4 Universities Top the List for Going Green
The Earth Day Network highlighted some of the country’s greenest colleges and universities last week.
Here are their picks:
1. University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) for its commitment to water conservation. The school reduced water use by 20 percent, nine years before a target date of 2020 for all California public universities. UCSB plans to cut water use by another 20 percent by 2028 through its Water Action Plan, one of the most comprehensive water management plans created by a university.
The Water Action Plan was first proposed in 2012 by a group of six graduate students at UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science and Management. The first step was to conduct a massive water audit at the university. Next, the group of students wrote a series of recommendations to improve efficiency. The students recommended creating a new staff position to oversee water management, and the inclusion of water conservation in the academic curriculum.
2. American University (AU) for its waste management strategy. The Washington, D.C. university has pledged to reach zero waste by 2020, meaning it will no longer send any waste to the landfill. It’s an ambitious goal, but AU already is two-thirds of the way there, thanks to a massive composting program. Compost bins for organic waste are distributed throughout the campus. Other steps include reducing food waste in its dining halls. In 2009, the university’s main dining hall decided to eliminate trays, resulting in 32 percent reduction in food waste and a 27 percent reduction in dish use.
3. University of Minnesota, Morris (UM-Morris) for its renewable energy portfolio. The UM-Morris campus derives 70 percent of its electricity from two 1.65 megawatt wind turbines. One—operated by the West Central Research and Outreach Center—was built in 2005. The other turbine was built in 2011 and is operated by the university. This makes UM-Morris home to the first large-scale wind research turbines at a U.S. public university. On windy days, these two turbines can provide enough electricity to power the entire campus. Just one of the turbines generates 5.6 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year.
The university relies on a biomass plant for heating and cooling. The plant is powered by 9,000 tons of corn cobs and prairie grass biofuels purchased from local farms—all within 20 miles of Morris—every year, adding $500,000 to the local economy and providing enough energy for at least 150 days of heating and cooling. The biomass plant cuts the university’s fossil fuel use by 80 percent and eliminates 8,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year.
UM-Morris also generates solar power. The campus’s Regional Fitness Center is adorned with a 32-panel solar array, which heats the building’s swimming pool. These panels prevent 30,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere each year. The campus’s science buildings also have solar panels converting sunlight into electricity.
4. Evergreen State College in Washington state for managing its land responsibly and sustainably. The 1,000-acre campus is primarily composed of second-growth forest, which is a forest regenerated after harvests or severe disruptions like fire, storms or insects.
Dozens of trails wind through the trees, a few of which lead to Evergreen Beach, a unique coastal habitat in Puget Sound. The forest often is described as the campus’ primary classroom, and provides opportunities for ecological and scientific research. The grounds are carefully and sustainably managed. No herbicides or insecticides are used for landscaping. Some parts of the forest maintain reserve status, to minimize foot traffic and protect the region’s ecological balance—particularly the health of its watershed.
Five acres is devoted to agricultural and ecological studies. The plot includes a farmhouse, Demeter’s Gardens, Community Gardens, a compost facility, a workroom, tool shed, greenhouses and the 38,000-square-foot production area of the Organic Farm. Sheep and chickens are raised at the farm, as well as a diverse array of produce. Produce is sold through a local CSA farmshare and an on-campus farm stand. Some of the produce is also served in Evergreen’s dining halls. Students can intern at the farm for college credit.
Want to read about more green colleges and universities? In August, Sierra magazine released its seventh annual ranking of the nation’s “Coolest Schools,” a salute to U.S. colleges helping to solve climate problems and making significant efforts to operate sustainably.
Visit EcoWatch’s CLIMATE CHANGE pages for more related news on this topic.
By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
- Sweden to Become One of World's First Fossil Fuel-Free Nation s ... ›
- These Countries Are Leading the Transition to Sustainable Energy ... ›
- Sweden Shuts Down Its Last Coal Plant Two Years Early - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jessica Corbett
In another win for climate campaigners, leaders of 12 major cities around the world — collectively home to about 36 million people — committed Tuesday to divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in a green, just recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
- Oxford Endowment Ditches Fossil Fuels in 'Historic' Decision ... ›
- Fossil Fuel Divestment Debates on Campus Spotlight Societal Role ... ›
- London and New York Mayors Call on Other World Cities to Divest ... ›
By Jacob Wallace
This story is published as part of StudentNation's "Vision 2020: Election Stories From the Next Generation" reports from young journalists that center the concerns of diverse young voters. In this project, working with Dr. Sherri Williams, we recruited young journalists from different backgrounds to develop story ideas and reporting about their peers' concerns ahead of the most important election of our lives. We'll continue publishing two stories each week over the course of September.
In the speech she gave at the People's Climate March in Washington in 2017, Jansikwe Medina-Tayac, then 15, told a crowd of thousands, "This [climate change] is not just an environmental issue. This is a race issue, this is an immigration issue, this is a feminist issue."
- Youth Activists Urge Presidential Candidates to Address Climate ... ›
- Young Republican Climate Activists Split Over November's Election ... ›
- Activists Launch Youth 'Power Vote' Campaign to Turn Out Climate ... ›
The United States passed 200,000 deaths due to COVID-19 Tuesday and experts warn that number may double before the end of the year as an autumn surge in cases starts, according to USA Today.
- Thom Yorke of Radiohead Releases Song With Greenpeace to Help ... ›
- Patti Smith, Thom Yorke, Flea and More Featured on Just Released ... ›
- Musicians and Activists Unite at 'Pathway to Paris' - EcoWatch ›