Sustainable Colleges and Universities
As many have heard, energy produced by fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas are leading contributors of greenhouse gas emissions, not to mention the other nasty chemicals their use spews into our air, water and ground. With so many large buildings that need to be heated and cooled, colleges and universities can make significant contributions to more sustainable uses of energy. These are some of the innovative ways they’re doing it.
Campuses across the country are reducing their dependence on fossil fuels by installing solar. Several campuses are now 100 percent fossil fuel-free, many are getting closer. The top 30 alternative-energy campuses in the country produce nearly 2 billion kilowatt hours of electricity, enough to power 187,000 homes annually according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Rooftops are among the least-utilized parts of buildings and are perfect sites for solar panels.
They don’t build them like they used to, and for most appliances, that’s a good thing. Modern appliances are much more efficient than those of the past, and colleges have been busy replacing their old furnaces, air conditioning systems, refrigerators, stoves and heaters for more efficient ones. Appliances use about 13 percent of the energy in the average house imagine how these costs add up across a campus!
As we face an expanding population, climate change, and polluted air, water and food, there is growing consensus that we need to change the way we do things in all sectors of our society if we are to provide for today’s needs without sacrificing the well-being of future generations. Of course, we don’t have all the answers yet, which creates enormous opportunities for college students to make a difference and create a meaningful career in the process. Luckily, innovative solutions which are the seeds of our sustainable future are sprouting on college and university campuses around the country. The ideas and resources here highlight ways students can become environmental leaders and campuses can cultivate a greener, happier and healthier world.
Light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs use 75 percent less energy than incandescents. They cost a pretty penny, but their lifespans can be measured in decades, making up for the initial cost. And using less energy means creating less pollution. A single large college can save six figures on its annual energy bills and offset a small forest’s worth of carbon dioxide emissions with LED lighting alone.
According to the Sierra Club the top three sustainable colleges in the country are 1. University of California Irvine 2. University of California Davis 3. University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. https://www.sierraclub.org/top-ten-americas-greenest-universities
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