U Southern California Expands Sustainability Across Curriculum

After a recent university survey revealed that USC students are overwhelmingly interested in sustainability, the university announced a major expansion to its undergraduate curriculum. The new Sustainability Across the Curriculum program aims to educate the university’s 20,000 undergraduate students in how sustainability intersects with their major field of study.

MIT Unveils Climate Action Plan

The new plan commits MIT to net-zero direct carbon emissions by 2026. Five broad areas frame the university's action plan: sparking innovation, educating future generations, informing and leveraging government action, reducing MIT’s own climate impact, and uniting and coordinating all of MIT’s climate efforts.

American U Releases Sustainability Plan

The new five-year plan covers three sections—engagement, environment, administration—and includes 45 new goals written by the Sustainability Advisory Committee and the Office of Sustainability.

U North Carolina Chapel Hill Receives $1M for 'Champion Sustainability Fund'

A new partnership between the university and Champion Athleticwear will launch the Champion Sustainability Fund with a $1 million investment from Champion. Once operational, the revolving fund will support several new programs, including the Champion Sustainability Research Accelerator, which will award $50,000 annually to Carolina faculty whose research programs are poised to improve sustainability and environmental outcomes, and the Sustainable Carolina Opportunity Fund, which will provide seed funding for scalable opportunities to advance sustainability.

THE Releases 2021 Impact Rankings

The Times Higher Education (THE) University Impact Rankings assess universities on their contributions to the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. The 2021 ranking includes 1,115 universities from 94 countries/regions. The overall ranking is led by the University of Manchester (U.K.), followed by three Australian universities–University of Sydney, RMIT University and La Trobe University, and then Queen's University in Canada.

ISCN Announces 2021 Award Winners

The International Sustainable Campus Network (ISCN) recently announced the 2021 Excellence Award winners, which seek to recognize sustainable campus projects that demonstrate leadership, creativity, effectiveness and outstanding performance. Covenant University won the award for Whole Systems Approach; University of Leeds received the award in the Partnerships for Progress category, and National University of Singapore was selected for the award in Cultural Change for Sustainability.

75 HEIs Urge Biden Administration to Support a 2030 US Climate Target

Second Nature recently sent a letter to the White House signed by 75 higher education institutions calling on the Biden-Harris Administration to adopt a target of at least 50 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. The 75 institutions span 29 different states, in all regions of the U.S., and represent a wide diversity of institution types.

Vanderbilt U Receives 2020 USGBC Leadership Award

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) recently announced the university as a 2020 Leadership Award recipient in the outstanding companies, organizations and projects category. The university was among 10 companies, projects and individuals across the nation to earn an award. The annual awards recognize leadership in green building and commitment to advancing healthy, sustainable buildings and communities.

Concordia U Launches Sustainability Action Plan

The recently launched Sustainability Action Plan includes five-year plans around five topics: food, waste, climate, research and curriculum.

AASHE Announces Top Performers in 2020 SCI

The recently released Sustainable Campus Index (SCI) 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), Colby College (baccalaureate), Thompson Rivers University (master’s), and Colorado State University (doctoral/research). Details about the 25 top-performing institutions for each impact area can be found within the report.

AASHE Announces 2020 Sustainability Award Finalists

The AASHE Sustainability Awards provide global recognition to the individuals and organizations leading the higher education sustainability movement through sustainability achievements, research advancements and student leadership. Across 10 categories, 40 finalists were chosen from more than 400 submissions. Winners for all categories, including the Lifetime Achievement Award, will be announced at the free, virtual 2020 AASHE Sustainability Awards Ceremony on Dec. 3 starting at noon U.S. Eastern time.

LSE Releases Sustainability Strategic Plan

(U.K.) The London School of Economics and Political Science launched the new plan focusing on six key themes: education, research, engagement and leadership, investment, carbon and environmental impact, and collaboration.

U Wisconsin Green Bay Creates Office of Sustainability

The Office of Sustainability recently opened and the university named John Arendt as its director. The office will be housed in the Environmental Management and Business Institute (EMBI), where Arendt will also continue to serve as director.

U Guam Adopts 10-Year Sustainability Plan

Titled the Guam Green Growth (G3) Action Framework, the plan contains hundreds of goals and objectives focused on five categories: healthy and prosperous communities; educated, capable, and compassionate Island; sustainable homes, utilities and transportation; thriving natural resources; and sustainable alliances.

Lehigh U Releases 10-Year Sustainability Strategic Plan

The university's new 10-year sustainability plan focuses on 113 goals across six focus areas. The plan’s six focus areas include climate action, campus operations, educational experience, culture and engagement, health and wellness, and focused leadership. Each goal is tied to one or more of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.

Concordia U Joins SDG Networks

The university recently joined the University Global Coalition, a global platform of universities and other higher education organizations committed to working together in support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) through our education, research and service missions. The university also joined Sustainable Development Solutions Network Canada, part of a movement of higher education institutions that aims to develop and promote practical solutions for sustainable development.

Princeton Review Releases 2021 Guide to Green Colleges

The Princeton Review "Guide to Green Colleges, 2021 Edition" profiles 416 colleges with a commitment to sustainability. Of the 416 institutions, 393 are in the U.S., 22 are in Canada, and one is in Greece. The 416 schools are listed alphabetically in the guide and not ranked. However, institutions that earned a score of 99 are recognized in The Princeton Review's Green Honor Roll.

Eight Institutions Form 'Canadian Colleges for a Resilient Recovery'

British Columbia Institute of Technology, Okanagan College, SAIT Polytechnic, Mohawk College, Seneca College, Nergica, Nova Scotia Community College, and Holland College formed the Canadian Colleges for a Resilient Recovery. The Canadian Colleges for a Resilient Recovery will help young people receive training needed to take part in a sustainable, climate-focused post-COVID-19 economic recovery. They will have quarterly online meetings to allow participating institutions to share their recovery solutions and will host webinars by faculty and researchers from the eight institutions.

Syracuse U Installs Solar-Electric on Student Center

A recent renovation of the university's Schine Student Center included installation of a 50-kilowatt, roof-mounted photovoltaic system.

U Virginia Publishes Sustainability Plan

The university’s new plan, the 2020-30 Sustainability Plan, includes these goals: carbon neutral by 2030 and fossil fuel-free by 2050; reducing waste to 30 percent of 2010 levels by 2030; reducing the nitrogen footprint by 30 percent by 2030; partnering to advance equity; building accountability in leadership; and enhancing sustainability research. The plan also provides seed funding for sustainability projects.

U Illinois Urbana-Champaign Publishes Climate Action Plan

The newest version of the Illinois Climate Action Plan led by the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment commits the campus to divest from fossil fuels, switch to clean energy sources, and reduce net air travel emissions by 100 percent by fiscal year 2030. Its objectives are organized into eight key themes: energy, transportation, land & water, zero waste, education, engagement, resilience and implementation.

Catholic U America Unveils Campus Sustainability Plan

In celebration of Campus Sustainability Month, the Catholic University of America recently released a five-year sustainability plan. The initiatives and actions listed in the plan are intended to generate positive environmental change, promote education and research, preserve resources, raise awareness, reduce expenditures, generate dialogue and create new community engagement touchpoints.

U New Mexico Appoints Director of Sustainability Studies Program

In June, Dr. Melinda Morgan became the director of the sustainability studies program and now also holds the W.K. Kellogg Chair in Sustainable Environmental & Food Systems. In the role, Morgan aims to create a transdisciplinary research collaborative to look at the social-ecological system dynamics of water supply, climate change and wildfire in the Rio Grande watershed.

U Virginia Adopts Racial Equity Goals

The university's board of visitors recently endorsed goals recommended by the UVA Racial Equity Task Force. The goals include: doubling the number of underrepresented faculty by 2030; developing a plan for having the student population better reflect the racial and socioeconomic demographic of the state; reviewing policies related to staff hiring, wages, retention, promotion and procurement, in order to ensure equity; and developing a series of educational programs around racial equity and anti-racism, including leadership development programs.

Carnegie Mellon U Reports on SDGs

The university released a new report encompassing a voluntary review of the university's work across the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The report also includes opportunities to further strengthen its efforts toward the goals.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

Indiana U Accepts 2020 'Excellence in Sustainability Award'

The university received the NACUBO 2020 Excellence in Sustainability Award for its Indiana Sustainability Development Program, which aims to prepare undergraduate and graduate students for sustainability jobs within the state. NACUBO's Excellence in Sustainability Award recognizes institutions for a specific campus innovation, process or program that advances environmental sustainability in higher education or progress toward a more environmentally sustainable future.

EAUC Announces 2020 International Green Gown Award Recipients

The small and large institution winners in the Benefitting Society category are, respectively, Ayrshire College (U.K.) and St. Ignatius of Loyola University (Peru). The small and large institution winners in the Student Engagement category are, respectively, Facens University (Brazil) and University of Strathclyde (U.K.). The small and large institutional winners for the Sustainability Institution of the Year award goes to the International Islamic University Malaysia and St. Ignatius of Loyola University (Peru) respectively. The International Green Gown Awards celebrate the exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities and colleges across the world and are endorsed by United Nations Environment Program.

Villanova U Professor Receives Environmental Health Award

Health Care Without Harm and the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments recently announced Dr. Ruth McDermott-Levy as the 2020 Charlotte Brody Award recipient. Dr. McDermott-Levy is an associate professor and director at the Center for Global and Public Health at Villanova University. The Charlotte Brody Award is an annual award given to a nurse who promotes and protects environmental health. Dr. McDermott-Levy was recognized for environmental advocacy and climate change leadership.

Four Institutions Achieve STARS Platinum

Arizona State University, Cornell University, Université de Sherbrooke and University of Connecticut recently obtained Platinum ratings under the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). These institutions join five other STARS Platinum institutions: Colorado State University, Stanford University, Thompson Rivers University, University of California, Irvine, and University of New Hampshire. The STARS assessment framework encompasses long-term sustainability goals for already high-achieving institutions, as well as entry points of recognition for institutions that are taking first steps toward sustainability.

Instituto de Empresa U Announces Sustainability Strategy & Investment

(Spain) The university's new sustainability strategy, the "10 Year Challenge", will focus on specific annual projects from 2020 through 2030 and includes an $11 million (10 million euros) investment. The university's objective is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2030. Additionally, the university aims to eliminate bottled water by 2021; and by the end of 2020, reduce paper consumption by 100 percent, reduce single-use packaging by 50 percent, increase recycling by 50 percent, increase purchased renewable energy to 70 percent; and increase sustainable transportation use by 50 percent.