensing agent, attesting that they will follow a labor code of conduct vetted by Cornell and peer institutions.
U Maryland to Complete 2 MW Photovoltaic Project
Three soon-to-be-completed solar canopies, totaling 2.17 megawatts, will help the campus exceed its on-campus renewable energy goal of generating 2.7 megawatts of solar power for university facilities by 2018. The solar canopies are a part of the President's Purchased Power Initiative, which aims to ensure 100 percent of purchased power comes from renewable sources by 2020.
Indiana State U Hires Sustainability Coordinator
Nick McCreary has been hired to lead the university's Institute for Community Sustainability. He served as the sustainability coordinator at Saint Louis University while working on his master's degree in sustainability.
Swarthmore College Plus Three More Win the 'Sustainable Campus Excellence Award'
The International Sustainable Campus Network has bestowed the Sustainable Campus Excellence Award to four campuses. Chiba University (Japan) claimed the Student Leadership Award; National University of Singapore (Singapore) was honored with the Building and Innovative Infrastructure Award; Swarthmore College received the Innovative Collaboration Award; and the University of Applied Sciences Trier (Germany) earned the Campus Planning and Management Systems Award.
AASHE Receives Award for Exemplary Workplace Practices
AASHE was recently given the prestigious When Work Works Award, part of the Society for Human Resource Management’s When Work Works project, a national initiative that helps employers become more successful by transforming the way they view and adopt effective and flexible workplaces. AASHE was evaluated on factors associated with employee health, well-being and engagement; opportunities for learning; a culture of trust; work-life fit; supervisor support for work success; autonomy; and satisfaction with earnings, benefits and opportunities for advancement.
GSA Announces 'Environmental Innovators of the Year' Award Winners
The Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis received Environmental Innovator of the Year from Green Sports Alliance for converting one of its athletic facilities to zero waste, while Oregon State University won the award for creating a sustainability team of athletes that educate fans on recycling, seek to compost all team meals and install light timers on electronics to save energy.
NC BOG Attempts to Ban Students From Practicing Litigation in Law School
The North Carolina Board of Governors has proposed a ban on litigation efforts by the UNC Center for Civil Rights at the law school of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which takes on legal cases of school desegregation, fair housing and environmental justice for poor and minority clients. Several board members want to prohibit the center from filing legal claims and lawsuits, saying it is inappropriate for the center to represent clients in court against other government entities. Some UNC and N.C. Central University law school leaders say barring the centers and clinics from engaging in legal action would effectively end those student training opportunities, potentially leading to questions from the American Bar Association.
Purdue U, St. John's U & Towson U Win RecycleMania's 2017 Campus Engagement Case Study Competition
Purdue University won the Waste Minimization category; St. John's University won the Food Waste Reduction category; and Towson University won the Education and Awareness Campaign category. Unlike traditional RecycleMania categories that rank based on recycling, food waste or trash weights, this is a judged competition that recognizes schools based on the creativity and impact of their efforts. North Lake College and Stanford University won honorable mention.
Haverford College Requests Suppliers Use Pallets Made From Paper
Seeking innovative ways to reduce their carbon footprint, the college recently sent a letter to all its suppliers asking for deliveries to campus to be made on lightweight, recyclable corrugated paper shipping pallets. Haverford's initiative comes one year after Change the Pallet wrote to the presidents of more than 300 U.S. colleges and universities. The letter calls on colleges to use their buying power to encourage or require suppliers to ship to campuses on corrugated pallets to further reduce emissions and waste.
East Carolina U Receives Tree Campus USA Designation
The university has officially earned the Tree Campus USA designation by the National Arbor Day Foundation for the first time in university history. University staff worked over the past year to meet Tree Campus USA standards, which include having a Campus Tree Advisory Committee and a tree care plan.
U Virginia to Commemorate Slaves Who Built Campus
The university is planning to build a large memorial to commemorate the contributions of an estimated 5,000 enslaved people who helped build and maintain the school. With recent Board of Visitor approval, private fundraising for the project will begin immediately. This project is part of the UVA's President’s Commission on Slavery and the University.
Georgetown U Approves New Socially Responsible Investing Policy
The new policy, approved by the university board of directors, further aligns the university’s investment strategy with its commitment to social justice, protection of human life and dignity, stewardship for the planet and promotion of the common good. The new policy was developed by the board working group on socially responsible investments, which was formed in 2015 following the board’s decision to divest from direct investments in companies whose principal business is the mining of coal for use in energy production.
U Pennsylvania Wins 2017 Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Award
The University of Pennsylvania won the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council's (SPLC) 2017 Supplier Engagement Award for its collaboration with a local enterprise, Wash Cycle Laundry, to create local jobs, foster the growth of an innovative local business, and reduce the environmental impact of the university’s laundry services. In total, the SPLC recognized ten organizations and one individual for their leadership in the sustainable purchasing movement.
Pennsylvania State U Earns Tree Campus Designation
The university's new designation as a Tree Campus, a program of Arbor Day Foundation, recognizes its commitment to effective urban forest management and for engaging staff and students in conservation goals. The university currently has more than 17,000 trees in its canopy.
U Adelaide Announces Multi-Million Dollar Sustainability Plan
(Australia) The university's new Campus Sustainability Plan earmarks 14.4 million Australian dollars ($10.7 million) over four years to sustainability, with more than AU$12.8 million dedicated to carbon emissions reduction projects at the university's three campuses. While the university's goal is net zero emissions by 2050, its interim 2020 goals include two megawatts of installed solar, a 15 percent improvement in energy performance and a 50 percent reduction in waste to landfill.
Education Dept Announces '2017 Green Ribbon Schools' Recipients
Nine post-secondary institutions were among 63 honorees nationally to receive the U.S. Department of Education's Green Ribbon Schools award, an awards program that acknowledges a commitment to sustainable practices among schools, districts and institutions of higher education. Recipients of the award demonstrated leadership across three pillars: reduced environmental impact and costs, improved health and wellness, and effective environmental and sustainability education.
West Virginia State U to Sue Dow Chemical for Polluting Groundwater
The university announced in early May that it is pursuing litigation against Dow Chemical Company, among others, for contaminating the groundwater under the university’s campus. Though the pollution does not pose a direct threat to anyone on campus, the university says the company should be responsible for cleanup of the contaminants.
Pennsylvania State U Names Chief Sustainability Officer
Paul Shrivastava, recent executive director of Future Earth, a global environmental change research program, and researcher in the fields of sustainability, risk and crisis management, has been named the university’s chief sustainability officer and director of the Penn State Sustainability Institute. Shrivastava received his doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh.
Dartmouth College Sets Goals for Low-Carbon Future
Dartmouth’s president has announced new principles, standards and commitments in the areas of energy, waste and materials, water, food, transportation, and landscape and ecology. Based on a report developed by the Sustainability Task Force, these commitments include a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from campus operations by 50 percent by 2025, and by 80 percent by 2050.
Columbia U Releases First Sustainability Plan
The university's inaugural Sustainability Plan, released for Earth Day 2017, is its first formalized document bringing together sustainability efforts. It is the result of a 16-month focused collaboration with students, faculty, administrators and scientists working across departments to create a three-year, operations-focused roadmap to a more sustainable campus. The plan’s overarching goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 35 percent in the next three years through focusing on energy use and conservation, transportation and waste management.
U Virginia Launches Nitrogen Footprint Tool Network
The University of Virginia, along with Brown University, Colorado College, Colorado State University, Dickinson College, Eastern Mennonite University, Marine Biological Laboratory and the University of New Hampshire, has launched the Nitrogen Footprint Tool Network, a group of higher education institutions that are measuring and attempting to reduce their output of reactive nitrogen. The Nitrogen Footprint Tool Network is working with the University of New Hampshire Sustainability Institute to build the nitrogen footprint tool into the Campus Carbon Calculator.
U Virginia to Publish Greenhouse Gas Action Plan
The soon-to-be released Greenhouse Gas Action Plan seeks to shift energy generation and distribution to renewable energy sources, employ conservation measures in existing buildings, increase energy efficiency in labs, employ sustainable building standards in new construction and major renovations, improve efficiencies in transportation and promote awareness of individual actions.
U Maryland Approves Carbon Neutral Air Travel Initiative
The university president recently approved a strategy to offset the greenhouse gases caused by university-related student, faculty and staff air travel, which have increased 52 percent over the past decade and now account for 20 percent of the university's carbon footprint. The goal is to completely and permanently eliminate the university air travel carbon footprint, likely through the purchase of carbon offsets at a cost of approximately $5 for each domestic trip.
Georgia Tech Publishes Inaugural Strategic Sustainability Plan
The new Strategic Plan for Sustainable Practice lays out the long-term vision and goals that will guide energy and emissions, water resource use, materials management, the built environment and community engagement on campus for the next 10 years.
EAUC Announces International Green Gown Award Winners
The International Green Gown Awards, administered by the Environmental Association of Colleges and Universities (EAUC), announced the 2017 winners, who were selected by an international panel of judges. The University of the West of England, Bristol (U.K.) won the Continuous Improvement: Institutional Change category; Fiji National University, (Fiji) won in the Community category; and University of West of England, Bristol and University of Bristol (U.K.) won in the Student Engagement category. Winners of the regional Green Gown Awards competed internationally for top international honors.
U Wisconsin-Stevens Point Introduces Educational Sustainability Doctoral Program
The new doctoral program in Educational Sustainability is designed to challenge students to educate for sustainability, by understanding and responding to problems in economic, ecological and social justice contexts. Sustainability learning and leadership theories are used to enable graduates to transform educational systems and foster citizen engagement.
AASHE Endorses March for Science
AASHE joins hundreds of other organizations supporting the March for Science, happening on Earth Day, April 22, in Washington, D.C., and at satellite marches around the globe. The March for Science aims to unite as a diverse, nonpartisan group to call for science that upholds the common good and for political leaders and policymakers to enact evidence based policies in the public interest.
U Arizona Publishes Online Campus Sustainability Map
More than 600 projects, programs and features are presented on the university's new web-based map. Launched to illustrate campus-wide sustainability efforts in an accessible and centralized way, the map visualizes efforts meant to reduce energy and water consumption, and aid in waste diversion and recycling.
MIT Creates Sustainability Incubator Fund
The new Campus Sustainability Incubator Fund seeks to enable MIT community members to use the MIT campus as a test bed for research in sustainable operations, management and design. It is intended to support the generation of breakthrough sustainability solutions.
U Michigan Launches Three Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Initiatives
As part of its ongoing strategic efforts to enhance diversity in higher education and society, the university's National Center for Institutional Diversity is starting the Distinguished Diversity and Social Transformation Professorship, Grants to Support Research and Scholarship for Change, and the Distinguished Diversity Scholar Career Award and initiatives. Through these initiatives, the center is actively working to highlight the interconnections of diversity and excellence in research and scholarship in ways that positively affect knowledge production and its use for societal change.
Three Higher Ed Groups to Implement Open Access Initiative
The Association of American Universities, Association of Research Libraries, and Association of American University Presses are implementing a new initiative, expected to launch spring 2017, to advance the wide dissemination of scholarship by humanities and humanistic social sciences faculty members by publishing free, open access, digital editions of peer-reviewed and professionally edited monographs. To date, there are 12 institutions that have committed to participate in this initiative.
U Bristol Announces Fossil Fuel Divestment & Carbon Reduction Plans
(U.K.): The university's board of trustees has agreed to end investment in companies that derive more than five per cent of turnover from the extraction of thermal coal or oil and gas from tar sands by January 2018, and actively manage other areas of its portfolio of energy investments, including those in oil and gas, to achieve a material reduction in carbon emissions from these investments. This will include investing in companies at the leading edge of carbon management and in companies with strong, deliverable commitments to improving their carbon efficiency, as well as a greater investment focus on non-fossil fuel energy providers.
Kings College London Commits to Fossil Fuel Divestment
(U.K.): Sharing concern with the Students' Union about the dangers of human-induced climate change, the college recently committed to divest from all fossil fuels by the end of the year 2022, to be carbon neutral by 2025, and to increase its commitment to investments with socially responsible benefits from the present goal of 15 percent to an aspiration of at least 40 percent by 2025. With this agreement, the direct action campaign that called on the college to divest from fossil fuels drew to a close.
Smith College Releases New Climate Action Plan
Smith College's Study Group on Climate Change presented the results of their yearlong study to the college's board of trustees recently, which recommended the college take a comprehensive approach to climate action in five areas: academic, campus programming, campus operations, investments and institutional change. The report also supports specific targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and a focus on climate justice, including a yearlong initiative on women and climate change.
Simon Fraser U Releases 20-Year Sustainability Vision & Goals
Following a year-long community-wide envisioning process, the university released its finalized 20-Year Sustainability Vision and Goals. The vision and goals will lay the foundation for the university's next five-year sustainability strategic plan. Goal topics include sustainability literacy, waste, transportation, curriculum, community engagement, accessibility and collaboration.
Indiana U Bloomington Faculty Approve Open Access Policy
The Bloomington Faculty Council unanimously approved an open access policy recently that ensures that faculty scholarship will be accessible and available to the public for future generations. Adopting the policy reduces barriers to research and learning by making research available on the public internet to be downloaded and shared freely, making it possible for scholarship to be more widely read and cited than literature that appears in closed-access, licensed journal databases.
Yale U Graduate Students Vote to Unionize
Becoming the latest group of graduate students at private universities to unionize since the National Labor Relations Board ruled last summer that graduate students are employees, teaching assistants from eight of nine departments at Yale University voted Thursday to join UNITE HERE. The teaching assistants are seeking funding security, mental health care, affordable child care, equitable pay and parity for marginalized communities in academia.
Eastern Kentucky U Sets 2036 Carbon Neutrality Goal
The university recently completed a comprehensive Climate Action and Resiliency Plan to strategically and economically reduce its carbon footprint to zero by 2036. The plan calls for the university to reach its goal via a variety of mitigation strategies, including implementation of geothermal heating/cooling throughout campus, improvements in central plant and building efficiencies, greater efficiencies in steam and chilled water, energy efficiency guidelines for new buildings, the purchase of renewable energy credits and carbon offsets and reduction in water consumption.
U British Columbia Starts $10M Sustainability Investment Fund
Donors now have the option to give to the university's new Sustainable Future Fund, a fund for low-carbon emission and high environmental, social and governance equity funds. Seeded with $10 million, the fund was launched as a result of a responsible investment policy for its endowment, approved by the university's board of governors in 2015.
Big Tent Consortium Issues Travel Ban Call to Action
The Big Tent Consortium, a global network of universities and their community partners, have issued a call to action to its members to oppose the Jan. 27 U.S. travel ban, join with other worldwide protests, and create spaces for dialogue within universities and communities everywhere to combat alleged growing Islamophobia and exclusionary trends around the world.