Where to find an eco-friendly university in the United States

College students have many considerations when deciding which college is best suited to their needs and desires. One of the primary considerations for some prospective college students is how eco-friendly the university of choice is. For many students, the eco-friendly university campus offers a wealth of opportunities to the student who is concerned about being or going “green.”

The first may have influenced other initiatives

Warren Wilson College in Ashville North Carolina has the distinction of being the first college building to earn the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design Platinum rating for its EcoDorm. The EcoDorm was built in 2003 and is pictured at the U.S. News & World Report, ‘10 Eco-Friendly College Campuses.’ In addition to the LEED Platinum rating for EcoDorm, Warren Wilson is also the first college in North Carolina to have “gold” certification for its Orr Cottage.

But Warren Wilson does not stop there in being eco-friendly. There are numerous initiatives that may make Warren Wilson the optimal choice for students who wish to pursue their education at an eco-friendly college or university. According to ‘Warren Wilson College,’ in which it touts the college as being “unique in higher education,” the “Sustainability” section informs readers that Warren Wilson is the “first among North Carolina independent colleges” in signing a pledge for the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment. By signing the pledge, Warren Wilson will now strive to become carbon neutral.

In 2008, Warren Wilson also named the “Leading School for Waste Reduction and Recycling” in the National Wildlife Federations “Campus Environment 2008 Report.” Warren Wilson also received the 2008 Quality Forward Hall of Fame Award for the Environmental Leadership Center’s efforts in insulating homes of residents who live in poverty, for teaching children in local schools and “reducing waste and energy use in the community.” Warren Wilson has also received numerous other awards and recognition as an eco-friendly college.

College of the Atlantic – another first in going green

College of the Atlantic is identified on Collegestats.org’s “The Nation’s Greenest Universities: Top 10 Eco-friendly Colleges” as the “first U.S. college to go carbon neutral in 2007.” The only major at the Bar Harbor, Maine college is “human ecology,” which is further broken down into human studies, environmental studies and arts and design. All electricity utilized at the school comes from renewable hydropower. Some dorms and buildings are heated by renewable wood pellets. Recycling is made easy at College of the Atlantic with the positioning of recycling bins in every office, compost bins placed in every kitchen and the installation of composting toilets in all new buildings at the school further substantiates the College of the Atlantic as eco-friendly.

Northwestern College grads go green – literally

Graduates of Northwestern College in Illinois do not only practice being eco-friendly, they wear eco-friendly. Graduation caps and gowns have been made of recycled plastic bottles for the past two years at Northwestern. As reported by the Chicago Tribune, the recycled caps and gowns are a continued effort to support “efforts toward sustainability and its mission to go green.” Northwestern’s president Lawrence Schumacher is quoted as saying “We will continue to do all that we can to both reduce Northwestern College’s own carbon footprint as well as instill ecological compassion into our student body.”

University of New Hampshire continues eco-friendly efforts

The University of New Hampshire has the “nation’s oldest endowed university sustainability programs in the nation,” according to collegestats.org. The Office of Sustainability was established back in 1997 with the focus of providing a university-wide program linking sustainability efforts to college life. The university has been the recipient of numerous awards and recognition for their sustainability projects on campus and in the community.

Ohio universities practice extensive award-winning eco-friendly sustainability

Oberlin College, located in Oberlin, Ohio obtains at least half its electricity from renewable sources. Vast savings were realized after Professor David Orr and his students developed a “web-based system” that monitored water and energy usage. After obtaining results, savings were able to be implemented. Waste water is processed through the Lewis Center for Environmental Studies “living machine” which processes waste water through a specialized plant and bacteria-based filtration system. These efforts, along with several other eco-friendly efforts has resulted in Oberlin being named to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) list of eco-friendly colleges several times.

The Ohio State University practices on-going eco-friendly efforts which makes it one of the best choices for students who wish to attend a university known for being one of the most eco-friendly campuses in the U.S. Ohio State fans first began recycling at Ohio Stadium “The Shoe” in 2007. In 2011, it was announced that the Shoe would become even more eco-friendly as Ohio State moved ahead with its “Zero Waste Initiative,” according to ‘OSU taking steps to make The Shoe more eco-friendly.’ In just one football season, OSU diverted more than 111 tons of waste from the landfill. Organic waste is being collected not only at the stadium, but according to Corey Hawker, the Ohio State program coordinator for energy and sustainability, at the Ohio Union, faculty club, Blackwell Inn and Fawcett Center. Ohio State says it is “setting a new standard for collegiate stadium recycling.”

These projects are just a mere drop in the bucket of eco-friendly programs at Ohio State University. Scarlet, Gray and Green points out that OSU has an “All-in-One recycling program, geo-thermal wells that are being utilized to transfer energy “to and from the earth for cooling and heating our residence halls,” food initiatives that includes 30 percent of food being purchased in Ohio as well as the provision of eco-friendly, biodegradable containers and utensils. The Ohio State University has four LEED-certified buildings and has plans to expand to even more. All of OSU’s diesel vehicles have the capability to run on B20 bio diesel, while all other OSU vehicles are capable of operating on E85, which is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.

Multiple sustainability programs operate on campus and the webpage which features sustainability and initiatives shows the programs, efforts and progress being made at Ohio State towards being eco-friendly as well as suggestions for “easy ways to go green with us.” The number and variety of research programs are astounding. Ohio State features more than two dozen research programs which aids in the focus of sustainability, “green” and sustainability.

When considering which college or university to attend, for some students, the efforts being made to be eco-friendly may be a major deciding factor. The initiatives and programs aimed at making colleges and universities in the United States may go a long way in not only helping the college become more eco-friendly, but can have the effect of helping students reduce their individual carbon footprint and educate others on how to be a driving force in “going green.”