With natural disasters aplenty and talk of global warming constantly in the news, there are more incentives than ever before for college students to go green.
Prospective college students looking to learn about, and ultimately confront, concerns surrounding the environment should certainly look into attending a green college, where their curiosity and passion will not only be nourished, but also put to good use.
While most schools encourage recycling and may even offer buildings with solar technology to reduce electricity use, a few colleges take extra steps to earn the title of “green college” through innovative approaches to sustainability and courses enriched with the ethos of what it means to be ecologically aware.
The following green colleges stand out for setting goals and making impressive motions to achieve them. They should serve as an inspiration to other colleges looking to go green.
Harvard University: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Harvard University is recognized as a green college due to its strides in understanding the problems caused by climate change. Students incorporate the skills learned from courses in sustainability, putting them to use in their day-to-day life.
As a result, Harvard has impressive rates in recycling, composting and drive-alone — the term used to describe those who do not carpool or utilize public transportation — reduction, all while continuing to reduce emissions.
Oberlin College: Oberlin, Ohio
Offering eco-friendly features like a bike co-op and locally grown, organic cuisine in campus cafeterias, Oberlin gets closer and closer to its goal of being a fully sustainable, carbon-neutral green college annually. Exclusive school-wide functions such as the “Ecolympics” — a competition between dorms to reduce electricity and water use — promote campus unity and school spirit all while raising ecological awareness.
Arizona State University: Tempe, Arizona
ASU proudly boasts about having the largest number of solar panels on a single US campus, making it a very notable green college indeed. ASU also heavily promotes alternatives to driving by offering free bike rentals and carpooling on campus. Remaining well-rounded, ASU offers special degree programs via its School of Sustainability, where students are challenged to find solutions to ecological problems plaguing the world.
University of New Hampshire: Durham, New Hampshire
The University of New Hampshire is a green college that truly seeks to inspire and educate its students about the benefits of sustainability. Not only is most of the school’s energy a product of landfill gas, UNH offers an organic farm for research, as well as a dual major in EcoGastronomy, the study of all complexities surrounding the growing, cooking and eating of organic foods.
Oregon State University: Corvallis, Oregon
Oregon State University is a green college that effectively utilizes its student body to help promote sustainability. The school’s rec center is home to a massive solar hot water system, which is powered through the use of elliptical machines, giving new meaning to the phrase “man-made power.”
In addition to the courses offered in the field of ecology, OSU also excels at carbon offsets (a reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases made in order to compensate for an emission), recycling and waste management, showing that the college really does practice what it preaches.
Warren Wilson College: Asheville, North Carolina
Warren Wilson has been highly recognized for its strides in sustainability. The school has been the recipient of many awards; in 2008, Sierra Magazine ranked it the 4th best college in the nation to “stand for an overall commitment to sustainability.” And with good reason: this green college specializes in waste management, successfully composting all waste from dining halls.
Warren Wilson is also home to the student-built EcoDorm, with lots of fun features, such as solar panels on the windows and a rain irrigation system that provides water for a nearby garden.
State University of New York at Binghamton: Binghamton, New York
SUNY Binghamton uses creative techniques to get its students excited about energy conservation. Much like Oberlin’s “Ecolympics,” SUNY hosts an energy conservation contest between residence halls to remarkable results; in 2009, this was found to produce a 7.5 percent reduction in energy use.
Even if you don’t wind up choosing a green college, there are still ways to raise awareness and conserve energy on any campus. Get involved by starting a club and organizing events — maybe you could even host your own conservation contest! — to help get your school’s name out there. Every college got its start at going green somewhere — maybe this time around, it will be from you.