Sustainable University 101

Sustainable University 101

Posted on 12. Oct, 2011 by in Green Trends

What do college campuses generate? Students. And what do students need? Rental housing.

This is certainly not news but what you might not know is that college and university campuses nationwide are implementing strategies to be more sustainable.

Back when I was an undergrad in the early nineties, recycling was about as green as my campus got. I’d been recycling for quite some time at home, but institutions were slower to embrace large-scale recycling initiatives. Being able to conveniently recycle a soda can after class seemed downright progressive — a rather frightening assessment these days.

Still, being able to recycle anything on campus made an impression on most students. Tall cardboard receptacles – each with two round holes slightly larger than an aluminum can – stood like sentries next to vending machines in most campus buildings. Folks who were new to recycling soon made it a habit to toss empty cans in the bins on their way out of class. Not everyone was on board, of course. Despite the convenience, cans still occasionally landed in the garbage.

Think about the average campus population. Undergrads and grad students mix with professors and an army of support staff. Everyone is busy-busy-busy, sleep deprived and intently focused on personal priorities. In this environment, it’s challenging to see beyond today’s deadlines.

And yet, a heavy consumption of resources makes a university environment the perfect place to implement a unified sustainability strategy that goes well beyond simply recycling the odd aluminum can. Today’s initiatives include native plantings on campus grounds, composting food waste, community gardens and reducing overall energy use.

The American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment is a nationwide effort focused on bringing leaders from colleges and universities together to pledge support for climate neutrality, which is defined as “having no net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, to be achieved by eliminating net GHG emissions, or by minimizing GHG emissions as much as possible, and using carbon offsets or other measures to mitigate the remaining emissions.”

If your rental property is situated near a university campus, find out if the administration has any sustainability initiatives in the works. The College Sustainability Report Card allows you to look up leaders in campus sustainability and see how specific campuses rate.

Campus-wide sustainability initiatives are giving students a better overall education inside and outside the classroom — and providing you with an opportunity. Students participating in sustainability efforts on campus will expect similar initiatives in their off-campus lives as well. If your rental property has eco-assets, make sure your local campus crowd knows about them. If your property doesn’t have much to offer in the way of sustainability, now would be an excellent time to explore a few initiatives.

Sure, there will still be college students who just want to rent a place with four walls and a level place to store the keg. But they’ll also want a bin or two to recycle bottles, and maybe a small garden to grow hops.

Tags: , , ,