From my view as a student, I find sustainability on campus not only an important, but also an essential part of my experience here
Lawrenceville, NJ (Vocus) August 5, 2009
Results of Peterson's first sustainability survey targeting colleges around the country indicate that campuses committed to sustainability initiatives are employing a variety of strategies to make a "green" difference.
"We have collected detailed information from 449 two- and four-year higher education institutions about their recycling, use of reusable energy, and other environmentally focused activities and programs," said Stephen Clemente, president of Peterson's, a leading education content provider in the United States. "This data is becoming increasingly important for students who are considering sustainability as a factor in their college search and selection."
According to the data analysis, 85% of schools surveyed indicated that they have a sustainability committee or advisory council supporting campus-wide participation in sustainability efforts, and nearly 58% of schools employ a sustainability coordinator or director. More than 6 out of 10 schools advocate for public policies that promote campus sustainability, while 8 out of 10 participate in intercampus collaboration on sustainability.
According to Amy Short, sustainability coordinator for the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, students at her institution are not just learning about sustainability, but they also apply their unique interests and creative energy to help build resilient communities.
"There are on-campus, regional, and even international student-led projects related to sustainability. No matter what your major is, you can find sustainability-linked opportunities through courses, internships, residential life programs, student groups, and special events," Short said.
The trend toward creating a green campus also points to university and college students organizing clubs and groups that further environmental causes. Nearly 8 out of 10 schools completing Peterson's survey indicated that they had clubs focusing on sustainability issues. Additionally, 68% of schools mentioned that they host or take part in major events, such as conferences and symposia, directly related to environmental concerns.
On average, recycling of some kind is done at the majority of colleges surveyed. Nearly 6 out of 10 schools have some type of on-campus recycling center. About 86% of the schools responded that their institution has a computer recycling program. Nearly 85% have some type of online alternative to their paper materials (such as course catalogues and directories), and 6 out of 10 schools limit free printing in computer labs and libraries. Close to 7 out of 10 schools have decreased packaging for to-go food service by using bulk condiment dispensers, and the use of reusable dishware in 71% of surveyed schools also decreases dining hall waste.
"From my view as a student, I find sustainability on campus not only an important, but also an essential part of my experience here," said Andrea Bolks, an undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota. "Working and studying in a more eco-friendly environment makes me feel proud to be part of this community and excited to get involved. I think being in an atmosphere that is more eco-friendly makes people happier, more sociable, and brings a great sense of community because the students, staff, and others are working together to better their own environment."
Nearly 65% of institutions surveyed indicated that they are currently using or plan to use alternative power sources on campus. Given five choices--biomass, geothermal, hydroelectric, solar, and wind--almost 30% of schools reported that they use or will use solar to power their campus. Close to 78% of surveyed schools indicated that they purchase EnergyStar products. Nearly 7 out of 10 schools use green cleaning products on campus, such as those with a Green seal certification.
Sustainable, organic, and/or locally produced foods are now available at more than 6 out of 10 schools with on-campus dining facilities. The "trayless" cafeteria is also becoming a trend that about half of surveyed schools are instituting by removing trays from their cafeterias, cutting down on water usage.
In terms of transportation, 27% of schools responding to the Peterson's survey have both bike loan/rental programs and/or car sharing programs.
Full results of the Peterson's Sustainability Survey will be included in Peterson's first edition of Green Jobs for a New Economy: The Career Guide to Emerging Opportunities to be published later this year. The book will also feature informative articles and guidance to help people identify careers paths and training options for "green" jobs for the future. For more information, write to sustainability (at) Petersons (dot) com.
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