What the Top 10 Greenest Colleges are Doing to Create a Sustainable Future

Author: Jimmy Mastroni

Nowhere are sustainability efforts more present than in the academic sector. With cutting-edge research and grant funding, going green is more than just a catchphrase, it’s an active and on-going goal. A recent report from BestColleges.com has ranked 2016’s ‘Greenest Colleges’, spotlighting schools that have launched the most impactful initiatives to reduce the carbon footprint of our generation and the next. Each school in the top 10 has created unique programs and practices that have transformed their local environments and impacted the technology that sustainability companies use to transform our public infrastructure. Below are some of the highlights from each academic institution ranked as the top 10 greenest colleges:

1. Colorado State University – Fort Collins

  • NASA’s Earth System Science Pathfinder Program selected CloudStat, a program developed at the university, for observations. CloudStat monitors cloud radar in an effort to learn more about climate change.
  • The campus is home to 13 solar arrays, including one of the largest on any college campus.
  • 962 of 2,633 courses offered by Colorado State University- Fort Collins are sustainability related.

2. Green Mountain College

  • Green Mountain College has made several key solar investments- a 5.8 kW solar electric vehicle charging station, a 3.8 kW solar roof array, a 150 kW solar farm, a 150 kW turbine and a 150 kW solar array, among others.
  • An impressive 85% of the campus’ heat and hot water comes from a $5.8 million biomass plant on site that is fueled by locally sourced wood chips.
  • Many sustainability initiatives on campus are student-led: In 2014, students researched a project to install levers on the showers so students could easily pause the shower while shampooing their hair.

3. Colby College

  • In April 2013 Colby became the fourth college in the country to achieve carbon neutrality.
  • Colby’s installation of solar photovoltaic panels have a generating capacity of 25.76 kW and provide 10 -15% of the alumni center’s annual energy consumption.
  • Renovations on Roberts Hall will use 70% less electricity with LED light fixtures, and it will be the first building on campus using occupancy sensors in hallways to provide non-emergency lighting only when someone is present.

4. Stanford University

  • The University has crafted the Stanford Energy Systems Innovation Program to reduce carbon emissions by 68% and cut potable water usage by 15% in the coming years. The program represents a transformation of university energy supply from a 100% fossil-fuel-based combined heat and power plant to grid-sourced electricity and a more efficient electric, heat recovery system.
  • By monitoring irrigation practices, making changes to current systems, and adding weather-based irrigation controllers (WBICs), the university reduced its use of potable water for irrigation by 31%.
  • The Energy Retrofit Program has delivered an estimated savings of over 240 million kilowatt-hours of electricity since it began in 1993 – roughly equivalent to 15 months of the university’s current use – and prevented 72,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions.

5. University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh

  • Home to the Environmental Research Innovation Center (ERIC) where scientists perform testing on local water samples, develop renewable energy sources and work with UW-Oshkosh faculty to expand degree programs in fields like environmental science, natural resource protection and sustainability.
  • The University of Wisconsin’s Oshkosh campus is now equipped to produce the equivalent energy of more than 1/2 of its electricity consumption through renewable energy installations.
  • Energy efficiency measures have reduced energy consumption by more than 20% resulting in annual savings of some $800,000.

6. Middlebury College

  • Entire buildings have been recycled in an effort to reduce and reuse at Middlebury.
  • Over 60% of Middlebury College’s waste is diverted from the landfill by composting and recycling programs.
  • The College is committed to having 30% “real food” in the dining halls by 2016. “Real food” is defined as food that is locally-grown, raised humanely and grown using ecological practices, and/or fair trade.

7. University of Colorado – Boulder

  • First university to establish a recycling program.
  • Home to Ralphie’s Green Stampede — a zero-waste and carbon-reduction program at Folsom Field, home of the Colorado Buffaloes Football Team. Its goal is to match the amount of energy used to power the stadium, for team travel, and other football-related energy use.
  • Since 2005,CU-Boulder reduced energy use by more than 22% per square foot while the campus grew by 28%.

8. Emory University

  • Emory prides itself on water conservation. In 2007, a consulting team was hired to develop a comprehensive plan to address storm water management, waste-water management, and overall water conservation on campus.
  • Emory leads the nation in the construction of LEED-certified buildings.
  • More than 1/2 of the campus is designated as Green space.

9. University of California – Santa Barbara

  • Electricity use per square foot has been reduced by 36% over the past 10 years, translating to a $2.9 million annual cost savings.
  • Photovoltaic solar panels have helped the college cut their electrical usage by 1/3.
  • The University has committed to reducing potable water consumption by 12%, which, if achieved, would account for more than 19 million gallons of drinking water saved.

10. Oregon State University

  • Twenty-two exercise machines feed into the OSU power grid to provide energy to the university’s services and facilities. Efforts like this have reduced university energy usage by 2/3.
  • A 1.435 megawatt solar array (1 of 4 on campus) produces enough electricity to power 167 homes for a year or offset CO2 emissions from 136,206 gallons of gasoline per year.
  • The Energy Center uses steam generated by electricity to heat that campus. At the moment around 40% of campus electrical consumption is powered by their efficient cogeneration technology.

As a sustainability company, we are proud and inspired to see such innovative investments into renewable energy, water conservation, and environmental preservation. In addition, it is always great to see some of our clients make the list and know we have been able to help them make an impact on their campus.

For more information on how solar energy can transform your campus, or to speak with a sales representative contact info@theconnectable.com.

Solar Energy can be found everywhere – it’s on the news, popping up on top of electric poles and houses in your neighborhood, featured in documentaries playing at theatres near you, debated as a hot topic by leaders in the White House…

With so much information about solar, it’s surprising that there are still so many misconceptions about its capabilities. At The ConnecTable, we have used the power of solar energy to create a solution for off-grid charging. Our tables provide the public with an energy-efficient, environmentally safe and disaster-proof option that allows them to charge their electronic devices while outdoors. With ConnecTable installations spread across the nation, we have done a substantial amount of education on solar energy to prove its benefits and dispel its myths. Below is a short list of some of the most common fallacies we have found surrounding solar energy:

1. Solar only works when the sun is out

Since solar electricity is created by the sun it is logical to assume it is dependent on weather consisting of only sunny, cloudless days. This, however, is false. Think about it: Have you ever gotten sunburnt when the sun has barely been peeking through the clouds? The effect is the same. Even when the sun cannot be seen, UV light is still reaching the earth’s surface. So while it is true that solar panels produce the most energy when exposed to direct sunlight, even on cloudy days the UV light is more than enough to generate substantial solar power.

2. Solar panels cannot withstand extreme weather conditions

Solar panels are durable enough to withstand almost all weather conditions. Our product in particular, is designed to endure the harshest climates and is rated to be able to withstand winds of up to 90mph.

3. Solar power is unreliable

Solar energy is even more reliable than traditional electricity as it is powered by the sun and is not subject to power outages. Its reliability can further be proven by the substantial investments being made into the sector: in 2016 the U.S. Solar market is expected to grow by 119% (Source: GTM Research / SEIA U.S. Solar Market Insight).

4. Using solar energy is too expensive

This may have been true in the beginning phases of solar technology development, but at the present time it has become much more affordable. Factor in the cost savings on your electric bill that will accrue over time, as well as tax deductions, and reimbursements from the government that are granted for using solar solutions, and it’s now more affordable than ever.

5. A solar powered system will require too much maintenance

Quite the contrary. Compared with traditional electrical grid systems, which require regular maintenance and can go offline for days at a time during major storms, solar systems require no regular maintenance and usually last around 20-25 years.

Solar energy provides countless benefits, both to the environment as well as to its users. While it is natural to assume there could be major pitfalls to an investment of this nature, we hope this has helped to enhance your understanding of this valuable resource.

For more information on our solar charging station, the ConnecTable, or to speak to a representative about solar energy please contact us at info@theconnectable.com or 267-419-8496.

What Earth Month means to Us

In recent years a lot of attention has been drawn to Earth Day (April 22) as climate change and renewable energy resources have taken center stage in the news. What many are unaware of however, is that April is actually Earth Month. It’s a great time to “Go Green” and discuss all of the various opportunities to support the environment, but it’s an even better time to take real action. As a sustainability company, every month is Earth Month in our minds. This April, we thought we’d take a moment to reflect—what exactly does Earth Month mean to us?

To us, Earth Month is the time to celebrate who we are and how far we have come as a company. The ConnecTable was created when our Founder, Jim Innes, saw the need for an off-grid charging solution that would be environmentally friendly. After an onslaught of hurricanes ravaged the Northeast region of the U.S., millions were left without power. Many people were sitting in running cars for hours to charge and use their phones to contact their loved ones. Jim was convinced that there had to be a better way—off-grid charging was his solution.

Having both a vested interest in sustainability initiatives and extensive experience with solar panels, Jim decided that two solar charging products would be created: one for personal charging use, and one for larger-scale, public charging. The first product was our Grid2Go portable, solar-powered, mobile charger. This would allow anyone to charge up to two phones at once, using the power of the sun. The second was our flagship product line: the ConnecTable solar table charging stations. Featuring an unmatched solar array, and available outlets to charge up to 12 phones at once, the tables were designed with reliability, durability, and aesthetic appeal in mind. With the ConnecTable, public spaces can now be transformed into safe, dependable charging zones.

The ConnecTable was created with a vision: “To achieve global connectivity through the implementation of off-grid, solar technology that fosters a beautiful, sustainable world.” What was important to us then, and remains even more so now, is creating a more sustainable future for the Earth, and we believe in our company’s ability to do that.

Nothing is more satisfying than seeing our vision come to life at campuses and properties across the country. Thank you to our clients for helping us realize our vision, and during this special month we urge each one of you to think about what you can do to make the world a greener place.

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