U Illinois Urbana-Champaign Wins International Freezer Challenge
Earning first place in the 2018 International Laboratory Freezer Challenge, the university had 45 labs from 17 buildings participate in the program. Researchers earned points for tasks such as eliminating fridge and freezer usage, cleaning lab spaces and moving samples to warmer storage. Combined efforts to conserve energy resulted in a 720 kilowatt-hours per day reduction of energy use.
Ithaca College to Pilot Peer Program That Addresses Hunger
Students will soon have the option to anonymously donate their allotted guest passes on their college meal plan to fellow students facing food insecurity. The initiative is being undertaken in collaboration with Swipe Out Hunger, an organization that partners with higher education institutions to address student hunger. The program will begin with a yearlong trial phase, during which the college's Student Financial Services will collect data, including the number of passes donated and the number used, in order to assess its effectiveness.
Jordan U Builds Demonstration Solar Tree
(Jordan) With the participation of 12 engineering students, the university is constructing an off-grid solar-electric tree, which it hopes will raise awareness of renewable energy. The energy will be stored in batteries, and eventually solar-charging stations will be available to the community.
U Edinburgh Charges for Disposable Cups
(U.K.) As of August 2018, all hot drink prices in university cafes will be lowered to show the price customers will pay if they bring their own reusable cup, while customers without cups will be charged a small fee to purchase a disposable cup. This reverses the previous pricing structure in which all hot drinks prices were for disposable cups, with customers who brought a reusable cup receiving a discount.
Pennsylvania State U Releases Pollinator Video Game
A collaboration between the university's School of Visual Arts and the Center for Pollinator Research led to the creation of Pollinator Panic, an online strategy game that raises awareness of the issues around bee population decline. The game allows a player to assume the role of a field researcher who is working to restore a bee community.
Pennsylvania State U Receives $50K for Student Farm
The $50,000 from the university's Auxiliary & Business Services will be used to support paid student interns and an assistant farm manager at the university's Student Farm, which is in the third year of operation. Led by members of the Student Farm Club and housed within Penn State’s Sustainability Institute, the Student Farm gives students from across the university hands-on experience in all facets of farming and running a business.
U Bristol to Pilot Well-Being & Sustainability Program
(U.K.) The three-month Be the Change pilot program started in July 2018 and encourages the university’s 6,000 staff members to adopt well-being behaviors, such as volunteering, mindfulness and keeping active. It also promotes sustainable travel, energy and water conservation, and sustainable purchasing.
Oregon State U Faculty & Students Endorse 'Warning to Humanity' Article
The university's Faculty Senate and Associated Students passed a joint resolution last month endorsing “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice", an article published in the journal Bioscience that documents changes in environmental factors over the last 25 years. While the article says that progress has been made in addressing some environmental issues, it suggests that humanity is continuing to risk its future. The article has been co-signed by more than 20,000 scientists from 184 countries.
Energy Dept Announces Winners of Cleantech University Prize
A team at California Institute of Technology took first place in the Energy Department's Cleantech University Prize (Cleantech UP), while Northwestern University clinched second place and the University of Houston claimed third place. A Building Technologies Prize was awarded to a team at Princeton University, and the Department of Defense sponsored an Operational Energy Prize, which went to a team from University of Chicago and Northwestern University. Cleantech UP business plan competitions provide aspiring student entrepreneurs with the mentorship, business development skills and training, and investor feedback they need to turn their clean energy ideas into businesses offering real-world solutions.
U Minnesota Duluth Adds 40 KW Solar System to Residential Apartments
After three years of planning by a student organization called the Solar University Network (SUN) Delegation, the university connected a 40 kilowatt solar electric system to the Aspen Building, part of its Oakland Apartment Complex. The installation was funded by a student service fee, the university's green revolving fund and UMD's Housing and Residence Life. The system is expected to reduce electricity costs by about $3,500 per year.
Kalamazoo College Environmental Center to Receive $250K Grant
A $250,000 grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations to the college's Center for Environmental Stewardship will be used to increase sustainability and environmental stewardship across its curriculum, expand the college’s capacity for responsible resource management and sustainable development, and increase the effectiveness of college’s arboretum as a learning lab for the campus and community.
Stetson U to Install Solar Array With Inaugural Green Fund
Launched in 2017, the university's student green fee will be used to fund a solar array, planned for connection in August 2018. Aside from the $30,000 raised through the 2017-2018 green fund, the Student Government Association and the university each has agreed to match that amount. Avoided costs have been estimated at $17,000 annually.
U Iowa to Provide Professional Clothing to Students
Launching in fall 2018, the Clothing Closet at Iowa will be a clothing bank that gives students an affordable option for buying new or used professional clothing. In addition to supporting students who are unable to afford professional clothes, it will also divert textile waste from landfills and promote reusing and recycling clothing.
Texas A&M U to Open Teaching Garden
The garden is scheduled to open in mid-June and includes 21 themed garden "rooms" for teaching and research in food production and landscape management. Future phases include outdoor venues for performing arts, films, celebrations and social events. Other planned gardens include one for children, a rose garden and a feed-the-world themed courtyard.
Four Institutions Collaborate on Social Infrastructure Development
Founding partners of the new B.C Collaborative for Social Infrastructure are Simon Fraser University, the British Columbia Institute of Technology, the University of Northern British Columbia and Vancouver Island University. The collaboration will focus on sustainable campus and community building, indigenous entrepreneurship and social finance, social procurement, and library outreach and community scholar programs. The four institutions will share practices and policies to encourage progress and to determine how initiatives can be scaled-up and enhanced. The institutions plan to create a community of practice that can be shared with other post-secondary institutions across Canada.
Bucknell U Residential Buildings Earn LEED Silver
Part of a residential area on campus, two new LEED certified buildings feature room occupancy sensors and low-flow water fixtures. Covered bike racks are available to students, and landscaping around them includes native plant species. Sustainability is also incorporated into student life through frequent sustainability-related educational programming.
Stellenbosch U Introduces Diploma in Sustainable Development
(South Africa) Introduced in January this year, this first-ever undergraduate program in Sustainable Development at the university is offered by the School of Public Leadership in collaboration with its Sustainability Institute. The workplace-based diploma aims to give students an opportunity to work on sustainability challenges, gaining skills and experiences perhaps not otherwise available to them.
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.