Colleges Are Earning Degrees in Sustainability

As students are moving into dorms and getting situated in class, universities are flaunting their green initiatives. Buildings are going green with LEED certification, facility managers are cutting costs with solar power, and students are creating initiatives for a greener tomorrow.

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) encourages universities, professors, and staff to drive sustainability innovation. The group created a framework for schools to measure their sustainability performance and track long-term goals. It also recognizes institutions who are taking their first steps toward sustainability.

More than 900 universities have signed up to share their stats and efforts. The University of St. Francis (USF) in Illinois recently partnered with AASHE to help the college further its campus efforts toward building a healthy community. By installing water bottle refilling stations across campus, USF eliminated the need for 113,447 single-use water bottles.

The University of Dayton (UD) in Ohio is a leader among sustainability initiatives. The school installed 400 solar panels, began a composting program and is considering making its arena a “zero waste” facility once renovations are complete. Because of lighting upgrades, UD saves $400,000 annually and received a $500,000 rebate from a local electricity utility company.

“The University already is seeing positive returns on our green investments, which allow us to accelerate additional investments in energy-saving improvements to campus operations and hold down costs for students plus foster sustainability-related research and hands-on learning opportunities for students,” Andy Horner, UD’s vice president for finance, told the Dayton Daily News.

Dickinson College in Pennsylvania employs sustainability tactics through all areas of the university. Not only does the administration include three sustainability committees, but the school has also created its own renewable energy facilities that run biofuel and recycles cooking oil to generate energy. The school has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent by 2030. Plus, 50 percent of the cafeteria budget comes from local markets and encourage students to recycle and compost when appropriate.

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