America’s institutions of higher learning are doing more than just molding and inspiring the bright minds of students. Many are also setting admirable examples of sustainable solutions to myriad problems.
This list of ten cutting edge colleges and universities, created by Daily Planet, are going beyond simple recycling to starting organic gardens and farms, installing green roofs and solar panels, treating wastes with "living machines" and offsetting all emissions.
Some of these colleges are as large as small cities, while others only have a few students. Some are household names with multi-billion dollar endowments, and others are newcomers with bootstrapped budgets. What they share in common is their strong commitment to going green.
1. College of the Atlantic
- In 2007 COA was the first U.S. college to go carbon neutral.
- The school took it even further by committing to green building, historic preservation, land conservation, and elimination of toxins.
- Locally sourced, organic food is what's for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- The college is grooming future leaders in conservation, advocacy, ecology and much more.
2. Warren Wilson College
- Environmental sustainability at the core of Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, North Carolina.
- The school is vastly self-supporting, getting food and lumber from its own organic gardens and managed forests.
- And, get this, even chainsaws even use soy oil!
- The school runs vehicles on biodiesel, owns hybrids and solar-charged carts and is a leader in green building and design.
- Streetlamps are solar-powered and low light pollution.
- And the students are exposed to a new level of recycling; they enjoy a "free store," where used items can find new life in the hands of others who can put them to good use.
3. Evergreen State College
- Set in Olympia, Washington, Evergreen's 1,000-acre campus includes about 800 acres of woods, forest and saltwater beach.
- The leafy setting is enhanced by native plants and gardens and a 13-acre organic farm (with compost facility).
- Evergreen buys 100% clean power, and is trying out electric vehicles.
- The Seminar II building is Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified, and hosts a green roof, in addition to other efficiency features.
- The college also offers students many hands-on opportunities to get down and dirty with organic farming, conservation, ecology and much more.
4. Oberlin College
- Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, has long been at the forefront of progressive thinking. In 2005, students and faculty created a web-based system to continually monitor energy and water used in dorms. The system has resulted in substantial savings.
- The campus boasts the state's largest solar array, and is graced with gorgeous green buildings, including the iconic Lewis Center for Environmental Studies.
- The geothermally heated building uses only about 20% as much energy as a typical structure, and employs such advanced features as extensive daylighting, impressive insulation, recycled materials, powerful ventilation and a green roof.
- The Center is also home to a model "living machine," which processes waste water through a plant- and bacteria-based filtration system.
5. Middlebury College
- Located in the town of Middlebury, Vermont, this college is pushing for carbon neutrality, and hosts popular energy-saving competitions in the dorms.
- Green building is a fixture of the campus. Not long ago, when the school needed to tear down an aging structure, it was carefully dismantled so the parts could be used again in green "reconstruction."
- The college even includes environmental friendliness in its artwork: in front of the Mahaney Center for the Arts is the eye-catching sculpture "So Inclined," which was made from locally harvested saplings by artist Patrick Dougherty.
6. Berea College
- Berea College in Berea, Kentucky, is home to an impressive Ecovillage, which is working toward the goals of 75% reduction in energy and water use and a 50% reduction in solid waste.
- The five-acre residential complex houses eco-friendly appliances, heavy insulation, solar panels, wind-power, rainwater collectors, a living machine and more.
7. University of California
- With 10 campuses spread out across the Golden State, the University of California has set the goals of boosting the use of low- and zero-emission vehicles by 50% by the year 2010, generating 10 megawatts of renewable energy by 2014, and achieving zero waste and carbon neutrality by 2020.
- UCLA has already increased bicycle use by an encouraging 50%.
- UC Berkeley has won national attention for hosting the first certified organic kitchen in a college setting.
- And UC Merced, in the center of the state, is home to several impressive green buildings.
8. Harvard University
- One of only two Ivies on the list, Harvard is working hard to parlay its leadership into the green sphere.
- Harvard has been installing motion sensors and other energy efficiency devices, and has converted school trucks to run on spare vegetable oil from dining facilities.
- School buildings have achieved up to 73% reductions in waste, and the institution is committed to using recycled paper (and printing on two sides).
- Harvard is also one of the top purchasers of renewable energy.
9. Duke University
- The other Ivy League school on the list, North Carolina-based Duke University opened the SmartHouse dormitory, a LEED platinum building.
- Duke now requires that all future construction be certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.
- The school also buys green power, and is working to encourage biking and discourage car use.
10. California State University at Chico
- The California State University at Chico, a 16,250-student campus north of Sacramento, was recently awarded the National Wildlife Federation's Campus Ecology Chill Out contest.
- The school was recognized for certified green buildings, installing energy-saving software, solar panels and other initiatives.
Source: The Daily Green