Does Your College Bleed Green?

How green is your campus? Does your dining hall serve local organic produce, does your student body take an active role in sustainability, do you have acres of surrounding woodland? Students take a lot of pride in their school’s athletic and academic achievements, or even in titles like “Hardest Partiers,” but what about their college or university’s environmental performance? Alchemy would like to give a shout out to five of the colleges and universities from around the country we think deserve some applause for their unique approaches to going green. After all, educating the next generation doesn’t count for much if they aren’t going to inherit a healthy planet.

1.) Colorado State (Fort Collins, CO)

Colorado State is a rock-star among public universities and private schools alike, thanks in part to their devotion to a green curriculum. Of their 58 departments, 54 offer at least one course engaging with sustainability issues, and their robust School of Global Environmental Sustainability offers 19 different majors. Their faculty includes hard-hitting environmentalists like Temple Grandin, author and animal welfare revolutionary (who was played by Claire Danes in an eponymous HBO movie). They also have 11 LEED Gold buildings, 15 acres of solar panels, and their tree nursery produces 2 million seedling annually.

2.) Green Mountain College (Poultney, Vermont)

This school was the second in the nation become climate-neutral, getting most of their energy from on-campus wind turbines, solar panels, and their partnership with Cow Power. Cow Power extracts methane gas from manure from Vermont’s dairy farms, converts it to electricity, and sells it to participants. The funds go to to local dairy farmers and the on-farm facilities. Unlike the sources of renewable energy most school turn to for their energy credits, Green Mountain is powered by a local source students can visit and learn about. Further, 46 percent of their graduates pursue careers in green jobs!

3.) Lewis & Clark College

Number one on the Princeton Review’s annual list of the greenest colleges, the green awareness of Lewis and Clark’s student body is outstanding. About 95 percent of the students at the College of Arts & Science voluntarily donate toward the purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates. 74 percent of their students take at least one class that includes sustainability learning, and 83 percent of students choose sustainable travel options like bikes. They also offer a unique certification program in Ecopsychology that teaches counseling psychologists to apply ecological research to their mental health practice. And their campus includes 95 acres of woodland to study and explore!

4.) University of California, Santa Barbara

UCSB is considered the greenest public university in the country, and the third greenest college generally. They have led the pack in retrofits, spending $2-3 million annually on efficient HVAC systems, LED lighting, and new insulated windows. Mostly, though, we love their TGIF program. The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF) was the first school water-action plan developed in the drought-vulnerable state of California. 90 percent of their landscaping is irrigated with recycled water, saving about 19 million gallons every year, and the seven-person committee has five student seats.

5.) College of the Atlantic (Bar Harbor, Maine)

This tiny, experimental college only has a few hundred students, and all of them are studying the same niche major: human ecology. Under the umbrella of “human ecology,” students are mostly able to define their own curriculum, planned around their interests and human relationships with the planet. They were the first college to go carbon neutral in 2007. The COA also owns 300 acres of farmland and forrest, and the vegetables, and the organic produce farmed by students comprises about 30 percent of the dining hall meals—and the compost from the dining halls is used on the farm!

Alchemy would also like to give a special shout-out to Pinchot University on Washington’s Bainbridge Island, which we personally know is doing some amazing work—Eli Reich, Alchemy Goods founder, took classes there. Pinchot offers MBAs in Sustainable Business (the first program of its kind in the country!), MBAs in Sustainable Systems, and Certificates in Sustainable Energy. For Seattle locals interested in a green continued education, Alchemy glowingly recommends Pinchot.

To these schools, their students, and all the other people working to combine sustainable practices and education: right on. Thank you. You get it. Green campuses have an impact that goes far beyond their energy or water savings of their campuses—they’re getting an entire generation of graduates interested, engaged, and concerned, and planting some big dreams for how the world could look someday.

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