I’ve traipsed through my share of college campuses during the past year with a high school senior in tow and have been impressed by the sustainability achievements the colleges have touted. A combination of youthful energy, innovative funding mechanisms, and some healthy rivalry have pushed many colleges to embrace sustainability across their buildings, curriculum, food services and campus culture. My conclusion? The campus sustainability revolution runs deep, is here to stay, and puts some corporate efforts to shame.
My list of inspiring examples is so long, I’m going to limit myself to three and give you a website for more information.
- The award for sustainability communication goes to Bowdoin College in Maine for this engaging student-made video of the college’s attempt to become carbon-neutral.
- Hat’s off to Butte College in California, the country’s first grid-positive college. Watch the video about this achievement on the college’s sustainability page.
- And now a local example. Mount Wachusett Community College in Massachusetts generates 100% of its energy from renewable wind, solar and biomass sources. It has a “Green Society” of students, a community garden and a sustainability curriculum as seen in this video case study. The school’s program is all the more impressive because community colleges often face steeper barriers than better-endowed four-year institutions. They are dependent on limited state funding and often have a commuting student body that spends less time on campus and thus is less committed to promoting change. Kudos MWCC!
There are more examples and resources on the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) webpage.