Monday, September 23, 2013

Top 10 greenest universities in the US

This initiative by Sierra Club reminds me of the several programs by our own Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) to promote energy efficiency, energy saving and environmental sustainability. Check it out here.

The ranking: How it's done

Universities are ranked after an extensive questionnaire that asks about everything from where a campus gets its energy to whether its landscapers use native plants and its cafeterias offer recycled napkins. The United States has more than 2,000 four-year college and universities.

162 responses were received from qualified schools, which was further reduced in numbers. A perfect score is 1,000 with top-ranked school netting 850.

Top ten greenest

Now, let's look at the top ten and take some inspiration from what our friends are doing on the other side of the globe:-

10. University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, California

Score: 756.69 | Students: 22,218

UCSB has 44 of its buildings LEED certified, 47% of academic departments offer a class about sustainability (for a total of 321 classes and 217 faculty members who do eco-research), 50% of food served is local, and 75% of waste gets saved from the landfill via recycling and composting; the goal is to get that latter percentage to 100 by 2020. The Gauchos have also, since the late 1990s, lowered their electricity use by a third, their water use by a quarter, and their food waste by almost 35%. A whopping 94% of students take alternative means of transit to class.
Photo courtesy of Jonas Krant/UC Santa Barbara

9. American University
Washington, D.C

Score: 759.34 | Students: 12,693

Aiming to be carbon neutral by 2020, AU is off to a strong start, with 30 buildings on track for LEED Silver certification, a 27kW solar array, D.C.'s biggest solar hot-water system, and a contraption called the Vegawatt, which turns old cooking oil into electricity. The university's plan is to divert 100% of its waste, and it's already two-thirds of the way there, thanks to a new campus-wide composting program, trayless dining, quarterly e-waste drives.
Photo courtesy of Jeff Watts/American University

8. Georgia Institute of Technology
Atlanta, Georgia

Score: 759.76 | Students: 20,941

The EPA named Georgia Tech as one of the "best places for commuters" for its range of eco-transit options, from carpooling to mass transit; natural gas–powered buses move more than 2 million riders per year. The 440-acre Atlanta school was also named a Tree Campus USA for its 25% arboreal cover. Despite all that foliage, water usage hasn't increased since 2001. Everything built after 2008 is LEED certified, and a 1.4-million-gallon stormwater cistern helps conserve. The Yellow Jackets have been recycling since 1996, diverting an annual mass of 600 tons.
Photo courtesy of Rob Felt/Georgia Institute of Technology

7. Stanford University
Palo Alto, California

Score: 763.82 | Students: 15,666

Over 5 years, the California school raised more than $430 million for its Initiative on the Environment and Sustainability, a chunk of which is headed toward a new energy facility that'll halve the 8,180-acre campus's carbon emissions and cut its water use by almost a fifth. Some 130 professors spanning 40 departments teach at least 700 sustainability-related classes. 36 student clubs are green-themed and that recycling and composting are big: The waste-diversion rate here tops 66%, and the goal is zero waste.
Photo courtesy of Linda A. Cicero/Stanford News Service

6. Green Mountain College
Poultney, Vermont

Score: 767.09 | Students: 637

One of the first U.S. universities to achieve climate neutrality, this tiny school in Poultney has a $5.8 million biomass plant that burns locally sourced woodchips to heat 85% and power 20% of the campus's two dozen buildings. Since 2006, GMC has also sourced 1.2 million kWh of its energy per year from cows. Students visit local farms to learn about the bovine methane-generating process and are required to take a 37-credit environmental curriculum, which is delivered in LEED-certified classrooms. In the photo, GMC students plant trees to create a riparian buffer along the banks of the Poultney River.
Photo courtesy of Don Hamerman/Green Mountain College

5. Cornell University
Ithaca, New York

Score: 776.72 | Students: 21,131

Cornell offers 340 classes, across almost every department, about sustainability, and this is one of the only colleges where you can minor in climate change. School officials pledge that Cornell will be a net-zero-carbon campus by 2050. Over the past two years, its greenhouse gas emissions have dropped by 25 percent, and over the next five, $45 million will go toward energy-conservation projects. Plenty of open space remains, however: The 2,300-acre campus in Ithaca, New York, has two stunning gorges, a 35-acre botanical garden, and a 100-acre arboretum.
Photo courtesy of Lindsay France/Cornell University Photography

4. University of California, Davis
Davis, California

Score: 782.74 | Students: 32,653
Last year's "Cool Schools" winner, an agricultural-education powerhouse, churns out research that helps shape California's water laws and push new farming practices into the mainstream. Its West Village, a neighborhood for students and staff, is America's biggest planned zero-net-energy community. UC Davis's climate action plan has already cut campus emissions to below year-2000 levels. Recycling, composting, and reuse divert more than 60% of would-be trash from landfills, and aim for 100% by 2020.
Photo courtesy of Karin Higgins/UC Davis

3. University of California, Irvine
Irvine, California

Score: 794.30 | Students: 27,479

UC Irvine's 19MW cogeneration facility and other energy-preserving projects have helped the school save 20 million kWh of electricity per year since 2009. Solar panels generate enough power to run 500 homes for a year. The 1,475-acre campus is anchored by a 16-acre botanical garden, and all new buildings must be certified at least LEED Silver. Living green is important at UCI: Meatless Mondays are strongly encouraged, and a dozen student clubs focus on eco-issues.
Photo courtesy of Kathleen Johnson/UC Irvine

2. Dickinson College
Carlisle, Pennsylvania

Score: 807.04 | Students: 2,380

Since 2008, Dickinson has bought enough wind power to offset all of its electrical needs. And since 2006, students have been collecting grease from local restaurants and turning it into biodiesel for the Carlisle, Pennsylvania, campus's vehicle fleet. If all goes according to plan, the school will achieve zero net emissions by 2020. Meanwhile, cafeterias serve student-grown produce, construction crews build to LEED Gold standards, and paper use has dropped by 60% over the past four years.
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Crowley/Dickinson College

1. University of Connecticut
Storrs, Connecticut

Score: 850.14 | Students: 22,301

This year's winning school offers almost 600 sustainability-related classes taught by some of the greenest minds anywhere — more than 40% of UConn's research faculty does original academic work that benefits the environment. Since 2005, the main campus, in Storrs, has slashed its water use by 15% and over the past two years, 13 of its buildings were retrofitted to prevent 2,640 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. In the trayless dining halls, 30% of meal options are vegetarian, and more than a quarter of the food is processed within 100 miles, with many ingredients harvested right on campus: Honey comes from UConn's apiaries, fresh eggs from the agriculture department, and seasonal produce from student-run gardens.
Photo courtesy of Peter Morenus/University of Connecticut

Click here for the full article at Sierra Club magazine

No comments: