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APR 22, 2021
All around the world, there is increased attention and priority on fostering an environmentally friendly and green-conscious student body. Many colleges have committed to using only locally-sourced food, renewable energy, expanding their environmental sciences programs, and cracking down on actions such as littering and wastefulness.
In conjunction with Earth Day, and hope for a better, cleaner future on Earth, here are a few top schools (in no particular order) that have embraced the mission to decrease their environmental footprint.
Located in Oberlin, Ohio, this Liberal Arts College instituted their OES to combine student and faculty involvement into making their campus more environmentally friendly. On the North Atlantic Field, Oberlin boasts a 2.27MW solar array to help power up to 12% of the college’s electricity usage, higher than the national average of 2.3%.
Since 2016, Middlebury has achieved its carbon neutrality goal, which means they have a net-zero carbon footprint. They’ve been able to maintain their impressive environmental awareness by using biomass to fuel much of Middlebury’s buildings, as well as growing their fruits and vegetables in their on-campus mega-garden. Since the conception of the student-initiative to be environmentally conscious in 2007, the NESCAC college has stood out by being the forerunner of clean energy usage in higher education.
In 2007, Cornell University became the first of the Ivy League institutions to embrace carbon neutrality. Cornell created the SCC to help further its commitment to environmental stability. Cornell made a verbal commitment to be carbon neutral by 2035, and as a part of that, they have locally sourced much of their food, expanded their environmental science programs, and placed significant emphasis on students being aware of their carbon footprint.
Despite doubling in campus size and space, UCSB reduced their carbon emissions to 20% below the levels in 1990, an impressive feat for a school as large as they are. Interestingly enough, UCSB emphasizes the dangers of furniture production and pledges to purchase furniture that is healthy for the environment, both in use and production.
Stanford, as always, boasts some impressive statistics. Compared to 2000, they have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by 72%, their energy intensity and landfill waste by 26%, and their domestic water use by 45%! Stanford has also ranked the best university in which to study environmental science since 2019. This Palo Alto behemoth is one of California’s greenest universities.
Dubbed “Green Colby,” this Waterville, Maine Liberal Arts College was one of the first colleges to achieve carbon neutrality, reportedly in April of 2013. On another list of firsts, Colby College instituted one of the nation’s first environmental science programs in 1970 and currently has one of the best Ocean Science Laboratories in the form of Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Science.
Joining UCSB and Stanford in our list of Californian environmentally clean schools, Berkeley started to get serious about its environmental footprint around 2007. With a bold commitment to purchase only clean energy by 2025, Berkeley is one of the best public schools for environmental policy, environmental engineering, and sustainability. With some of the most resources set aside for sustainable research, Berkeley is paving the way for public schools to be conscious of their ecological footprint.
Two Earth Days ago, when things were slightly more normal and less pandemic-y, Vanderbilt revealed their FutureVU plan to improve the university’s impact on the environment and put them on track to be carbon neutral by 2050. With studies like the BlueSky Energy Vision Study, the Large-Scale Renewable Energy Study, and MoveVU, Vanderbilt is making enormous administrative strides to a healthier output.
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Alex is a longtime Crimson student who was admitted to Middlebury College to study physics. He enjoys poetry, history, philosophy, Spanish, and of course — physics! In his free time, he enjoys writing, exercising, and spending time with his friends.