web analytics
Aug 032010

From Green Right Now Reports

The Princeton Review has released its third annual green ratings list of colleges: a measure of how environmentally friendly the institutions are on a scale of 60 to 99. The company tallied the rating for 703 institutions based on its institutional surveys of colleges in 2009-10 concerning their environmentally related practices, policies and academic offerings.

The Green Rating scores appear in the profiles of the 703 schools that The Princeton Review has posted on www.PrincetonReview.com. They are also in the profiles of those schools in the new 2011 editions of three Princeton Review guidebooks: “The Best 373 Colleges” ($22.99) and “Complete Book of Colleges” ($26.99) – both on sale Aug. 3, and “The Best Northeastern Colleges” ($16.99) – on sale Aug. 10, all published by Random House.

The Princeton Review also named 18 colleges to its “2011 Green Rating Honor Roll” – a list of colleges that received the highest possible score (99) in its Green Rating tallies this year. Published in “The Best 373 Colleges” guidebook, the list includes (in alphabetical order):

  • Arizona State University (Tempe)
  • College of the Atlantic (Bar Harbor, Maine)
  • The Evergreen State College (Olympia, Wash.)
  • Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta)
  • Harvard College (Cambridge, Mass.)
  • Northeastern University (Boston)
  • Northland College (Ashland, Wisc.)
  • State University of New York – Binghamton University (Binghamton, N.Y.)
  • Unity College (Unity, Maine)
  • University of California – Berkeley (Calif.)
  • University of California – Santa Barbara (Calif.)
  • University of California – Santa Cruz (Calif.)
  • University of Georgia (Athens)
  • University of Maine (Orono)
  • University of Maryland – College Park
  • Warren Wilson College (Asheville, N.C.)
  • West Virginia University (Morgantown)
  • Yale University (New Haven, Conn.)

Nov 062009

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

As debates about climate change — does it exist and how serious is it? – rage on, many scientists continue to uncover more and more evidence that atmospheric pollution is having negative effects on Earth, right here and now, climate change or not.

Scientists studying the chemistry of lakes reported in a study published this week that atmospheric nitrogen released from the burning of fossil fuels and the widespread use of fertilizers in agriculture is altering the makeup of even remote bodies of water.

Alpine Lake

Green Lake 5 in Colorado (Photo: James Elser/ASU)

The study,  published in Science, found elevated nitrogen levels in alpine and subalpine lakes in Colorado, Sweden and Norway.

The added nitrogen changes the food composition of the aquatic environment, first by feeding the phytoplankton, and then other organisms as it moves up the food chain. With the lake’s plant life getting a disproportionate amount of nitrogen relative to other necessary minerals, like phosphorus, the “fundamental ecology,” of the lake is changed, according to the researchers.

This result of this new balance of minerals means that the phytoplankton, in essence, are eating differently (rather like when we hominids don’t get all our vitamins). The excess nitrogen restricts how much phosphorus they can absorb, and they become, in scientific lingo, “phosphorus limited.” And that’s not a good thing.

“We know that phosphorus-limited phytoplankton are poor food – basically ‘junk food’ for animal plankton, which in turn are food for fish,” said James Elser, a limnologist (people who study fresh water environments) in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University, who lead the study of collaborating US and Scandinavian scientists.

“Such a shift could potentially affect biodiversity,” Elser said. “However, we don’t really know, because, unlike in terrestrial systems, the impacts of nitrogen deposition on aquatic systems have not been widely studied.”

In other words, it’s possible that the lake life will adapt. Or not.

Elser’s collaborators include researchers Tom Andersen and Dag Hessen from the University of Oslo; Jill Baron of the United States Geological Survey and Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory at Colorado State University; Ann-Kristin Bergström and Mats Jansson with Umeå University, Sweden; and Koren Nydick of the Mountain Studies Institute in Colorado, in addition to members of his own group in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Marcia Kyle and Laura Steger

Elser and colleagues were supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Copyright © 2009 Green Right Now | Distributed by Noofangle Media

Oct 082009

By Ashley Phillips
Green Right Now

The SustainabCollege-Sustainability-Report-Card_July-21-783305le Endowments Institute released the 4th edition of its annual College Sustainability Report Card 2010, also known as the Green Report Card on Wednesday.

Founded in 2005 and supported by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, the Institute supports the advancement of sustainability in higher education. It boasts that its college ranking project had a response rate of 96 percent in 2009, giving the Green Report Card the highest response rate of any college sustainability ranking or rating service.

The Green Report Card graded 332 universities on a scale of 1 through 4 on their performance in nine categories:

  • Administration
  • Climate Change & Energy
  • Food & Recycling
  • Green Building
  • Transportation
  • Student Involvement
  • Endowment Transparency
  • Shareholder Engagement
  • Investment Priorities

Twenty-six schools received a 4.0:

  • Amherst College
  • Arizona State University
  • Brown University
  • University of California – San Diego
  • Carleton College
  • College of the Atlantic
  • University of Colorado
  • Dickinson College
  • Harvard University
  • Luther College
  • Macalester College
  • Middlebury College
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of New Hampshire
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Oberlin College
  • Pacific Lutheran University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Pomona College
  • Smith College
  • Stanford University
  • University of Vermont
  • University of Washington
  • Wesleyan University
  • Williams College
  • Yale University

Out of the 26 schools that earned a 4.0, 20 belong to the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC).

“We believe that report cards like this offer important opportunities to raise public awareness and apply pressure to schools to improve their sustainability efforts.  However, there are other useful considerations too, such as membership in the ACUPCC, whether the school is working towards climate neutrality, and what sustainability courses and research the school is providing,” stated Gina Coplon-Newfield, director of communications and outreach for Second Nature.

The total endowment value of the schools surveyed for this year’s Green Report Card is $325 billion. While the average endowment value dropped 23 percent in the last year, schools are not making cuts in sustainability. In fact, they are using sustainability to their advantage.

“Surprising the skeptics, most schools we surveyed did not let financial reversals undermine their green commitments,” said Mark Orlowski, executive director of the Sustainable Endowments Institute, in a statement. “New financial realities encouraged saving money by adopting environmentally friendly innovations.”

“Colleges are now taking pride in greener campuses and sustainability-savvy investments—increasingly important concerns for parents and students in choosing a school,” Orlowski said.

The Green Report Card allows a person to compare up to 10 schools at a time, filtered by more than 100 categories, such as geographic region, athletic league, environmental studies majors, sustainability jobs on campus, renewable energy use and many other factors.

Copyright © 2009 Green Right Now | Distributed by Noofangle Media

Aug 282009

By Ashley Phillips
Green Right Now

The U.S. Green Building Council, started 16 years ago, has 20,200 members and more than 50,000 LEED registered and certified projects around the world (80 percent are in the US).

And the group plans to get even bigger as it turns its attention to college campuses and enlists the help of students.

The USGBC is helping universities across the country to establish sustainability courses and USGBC student organizations, and of course, to build green. The Washington-based NGO estimates that there will be 4,300 LEED projects registered (underway) and certified (completed) on college campuses at the end of 2009.

The USGBC defines a green campus as “a higher education community that is improving energy efficiency, conserving resources, and enhancing environmental quality by educating for sustainability and creating healthy living and learning environments.”

The colleges and universities that do all that will serve as examples, not only for students, but for the larger community, pushing the green envelope and raising a generation for whom green is the norm.

“We are going to develop a generation of people that just are absolutely hardwired for … sustainable living,” said S. Richard Fedrizzi, CEO and Founding Chairman of the U.S. Green Building Council, in a recent speech in Chicago to national university leaders.

Universities and students will incubate new, more conserving and sustainable ways of engineering structures and living spaces, Fedrizzi said, which will lead to more accountability and transparency in building.

“If you can take a 99 cent box of crackers that tells you how much fat, how much protein, how much carbohydrates, how much sodium is in that box, and you as a consumer have the ability to chose it based on your health, based on your values, based on a number of things or not, this is a striking contrast when you realize we’ll spend 30 or 50 million dollars on a building and prior to LEED we never had that nutrition label,” said Fedrizzi.

LEED, he explained, will be a road map. Through LEED certification, people will have precise measures of a structure’s air quality, energy use, and the quality and origins of its materials.

Helping the environment is not the only advantage, there are economic, health, and community benefits as well, Fedrizzi said. According to the USGBC, green buildings can significantly reduce energy use, carbon emissions, water use, and solid waste, with an average savings of 35-70%  in each of these areas per year.

Colleges, typically the nexus of any societal changes, will help perfect, promote and energize the green building movement.

“We (colleges and universities) may comprise only 3% of the carbon footprint, but we represent 100% of the student footprint,” said Michael M. Crow, President of Arizona State University.

  • You can start a USGBC student group at your school.  With tools and resources from the USGBC you can pave the way on your campus.

Copyright © 2009 Green Right Now | Distributed by Noofangle Media

Sep 092008

By Barbara Kessler

College-bound high schoolers looking for an environmentally conscientious college should have no shortage of guidance this year. The Sierra Club has joined the Princeton Review in assessing the green creds of U.S. universities.

Actually, the venerable environmental group was first out with the idea, launching a “Cool Schools” rundown in 2007. Their second annual review, in the group’s Sept./Oct.Sierra magazine, settles on list of the top ten campuses — Ten That Get It — that includes colleges of all sizes from the East to the West. Continue reading »

Aug 152008

By Nima Kapadia

As college students make their way to campuses across the nation for the fall semester, many are thinking ahead to future careers in business, teaching, technology or sustainability. Sustainability?

Yes, says Arizona State University graduate student Brigitte Bavousett Hill, who hopes to use her Master’s Degree in Sustainability to help other countries lower their carbon footprints. Absolutely, says Carolyn Mattick, who is in the same program and wants to educate others about the impact of technology on the environment.

With experts predicting a boom in newly created green jobs, Bavousett Hill and Mattick are among a group of students who are making a green degree the starting point for a professional career. Green degree programs have so quickly become a trend that the Princeton Review began rating them this year.

The AASHE, which stands for the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, has seen a dramatic increase in the number of universities offering green degrees. Since 2006, the number has increased from a handful to several hundred in the U.S., says Julian Dautremont-Smith, associate director for AASHE.

“We’re seeing what impact movies such as An Inconvenient Truth can have on our society,” said Dautremont-Smith. “We’re also beginning to see that students are showing a demand to learn about environmental issues and that business have a demand to hire people with this knowledge.” Continue reading »