Go, Green! How Colleges Across the Country are Becoming More Sustainable

But Miami University isn’t the only school with a commitment to LEED certification. At the University of Maine, HC Contributing Writer Kayla Riley says there has been a huge initiative for everyone on campus to go green. “This includes a recently built LEED-certified dining hall called Wells Commons and Conference Center and, this year, the addition of a single-stream recycling in residential buildings,” Kayla said.
 
LEED certification may be the most popular way for schools to go green, but it certainly isn’t the only one. HC Editor Alice Chen says her school, Emory University, has a variety of sustainable practices on campus. “Every week Emory holds a sustainable food fair, during which local growers sell their products, and the University even has its own garden in the middle of campus,” she said. “All the shuttles run on oil collected from the kitchens of our dining locations and almost all of the toilets are dual-flush.”
 
Does Sustainability Affect Where Students Choose to Attend College?
With more universities deciding to implement sustainable practices each year, is this affecting the number or types of students that the schools attract?
 
According to a recent poll by The Princeton Review, approximately 69 percent of students consider a school’s sustainability commitment when making their decision about where to attend college, compared to 64 percent in 2008. Though academics and financial aid still rank higher, The Princeton Review has reported that prospective students are more likely to consider sustainability than they did in the past.
 
Additionally, specific schools may attract environmentally-aware students depending on their respective locations. Crystal Simmons, sustainability specialist at Appalachian State University, says this is certainly true at her school.
 
“Appalachian State University is located in a pristine mountain environment where the outdoor activities are boundless,” she said. “We naturally attract students, faculty and staff that have an appreciation for the natural environment.”
 
Does Going Green Cost More For Students?
Though many students might agree with implementing sustainability practices, some might wonder how LEED certification and alternative fuel costs are affecting tuition and other fees. However, universities have developed a variety of ways to fund their green initiatives.
 
At Appalachian State, there is a $5 fee per student per semester for renewable energy installations. “Other measures that have been implemented, such as energy efficient retrofits, have been funded by the cost savings of the retrofit,” said Simmons.
 
At Miami University, 50 million of the 65 million dollars needed to construct the new LEED certified Farmer School of Business came exclusively from private donations. The other 15 million came from university-issued bonds—not from students.