Sustainability Trends across College Campuses

College campuses across the nation are taking a new stance on sustainability. As the green movement grows, it is reaching colleges and universities thanks, in part, to student initiatives. If you are looking for a campus that fits in with your environmental ideals, you may be surprised at how many choices you really have. Read on to find out how colleges across America are increasing their sustainability!

1. Life Lessons

At the University of Albany in New York, students are given real life lessons that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. As a part of a living and learning community, students are placed in residence halls or apartments and sent fake energy bills. They are fake because, as students, they are not expected to pay for their own electricity, heat or water. However, by sending these fake notices, students are made aware of how much energy they are wasting, or saving. Students who use the least amount of energy receive gift cards to the local mall.

2. Green Graduation

In what may be the greenest graduation ceremony ever, students of the 2009 class at Unity College in Maine provided an example that others are now following! For the commencement ceremony, 75 percent of the food was purchased from local farmers, e-invites were used to invite friends and family to the festivities, gowns were made from recycled bottles and the diplomas were printed on post-consumer recycled paper.

Thanks to this example, other universities in the nation have held green commencement exercises in the past few years. Perhaps most notably, Quinnipiac University in Connecticut utilized biodegradable gowns and offered their graduates the opportunity to turn their gowns back in to be reused by future graduating classes.

3. Food

Many colleges are now utilizing local farmers as their main source of food for their dining halls. Schools like Colorado College are committed to supporting local and student farmers to supply the bulk of their food. Not only do students who are involved in these farming communities learn about organic and sustainable farming, they are often given free room and board in exchange for their efforts.

In addition to supporting local farmers, many college campus dining halls are now offering vegetarian and vegan options. In years past, students who chose not to eat meat were relegated to the salad bar and a piece of fruit. Today, amazing vegan fare is offered alongside more traditional, meat-based dishes.

4. Ceiling Fans

Most people are surprised at the effect ceiling fans can have on heating and cooling costs. For dormitories, auditoriums and other large spaces, strategically placed ceiling fans can eliminate the need for energy-hogging heating and air units. By running the fans at high-speed in the summertime, and at low-speed in the wintertime, colleges and universities are finding that their reliance on traditional heating and A/C units are reduced considerably.

5. Electric Vehicles

For some colleges, maintenance vehicles are a leading cause of pollution on campus. Many universities have begun replacing their fleets with electric cars to reduce the carbon footprint of the campus as a whole. While these changes can be expensive, the cost is offset by the reduced reliance on gasoline to fuel the vehicles. By replacing gas-guzzling vehicles with environmentally-friendly, electric models, these universities are not only helping to improve the air quality on campus, but the air quality of surrounding areas as well.

As more colleges and universities adopt green campus initiatives, the environment will be a cleaner, safer place for us all. If you are heading to college for the first time this year, you may find that the first step to an environmentally-friendly campus lies with you; don’t be afraid to get involved and share your ideas! You never know where those ideas may lead.

About the Author

Nicole Morgan is an environmental studies advisor and career counselor, she blogs for intelicus.com where you can find information about online master degree programs. She enjoys finding green career opportunities for her students.