According to a 2011 survey conducted by The Princeton Review, 65% of students surveyed said they “would value having more information about a college’s commitment to the environment”, and 24% said a college’s commitment to the environment would impact their decision to apply to or attend a school.
In response to this survey, The Princeton Review (in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council) began publishing an annual guide to green colleges. This guide, which can be viewed for free in PDF format on The Princeton Review’s website, contains information on how hundreds of schools in the United States (322 in the 2012 guide) have made changes to make their campuses more environmentally-friendly and sustainable.
While all the colleges in this guide are working to reduce their carbon footprint and raise environmental awareness, there are a few campuses that particularly stand out from the crowd. These five colleges exemplify what all schools in the nation should be reaching for, in terms of sustainability and pollution-reduction.
Located in Garden City, New York, Adelphi University has been recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency for its green power purchasing. 100 percent of the school’s energy comes from renewable resources. It recently purchased 20 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy credits, helping offset the Co2 emissions of approximately 2,750 cars. In addition to this, the university uses a geothermal heating and cooling system to heat and cool some of its campus buildings. Along with solar panels on the library’s roof, Adelphi also spends 30% of its food budget on local and organic food, cleans the campus using only green certified products and provides recycling bins in every building.
California University of Pennsylvania
Located in the borough of California, Pennsylvania, this school uses a geothermal heating and cooling system to keep its buildings heated in the frigid Pennsylvania winters. This allows the college to use 57% less fossil fuel energy than other universities in the Pennsylvania State System. Currently, 37% of Cal U’s energy is derived from renewable resources. The school also offers a wide variety of alternative transportation choices, including free bus passes for students, a bike share/rent program and carpool parking. But what really sets this school apart is that it spends 100% of its food budget on local and organic food, further reducing the carbon footprint by only supporting local agriculture.
Located in Haverford, Pennsylvania, Haverford College is home to the first LEED Gold recreation center in the United States, but this award is only the beginning of what this school does to ensure its environmental-friendliness. For example, students are given access to their very own garden where they can plant food and study local flora, and the campus also only uses organic fertilizer to reduce groundwater toxins. Most impressively, however, is that 100% of the school’s energy is sourced from wind power.
At Naropa, “zero-waste” is the phrase used to describe the campus’ environmental objectives. Located in Boulder, Colorado, Naropa University works to reduce its footprint by composting all food scraps and bathroom paper towels. The school also gives every student a bus pass that can be used both locally and regionally, as well as provides 120 bicycles for rent by the community. In addition, biodiesel fuel is used by campus maintenance in the spring and summer months, to cut down on gasoline usage. To round out this school’s sustainability plan, Naropa only purchases locally grown or organic food products and operates on 100% renewable wind energy credits.
New York University
New York University makes New York City proud for its commitment to sustainability. 100 percent of its energy is derived from renewable sources, and the bike share program is a fully institutionalized program with more than 1,000 members. 100 percent of the school’s cleaning products are green certified, and the school’s grounds are maintained with only environmentally-friendly fertilizers and substances. The NYU Green Grants program helps fund all student, faculty and staff research and education initiatives that are related to reducing human environmental impact.
Although every school may not have the money or resources to totally imitate these five colleges, every organization has the means to make small changes that, when added together, can make a big impact on improving our environment.
Even if schools wanted to ignore their poor environmental policies, the survey says it all; college students today are interested in green college campuses, and they may choose a school based on its green policy.
Lauren Bailey is a freelance blogger who loves writing about education, new technology, lifestyle and health. As an education writer, she works to provide helpful information, pointers and the most recent online college news for students looking into online degrees. Lauren welcomes comments and questions via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.