News / USA

American Colleges are Going Green

And it has nothing to do with their lovely lawns

Almost 700 roof-mounted panels help to power the environmental-studies building at Oberlin College in Ohio, which is routinely included in top-20 lists of America's greenest colleges.
Almost 700 roof-mounted panels help to power the environmental-studies building at Oberlin College in Ohio, which is routinely included in top-20 lists of America's greenest colleges.

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Ted Landphair

The nickname of sports teams at Tulane University in New Orleans is the Green Wave.  North Texas University's squads are the Mean Green.  Once called the Indians, Dartmouth College's teams are now the Big Green.

Green is in in college sports.  But there's an even bigger green wave in the classroom.

Last year alone, colleges and universities across the country created more than 100 major or minor programs in energy, sustainability, environmental studies and other so-called green subjects.

Evergreen State College in Olympia, capital city of the State of Washington, has purchased a fleet of electric cars to replace many of its gasoline and diesel vehicles.
Evergreen State College in Olympia, capital city of the State of Washington, has purchased a fleet of electric cars to replace many of its gasoline and diesel vehicles.

Two reasons for this: Even in a tight economy, green industries are offering good jobs to graduates.  And students and their parents are pressuring colleges to train them for these jobs.  So college architecture, agriculture, and engineering departments are launching green-studies programs to do just that.

According to the USA Today newspaper, the Obama Administration estimates that opportunities in energy and environmental occupations will grow by 52 percent by 2016 - compared to just a 14-percent increase in other fields.

Colleges are going green - just not this kind. This postcard view of a Vassar College dormitory and spacious greensward in Poughkeepsie, New York, was created in 1904.
Colleges are going green - just not this kind. This postcard view of a Vassar College dormitory and spacious greensward in Poughkeepsie, New York, was created in 1904.

Ten years ago at the University of California-Berkeley, just 40 students enrolled in an introductory class on the subject of energy.  This year, 270 students are taking the class.

There are energy CLUBS on campus. The one at Massachusetts Institute of Technology has 1,700 members. And at Arizona State University, 600 students have declared sustainability as their major.  

Not long ago, even top college students would likely have had trouble defining sustainability.  Now, a lot of them are specializing in it.

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