There have been several reports about colleges and universities that have gone green. From sustainable projects to eco-design to organic gardening, environmentalism continues to grow on campuses across the country.
Connecticut College in New London has been a leader in environmental awareness since they first offered a human ecology major in 1969. “The whole campus embodies the commitment to environmental sustainability,” said Amy Cabaniss, Campus Environmental Coordinator.
Today, they have an on-campus composting process, a student initiated light bulb exchange program to switch out energy inefficient bulbs, and students can pay an extra $25 per year to support renewable energy at the school.
The college will also engage in an energy audit at the end of this month as a means to further reduce energy waste. Among other things, the audit will assess their overall energy use, water demand, recycling habits and transportation practices. “We think we’re green but how green are we?” said Cabaniss. “This is one way for us to find out.”
Yale University is one school that has recently been highlighted for their eco-friendly projects as well. The Princeton Review recently listed the school in the top 11 educational facilities that have high rates or highly improved rates of sustainability making them officially green.
According to the review, Yale has reduced its overall greenhouse gas emissions by 43% below its 1990 levels. Within the first two years of their efforts, they have managed to decrease these levels by 17% already. They use solar, wind, and geothermal energy produced on campus to reduce the usage of fossil fuels. And in 2003, Yale introduced a working farm that their School of Forestry & Environmental Studies manages as part of their Sustainable Food Project.
But going green is catching on elsewhere, and not just at the collegiate level. High schools, middle schools and elementary schools are taking responsibility for their environment as a means of teaching their students by example.
Roger Sherman Elementary School in Fairfield has done its part to be environmentally aware. Since May, they have actively tended an organic garden. The children participate in taking care of the garden during the school year as well as taking shifts to water and weed it over the summer.
When the garden was first introduced this past spring, the feeling was that children would be more likely to eat vegetables they have grown themselves. “This is a grassroots movement that’s really taken hold,” said Annelise McCay, founder of the organic garden and a Sherman parent. “We’d like to see [the garden] used in the classroom and ideally in the cafeteria.”
The Sherman project has been a forerunner of organic gardening in Fairfield. But other schools are interested too. McCay recently met with Amie Guyette Hall, Holistic Health Counselor and Cooking Coach working with the Fairfield district middle schools. “There is a great interest in whole foods and bringing it into the classroom,” said Hall.
McCay and Hall discussed building organic gardens across the school district and possibly hosting a farmer’s market of all the produce grown at each school.
Whether in major universities or at the elementary level, environmentally-focused initiatives have grown each year and students across the country are taking an active role in creating a cleaner, less wasteful planet.
Here is a list of the top 11 actively green colleges and universities from The Princeton Review:
1. Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ)
2. Bates College (Lewiston, Maine)
3. College of the Atlantic (Bar Harbor, Maine)
4. Emory University (Atlanta, GA)
5. Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA)
6. Harvard College (Cambridge, MA)
7. State University of New York (Binghamton, NY)
8. University of New Hampshire (Durham, NH)
9. University of Oregon (Eugene, OR)
10. University of Washington (Seattle, WA)
11. Yale University (New Haven, CT)
For more information on these schools, go to www.princetonreview.com/green-honor-roll