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ith the costs of higher education continuing to soar, many colleges and universities are looking for innovative ways to lower expenses, while simultaneously pursuing their long-term sustainability goals. The University of New Hampshire (UNH) is proving that both objectives are, indeed, achievable.

Signatories to the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment, as of mid-May. --ACUPCC annual report

Portion of current campus sustainability positions created in 2007 or later. --AASHE Higher Education Sustainability Staffing Survey

Amount of carbon dioxide reduced by ACUPCC institutions. --2010 ACUPCC annual report

The green movement focuses on four factors: clean energy, energy efficiency, environmentally friendly production, and the conservation and reduction of waste materials. Information technology offices at institutions can exercise great control in energy efficiency benefitting not only the institution, but the surrounding community as well.

Karli Green, Senior Product Manager, Campus Management:

"Pilot programs at many institutions show that you can save money and the environment at the same time.

Overlooking the Hudson River, this tech center helps orient the Marist College (N.Y.) campus to the river and will help enforce the role of technology across disciplines.

It's rare to even hear about a single new campus building these days that wasn't built with sustainability principles in mind. Inevitably, institutional officials are learning not to reinvent the wheel every time a new construction project comes up. Creating a green building policy is one way of ensuring sustainability is a collective goal--a goal that will likely benefit future project design teams.

There was a time, and not all that long ago, when many organizations looked at energy costs as a fixed cost of doing business over which they had little control. But rising energy prices, coupled with a challenging economic environment and an increasing focus on carbon reduction, have grabbed American leaders by the shoulders and shaken them into a greater state of consciousness when it comes to energy.

This issue marks our sixth annual "green guide," looking at sustainability trends and technologies at campuses around the country. Some students even base enrollment decisions on an institution's commitment to the environment. "Green" and "sustainability" seem to have become ingrained in the collective higher education consciousness--which, of course, was the idea all along. This was brought home to me in a conversation I had with Karli Grant, a product manager for Campus Management.

Colleges and universities essentially operate as self-contained small cities, providing huge amounts of energy to its campuses, in increasing amounts, all day, every day. The higher education sector owns and operates tens of thousands of buildings, owns millions of acres of land and spends nearly $10 billion each year on energy.

The Power of Green

For six years each June, University Business editors have been sharing snapshots of sustainability efforts taking place at campuses across the country. As green continues to grow in popularity, institutional efforts and the collective impact of those efforts continue to impress.

Just one example is the combined 1.2 billion kilowatt-hours of green power purchased annually by the Top 20 College & University list from the Green Power Partnership. It's the equivalent of powering nearly 103,000 average American homes.

It is becoming more and more fashionable to claim a greener identity, and it seems college students everywhere are excited to help the environment, particularly when their actions are visible to others. When questioned about reducing the carbon footprint at Bentley University (Mass.), for instance, I’ve been asked, “When are we going to install wind turbines?”