Articles: Sustainability

Signatories to the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment, as of mid-May. --ACUPCC annual report

It doesn’t get greener than planting trees, and thanks to the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Campus USA program, colleges and universities are being recognized for their dedication to the most literal translation of going green.

It is becoming more and more fashionable to claim a greener identity, and it seems college students everywhere are excited to help the environment, particularly when their actions are visible to others.

“How much does LEED cost”? University administrators and facilities directors across the country are grappling with the need to design and construct their buildings sustainably with all the obvious long-term benefits but within their “first cost” budget.

There was a time, and not all that long ago, when many organizations looked at energy costs as a fixed cost of doing business over which they had little control.

Colleges and universities essentially operate as self-contained small cities, providing huge amounts of energy to its campuses, in increasing amounts, all day, every day.

In today’s discussions about buildings and architecture for higher education campuses, sustainability is touted for its positive environmental impact. However, sustainable design can be more than just responsible earth stewardship.

Colleges and universities are competing to build the most green, sustainably designed facilities. But some projects, by nature alone, have end uses, or are constructed with materials, that make it nearly impossible to secure U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED certification.

Over the past few decades, colleges and universities have engaged in a kind of facilities arms race to build new, state-of-the-art dormitories, dining halls, classrooms, athletic complexes, and fine arts centers.

"We're the new U." The tag-line is fitting for The University of North Texas at Dallas, which, in September became its own independent four-year university after a decade of being considered a branch campus of UNT in Denton.

More than 300 students from five Kirkwood Community College (Iowa) programs study in state-of-the-art kitchens and classrooms, working alongside a 70-person professional staff.

For many campus building projects, the period following schematic design is critical to the project's future. With the proposed design illustrating the building's significant forms, program, functional relationships and scale, the project enters the fundraising phase.

How committed are colleges and universities to sustainability and climate change--even at a time when such things as record enrollments combined with budget cuts and furloughs top most people’s list?

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