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

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.

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