While college campuses around the world face budget cuts and dwindling support for programs, many are becoming more focused on the revenue from incoming students and figuring out how to attract them.
As a resource for masters degree programs points out, many of today’s students are concerned with ecological issues. This means colleges that focus on green innovations on their campuses and marketing those improvements are much more appealing to future students. To stay competitive some schools are taking going green beyond just recycling and are improving the design of their campuses and are incorporating undergraduate and masters degree programs covering areas like sustainability. Below are five colleges are really impressive in their efforts to a positive environmental impact:
1. Warren Wilson College, Ashville, North Carolina.
This college has been a leader in green campus innovation, and started making ecologically minded improvements to their school in the ‘80s, before going green was popular. For example, they were one of the first campuses to institute a campus recycling program and they serve cafeteria food that, for a large percentage, comes directly from their sustainable campus gardens. The garden gives ecology majors at the school a chance to see the impact of sustainable growing and eating first hand, and also saves billions of gallons of fossil fuel that is used to ship conventional food from faraway places.
2. University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point, Stevens Point, Wisconsin.
At this college, not only do they have a unique conservation program to educate the leaders of an ecologically sound future, they have a waste program that makes most campuses look far less efficient. In the dorms, they have recycling chutes to make disposing of recyclables very convenient. This campus also has an onsite composting program, where students, staff and faculty create re-usable and nutrient rich compost for their community. In addition, the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point was the first in the country to include a conservation program in the curriculum (1940s).
3. University of Maine, Orono, Maine.
The University of Main campus is pretty incredible in terms of green innovation. Not only do students, staff, faculty and visitors have free access to bicycles and a shuttle to encourage sustainable travel, but all of the buildings on campus also have to meet very rigid standards of “green-ness.” Each building has a paper recycling bin in every room, and all new buildings must meet LEED’s (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green certification standards. In addition, the campus employs a Sustainability Council, Sustainability Coordinator, and houses an “eco lead” in each dorm to ensure that recycling programs are being followed closely, and energy conservation is at its most efficient.
4. Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts.
Not only did Northeastern begin greening their campus earlier than most, but they have also continued to integrate sustainability and ecologically sound practices into their curriculum and school mission successfully for the past 20 years. Their composting program is very effective, and many courses include a sustainability component. They have reduced their carbon footprint immensely by installing new lighting and house the first college cafeteria to gain LEED Gold standard certification and three star green certification rating.
5. University of California – Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California.
Not only does the Sierra Club rank this campus in the top 10 in the nation for green innovation, but their faculty also produces award winning green research. This school also dedicates entire buildings to use by sustainability and community action student groups, such as the California Student Sustainability Coalition.
The colleges listed here are doing a wonderful service to the planet and their students. These campuses save resources while allowing students to see the innovation and creativity of the green movement taking place before their very eyes. Thus, these campuses are making a difference and inspiring the future of green innovation in their student body.
Guest post by Elaine Hirsch. She is kind of a jack-of-all-interests, from education to technology to public policy. She is currently working as a writer for various education-related sites and writing about all these things instead. Her work is often found in the Greener Ideal blog.