College campuses are usually on the forefront of progressive ideas and programs, and that’s certainly the case when it comes to protecting the environment. Let’s take a look at the 10 greenest college campuses in the United States.
1. American University
Where: Washington, D.C.
Educational opportunities: Green Teaching Certification Program rewards professors for incorporating sustainability content into curriculum.
Renewable energy: In addition, 2,150 solar photovoltaic modules on six buildings. It’s certainly the largest solar power system in the District of Columbia. It’s also including 174 solar thermal energy panels. They are added to four buildings; thereby providing showers to more than 2,000 campus residents. Also hot water to the university’s largest dining hall!
Facilities and vehicles: Last I heard, they were certifying 25 buildings under LEED system.
Other programs: 36% of food purchased meets organic, fair trade or other sustainability measure
2. College of the Atlantic
Where: Bar Harbor, Maine
Educational opportunities: Major areas of study focus on sustainability and ecology (all students study under what the university calls a system of human ecology)
Waste reduction: All food waste is composted
Renewable energy: Student-led projects have also resulted in solar panels and wind turbines on campus.
Facilities and vehicles: College has its own organic farm 12 miles from campus. It’s a farm that also supplies the cafeteria with produce and two livestock farms. Finally, an electric van with solar panels. One provides transportation between the farms and campus.
Other programs: In 2007, CoA became the country’s first carbon-neutral college
3. University of California Los Angeles
Where: Los Angeles, California
Educational opportunities: 200 courses that focus on sustainability
Waste reduction: 69% of waste diverted from landfills; 100% by 2020
Renewable energy: Photovoltaic solar panels help power massive student union building
Facilities and vehicles
38% of vehicles run on alternative fuel
All computers are Energy Star-rated
4. Cornell University
Where: Ithaca, New York
Educational opportunities: 300 courses and 28 majors to study sustainability
Waste reduction: 63% of waste is recycled or composted, including 823 tons of food from dining halls
Renewable energy: $46 million investment in energy conservation
Facilities and vehicles: Free bus passes to freshmen and staff and other incentives to use car and bike share programs. As well as vanpools and public transportation. In conclusion, there’s 3,500 acres of biologically diverse natural land on and around campus, 1 LEED Platinum and 8 LEED Gold buildings.
Other programs: Carbon neutral by 2050, 25% reduction in carbon emissions by not using coal
5. Georgia Tech
Where: Atlanta, Georgia
Educational opportunities: 264 courses on sustainability
Waste reduction: Composting programs help divert 900 tons of waste a year
Renewable energy: 1,400,000-gallon cistern collects rain and condensation for flushing and irrigation; the system is the largest on a U.S. college campus
Tech also has one of world’s largest grid-attached rooftop photovoltaic solar systems
Facilities and vehicles: Tech has the largest university residence hall in the world to achieve LEED Gold for existing buildings
Other programs: 40% of produce is locally sourced
6. Green Mountain College
Where: Poultney, Vermont
Educational opportunities: 46% of grads pursue careers in green jobs
Waste reduction: During 2013 spring move-out, students diverted more than 5,300 pounds of waste from landfills
Renewable energy: 100% renewable energy by 2020.
Facilities and vehicles: Biomass facility allows for campus to be heated by woodchips.
Other programs: Consequently it’s the second climate-neutral campus in the U.S.!
7. Stanford University
Where: Stanford, California
Sustainability research and teaching is done at all seven schools and key institutes
Waste reduction: Recycling program diverts 65% of solid waste from landfills. In addition, the University composts about 1,300 tons of food waste each year.
Renewable energy: Energy retrofits of older buildings are certainly saving 176 million kilowatt hours.
Facilities and vehicles: Free bus system powered by biodiesel and diesel-electric hybrids. Also a commute club and free passes on public transit.
Other programs: 40% of produce is organic or regionally grown
10,000 gallons of waste oil from dining halls converted to biodiesel fuel
8. University of California Irvine
Where: Irvine, California
Educational opportunities: 350 sustainability-related classes offered
Waste reduction: Most noteworthy, food waste reduced by 58%.
Renewable energy: A solar power system that will produce 24 million kilowatt hours over 20 years. That’s also equivalent to offsetting 25.6 million pounds of carbon dioxide. So so good.
Facilities and vehicles: Also 8 buildings have LEED Gold. In addition, 2 have LEED Platinum status. Green, so so green!
Finally that reduces more than 39 million vehicle miles. That’s more over equal to 19,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually.
9. University of Massachusetts Amherst
Where: Amherst, Massachusetts
Educational opportunities: 25 of 90 undergrad majors are sustainability-related. I mean also 250 courses offer some sustainability emphasis.
Waste reduction: Recycling and composting divert 53% for waste to landfills.
Renewable energy: An award-winning central heating plant. It consequently provides 100% of heating and 73% of electrical needs on campus.
Facilities and vehicles: Most interestingly, 13 LEED-registered projects completed.
Other programs: 28% of food produced locally.
10. University of Washington
Where: Seattle, Washington
Educational opportunities: 550 courses for related topics to the environment and or sustainability.
Waste reduction: Recycling and composting are also diverting 57% of waste from landfills.
Renewable energy: Energy conservation efforts are certainly saving $50 million over 10 years.
Facilities and vehicles: More than 300 alternative fuel vehicles which most likely means natural gas boo!
Other programs: Replaced 1,800 old toilets, thereby saving 50 million gallons of water a year. Also 53% of food served is organic, local or fair trade! So so cool!
That includes cutting electricity consumption in half, diverting recyclables from municipal solid waste and adding an additional 500 kW of renewable solar energy.
Other Campuses Not Noted – USF
“They’re good partners,” said Lewis. “They’re always willing and when they’re able to, help and get involved in things.”
Funding sustainable projects
The Student Green Energy Fund (SGEF) is a student-led group that provides project funding through a $1 per credit hour fee.
So far, the university has completed a number of successful eco-friendly projects, ranging from LED lighting and ceramic window film installations to water refill stations that reduce single-use plastic bottles.
Some of USFSP’s bigger projects are located in the Fifth Avenue parking garage. On the top floor of the garage is a 7,100-square-foot solar array canopy. It’s a 100-kW array comprised of 318 solar photovoltaic panels that has so far saved more than 325,000 kilograms of CO2 emissions.
On the first floor of the garage is a Tesla Battery Solar Storage System with the ability to store 250-kW of renewable energy.
The SGEF provided about $350,000 for the project, while Duke Energy contributed a $1 million grant.
“Duke Energy has been a great partner with USF St. Petersburg in unveiling this project as well as contributing to our sustainability goals on campus,” said Jacobs.
Also on the first floor of the parking garage is an energy submetering and monitoring kiosk. The digital and interactive system allows faculty and students to scroll through a variety of pages, icons and photos to see real-time data of energy usage in the garage.
The three projects in the garage work simultaneously to provide, store and monitor renewable energy.
USFSP is also a member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, AASHE. Additionally, it’s a participant in their STARS program. A program which allows colleges and universities to report and measure their sustainability performance.
In conclusion, Academic Institutions are scored within four categories. They are Academics, Engagement, Operations and Planning & Administration. Based on their reporting, institutions are also scored and may rank anywhere from bronze to platinum.
Finally, the STARS system along with their score and rank. USFSP has a silver ranking with a score of 53.46.