Of course it makes sense that institutions of higher learning are developing new and better ways of protecting the planet. All that brain power really does do some good, no? Today, colleges and universities have gone past simple recycling to starting organic gardens, developing solar panels, and even creating “living machines.” Here are ten colleges whose commitment to going green has blown us out of the water.
In Bar Harbor, Maine, this small school has one focus: human ecology, defined as the study of our species’ relationship to the planet. In 2007, COA was the first US college to go carbon neutral. The campus is also committed to green building, historic preservation, land conservation, and elimination of toxins.
This nearly self-supporting school exists in Swannanoa, North Carolina. What makes this college special? All food and lumber are sourced from its own organic gardens and managed forests (even the chainsaws use soy oil!). All vehicles run on biodiesel or are hybrid or solar-charged. The streetlamps are solar-powered as well, with low light pollution. Students also give old items new life at the “free store.”
This 1,000-acre campus (including 800 acres of woods, forest, and saltwater beach) can be found in Olympia, Washington. Students get down and dirty with organic farming, conservation, ecology, and much more. Evergreen also buys 100% clean power, is trying out electric vehicles, and has a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified seminar building.
This progressive college, home of green design master David Orr, has a web-based system that monitors energy and water used in dorms. It boasts the state of Ohio’s largest solar array, and perhaps the coolest thing is its model “living machine.” What’s a “living machine,” you ask? It’s a system designed to process waste water through a plant- and bacteria-based filtration system. Neat, huh?
This Vermont college pushes carbon neutrality, hosts popular energy-saving competitions in the dorms, and has a sculpture made from locally harvested saplings. When they needed to rebuild an old structure, it was carefully torn down so the parts could be used again in green “reconstruction.”
A five-acre residential complex of houses makes up this college’s Ecovillage, which has the goals of 75% reduction in energy and water use, and a 50% reduction in solid waste. These houses contain eco-friendly appliances, heavy insulation, solar panels, wind-power, rainwater collectors, a living machine, and more!
7. University of California
With high goals, including generating 10 megawatts of renewable energy by 2014 and achieving zero waste and carbon neutrality by 2020, this state school system is to be admired. UCLA has already increased bicycle use by 50%, and UC-Berkeley has won attention for hosting the first certified organic kitchen in a college setting.
Harvard has been installing motion sensors and other energy efficiency devices, their school buildings have achieved up to 73% reductions in waste, and their commitment to using recycled paper is astounding. School trucks have also been converted to run on spare vegetable oil from dining facilities…no waste here!
This university in Durham, North Carolina, now requires all future construction to be certified by the US Green Building Council. The campus features the SmartHouse dormitory, a LEED platinum building.
This university was awarded the National Wildlife Federation’s Campus Ecology Chill Out contest award for their certified green building, installing energy-saving software, solar panels, and other initiatives.(Source: http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/latest/10-greenest-colleges-460708)