Celebrating the 2020 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools

Green Strides Design


          U.S. Department of Education

   Green Strides

Meet the 2020 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees

Each day this week, we’ll be spotlighting a few of the 2020 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools around a theme. Today, we bring you some of the Postsecondary Sustainability Awardees.

Truckee Meadows Community College tiny house building

Truckee Meadows Community College; Reno, Nevada

Truckee Meadows Community College (TMCC) serves more than 25,000 students each year at four educational sites and more than 20 community locations. Its Sustainability Champions Committee reports to the president’s and planning council meetings. One hundred percent of TMCC energy service is from renewable energy. With rebates from NV Energy, TMCC installed solar panels at no cost to the College. The arrays can be tracked online and on campus dashboards. TMCC has two electric vehicle charging stations, a free bus pass program, a carpooling bulletin board, a bike-to-work week, and a bike repair station. A mobile phone app allows students to reuse, save, and compete in waste reduction/reuse efforts. All TMCC campuses are pesticide free. TMCC uses ECOLOGO-certified and Green Seal custodial products. The community garden supplies an on-campus food pantry for under-resourced students. Some sustainability courses offered include Design with Nature, Design with Climate, Environmental Health, Ecosystems, and Zero Waste Initiative. TMCC offers associate degrees of applied science in construction and design and energy technologies. The Sustainability Champions Committee has led over 50 one-on-one meetings with teaching faculty focusing on embedding green concepts and best practices into classroom pedagogy. Students engage in real-world problem- solving through the lens of sustainability to address the challenges of the homeless, create interpretive nature trails, study diminishing Monarch butterfly populations, conduct watershed studies, and examine snow levels in nearby mountain ranges.

Furman University solar farm research

Furman University; Greenville, South Carolina

Furman University has won numerous national awards for its sustainability efforts, including the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System gold rating for campus sustainability. The Shi Institute for Sustainable Communities serves as the University’s interdisciplinary academic sustainability hub. The Institute offers a wide array of faculty, staff, student, and community development programs, including: 1) an Affiliate Faculty Program, designed to stimulate interdisciplinary collaboration and course development around sustainability; 2) a Student Fellows Program for sustainability research and action around campus; and 3) the Community Conservation Corps, a free home weatherization program for low-income residents. Some recent accomplishments include working with the facilities division to implement sustainable landscaping and construction practices, providing opportunities for students to solve sustainability problems on campus, creating a framework for a zero-waste campus, and hosting an AASHE Hub workshop on integrating sustainability into curriculum through campus living/learning laboratories. Furman requires that all students take a Humans and the Natural Environment course to graduate. Furman offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Sustainability Science. The University supports multiple, one-year engaged living programs, including 1) the Greenbelt Community, an intentional living, learning community intended to foster sustainable living and lifestyle choices in four eco-cabins; and 2) the Environmental Community of Students, a first-year program focused on global sustainability issues. In the residence halls, Furman’s EcoReps program has become the main catalyst for sustainable behavior change. Furman has installed an extensive geothermal system for its upper-class residences and a 743-kW solar farm on a 6-acre site at the campus’s main entrance. A locally owned flock of sheep manages the grass on the solar farm. Furman boasts eight LEED-certified buildings on campus. Other innovative campus operations that incorporate sustainable design technologies and provide student learning opportunities include: 1) the Living Machine, a tidal wetland wastewater treatment system that treats campus wastewater and uses the treated water for toilet flushing; and 2) the Furman Farm and hydroponic system that provides the dining hall with fresh produce and composts all dining hall food waste for use on the farm.

University of Wisconsin Whitewater day of service seed gathering

University of Wisconsin-Whitewater; Whitewater, Wisconsin

The University of Wisconsin (UW)-Whitewater is a signatory of the Second Nature Carbon Commitment and a signatory of the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment. As the campus has grown, energy efficiency projects in lighting, building envelope, and HVAC have lowered the overall energy use per gross square foot of space by 7%. There are two LEED-certified constructions on campus. A 32.4-kW solar array provides approximately 45,000 kWh of electricity each year. The campus is a member of Zimride, an online ride-sharing user database. Food waste in dining halls is recovered on the pre- and post-consumer side and put into industrial grinders for processing at the wastewater treatment plant. Used cooking oil is recycled for use as a biofuel. University Housing partners with Goodwill Industries to coordinate a collection event as part of the move-out activities. Grounds staff minimizes use of pesticides through integrated pest management. On-site therapeutic massage therapy is available to faculty, staff, and students. The Relaxation Room is a private, quiet space to develop and practice relaxation skills to enhance overall well-being using a wide variety of mindfulness resources. The Outdoor Adventure Club engages students in a wide variety of outdoor activities, including camping, kayaking/canoeing, and rock climbing. The UW-Whitewater Campus Garden has served as a hub for community education for gardening techniques and support of public gardening efforts. The Sustainability Office helps manage the UW-Whitewater Nature Preserve, a 100-acre tract of land on the north end of campus that features a 40-acre woodland and 55-acre prairie reconstruction project. The Sustainability Office engages volunteers to collect seeds from native prairie plants in the UW-Whitewater Nature Preserve. The environmental science major prepares students to face the challenges of a changing world. Courses offer a strong and diverse foundation for a rewarding career in a green future. The Sustainability Office hosts annual stream cleanup events in the local waterway and participates in the Water Action Volunteers citizen science program. The Eco-Reps program strives to engage students in peer-to-peer sustainable living tips and techniques through engaging programming and marketing efforts.

College of Lake County prairie study

College of Lake County; Grayslake, Illinois

In 2019, the College of Lake County (CLC) received LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for its Science and Engineering Building, earning more green building points of any new construction project in the state. Across the campus, the College has invested in solar and geothermal, resource-conserving retrofits, and efficient waste management. In 2017, CLC completed over 2,500 feet of bioswales in its parking lots. CLC conducts waste audits every couple of years to measure its success in diverting waste from landfills. The campus farm produces vegetables and herbs organically. Six hives are maintained on the campus farm, providing pollinator services, honey, and educational opportunities. CLC honey is sold in the campus bookstore and used in the café. CLC spent two years examining how sustainability fits within (and how it can be extended across) the curriculum. The Living Lab Trail helps campus visitors to understand what sustainable technologies are working behind the scenes. CLC is a founding member and administrative agent of the Illinois Green Economy Network, a consortium of Illinois community colleges working together to share resources, common experiences, and best practices to help grow the new green economy.

Kennesaw State University field station

Kennesaw State University; Kennesaw, Georgia

The Kennesaw State University (KSU) Climate Action Plan has set out proposals and initiatives for promoting behavioral changes, enacting university policies, and initiating projects in the areas of transportation, energy consumption, water use, and solid waste removal. There are now 22 LEED-certified buildings across both campuses. There is over 15 kW of solar arrays on the Marietta campus. The Energy and Water Dashboard is a joint initiative of the Office of Sustainability and Maintenance and Operations to allow students, staff, and faculty to view utility data for select buildings. The KSU Field Station has been used to grow up to 20,000 pounds of produce annually for the dining hall. Four greenhouses also dot the landscape. Kennesaw State has a presidential commission on sustainability, which serves as an advisory body at the University to promote and support collaborative efforts. KSU promotes the use of the living learning spaces, including the KSU Hickory Grove Farm, The Oasis outdoor classroom, the KSU Dining garden, the Living Wall in The Commons, the permaculture garden, the arboretum, the greenhouse, and the solar photovoltaic system.