Armed with a survey that found that 63% of college applicants would use a college’s environmental commitment as a reason to choose to go to school there, the Princeton Review has added a “green rating” to its college rating system. EcoAmerica partnered with the Princeton Review on the study of students’ attitudes about the environment.
The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, a member organization of colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada working to create a sustainable future, is helping to lead an effort to raise higher education’s green score. According to today’s New York Times, colleges are doing the following things in their race to be the greenest campus:
- Setting dates by which they will be carbon-neutral
- Hiring sustainability coordinators
- Buying green power through offsets
In a contest sponsored by the EPA, athletic conferences competed to see who could by the most green power and the ivy leagues won, with a combined 221.6 million kilowatt hours for the past quarter. However, colleges and universities are lagging behind in accomplishing more substantive actions.
“….some higher education officials worry that campuses are taking easy steps to win the label rather than doing the kind of unglamorous work — replacing air exchange systems, for example — that would actually reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases. Some campuses are changing little more than their press releases. ‘I don’t think we really have the tools to quantifiably test who’s doing the best and who’s not,’ says David W. Oxtoby, president of Pomona College. “It becomes a publicity hype type of thing.’”
Universities are dragging their feet in doing the kind of infrastructure improvements that would really move the needle, like:
- Converting to alternative energy
- Changing over to hybrid fleets
- Retrofitting old buildings for efficiency
- Composting their food waste
- Offering sustainability throughout the curriculum
Let’s hope they can ramp up their efforts.
The great thing about an online school such as, Phoenix University, is that they dont have to worry about state of the art campus facilities.
Carol Gulyas is a leader in the renewable energy community in Illinois, where she serves as VP of the Board of the Illinois Solar Energy Association. Recently she co-founded EcoAchievers -- a provider of online education for the renewable energy and sustainable living community. She spent 18 years in the direct marketing industry in New York and Chicago, and is currently a teaching librarian at Columbia College Chicago. Carol grew up in a small town in central Indiana, then lived in the Pacific Northwest, Lima, Peru, and New York City. She is inspired by reducing energy consumption through the use of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and green building technology.