Are Universities Going Green?

As the threat of global warming becomes more and more of a reality around the world, many universities have begun embracing environmentally habits on campus.  Boards of trustees have started collaborating with student activists, members of administration, and the greater public to implement new practices that conserve energy and promote the reduction of waste.  By speaking out about being environmentally-friendly at a university, you demonstrate that the future is just as important as the practices of learning in the present.

Tackling Technology:  Conserving Energy

Students, professors, and administration are all coming together to stop using so much energy and electricity in the classroom.  This presents a challenge, as our world is getting more and more oriented towards technology, especially in educational institutions.  Schools should pledge to choose brands that have a low carbon footprint, and should also be responsible for using mechanisms like sleep mode and power save for conserving additional energy and electricity.

Energy-efficient Buildings on Campus

One of the biggest harms to our environment is the overconsumption of energy in architecture in old buildings, which are often the kind of building on old campuses.  Changing the insulation within walls and around windows prevents heating to escape the buildings in the winter, as heating costs a lot financially and can waste energy.  Buildings are now constructed with lots of open windows to allow natural light to be used in place of industrial lighting, which contributes to the calm atmosphere of a building as well.  Energy-efficient fans are also installed for keeping campuses cool during the warm summer months.

Creative Conservation Efforts

Many universities encourage students to participate in co-op gardening and farming efforts, which allow students to grow their own healthy organic products in an environmentally-friendly way.  These gardens also serve as places for composting food waste, which is healthy for the soil and can stimulate growth of organic foods.  Students often organize eco-friendly rummage sales and clothing drives, which allow old clothes and household items to be exchanged, recycled, and reused by other students.  Recycling programs not only help prevent waste, but also train students to engage in recycling programs when they leave university for the “real world”.  Often universities sponsor recycling competitions among students to boost participation in their campus’ recycling programs.  On Earth Day in April each year, universities should sponsor programs that get students out into nature, doing cleaning projects that benefit the community and teach students to care about the environment.

Taking the Green Trend into the Future

A big environmental problem at educational institutions - like at most businesses today - is the necessity for printed documents.  Students often have lots of articles, assignments, and forms to print for their coursework, which can contribute to the creation of a lot of waste.  Some ways to fix this problem include printing on recycled paper, choosing to print multiple pages of a document on both sides of a sheet of paper, and distributing PDF versions of articles that are easy to read right on the computer screen.  Universities are taking advantage of e-Learning sites that let students email all documents and print them according to their own necessity, and emails help prevent lots of wasted documents be lost in the mail.

Overall, there is much work to be done in the field of conservation and environmental protection at universities. Of course as we proceed into the future, we need to encourage institutions of learning where we work and study to become more responsible for their impact on the environment.