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The University of Connecticut ranked at the top of a list of the most sustainable campuses in the world, according to results of the University of Indonesia’s GreenMetric Ranking of World Universities, released this month. Four other American universities ranked in the top 10: Northeastern University (Mass.); the University of California, Los Angeles; The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and the University of California, Merced.

When Sally Mason, president of the University of Iowa, called for an increased focus on sustainability in the university’s operations as a key strategic initiative on Earth Day 2008, her ambitious plan presented a serious challenge.

Institutions of higher learning around the globe are turning green. They are embracing sustainability for many reasons, some of them economic, some of them because their student body and faculty are requesting it, and some of them just because it is the right thing to do. There is now even a “College Sustainability Report Card” (published by the Sustainable Endowments Institute) which lists those schools that have joined the green bandwagon and demonstrated a commitment to sustainability and is designed to give guidance to those institutions considering going green.

At Temple, students can charge their mobile devices while catching up with friends.

Temple University (Pa.) is the latest campus to install Solar Dok picnic tables from EnerFusion. The tables, which are made from recycled plastic and cost $10,495 each (plus shipping), have built-in solar panels that provide a place to recharge numerous types of mobile devices while socializing.

There were no ribbon cuttings to mark the opening of the largest fuel cell operating on any Northeast college campus. Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Central Connecticut State University President Jack Miller instead used a pair of wire cutters to snip a large power supply cord during a recent “power cutting” ceremony to recognize installation of the 1.4 megawatt fuel cell power plant.

The University of Utah will launch a fleet of electric buses this fall to shuttle some 47,000 students, staff, and administrators around its 1,500-acre campus. Forty buses, similar to the one pictured here, have been ordered from BYD, a Chinese company that is the world’s largest manufacturer of electric vehicles. The drawback to electric buses in the past has been battery weight. But the BYD buses use a much lighter rechargeable battery, so they can carry more passengers.

Over the course of approximately 200 conversations and interviews for our book, The Sustainable University: Green Goals and New Challenges for Higher Education Leaders (Johns Hopkins, 2012), it became apparent that while many believe the period for orientations to sustainability has passed and the movement has transitioned from one of general citizen awareness to the need for tangible solutions, many

Solar Reading

touchscreen energy dashboard at Middlebury College

Although taking steps to protect the environment is “the right thing to do,” it doesn’t stop people from wanting to know their efforts are making a difference. An energy dashboard can be the answer to communicating the results of campus initiatives.

“Real-time, web-based dashboards really take what’s happening in the boiler room to the dorm room,” says Mike Kempa,
senior marketing manager for the Energy and Environmental Solutions Group at Honeywell.

Middlebury College expects to earn $5,000 to $10,000 from the sale of electricity from its 34-solar-tracker solar farm on campus.

With dropping solar prices, state and federal incentives, and innovative financing models, the crop of campus solar installations has become a healthy one. In fact, installed solar capacity grew 450 percent from 2008 to 2011, when the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) launched its Campus Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Installations Database.