News / USA

On US Campuses, Major Environmental Changes

Meghan Chapple-Brown, director of Sustainability, stands by some of the solar hot-water systems that are on the rooftops of several buildings at George Washington University in urban Washington, D.C., June 2011
Meghan Chapple-Brown, director of Sustainability, stands by some of the solar hot-water systems that are on the rooftops of several buildings at George Washington University in urban Washington, D.C., June 2011

Multimedia

Zulima Palacio

More than 300 universities across the U.S. are turning green, meaning environmentally oriented. They are building sustainable facilities, renovating buildings, connecting solar and wind systems, planting organic gardens and reducing their overall carbon footprints. They also have  initiated academic programs on environmental issues. Experts call it the largest transformation of colleges and universities in the last few decades.

George Washington University - in urban Washington, D.C. - is having a good strawberry harvest. The sunflowers grew back after the winter, and the zucchinis are looking good. Eloise Smith just graduated from GW and is looking after its community garden.

"These are the little squash blossoms," she said. "You pick the male ones because those aren’t the ones that will turn into the vegetable."

This is one of two gardens tended by student volunteers. But most important, this is only one of several sustainability programs at George Washington University.

There are new green buildings, which means they are built to affect the environment as little as possible. There are recycling programs, green roofs and even a GW television and multimedia show on the environment.

Meghan Chapple-Brown, director of Sustainability, said, "We've got an integrated system on this building and two other buildings that make the East Coast the largest array of solar hot water."

She said the greening of the university, now 10 years in the making, has evolved in three areas.

"Climate, water and eco-systems," said Chapple-Brown. "We have begun a great project on the ground that addresses climate change. We are planning on becoming carbon neutral and impact-reducing our foot print by 40 percent by 2025. So everything from there being solar hot- water systems on our rooftops, to making our building much more energy efficient."

The university is investing roughly $2 million on greening its campus. Some of the investments are already paying off with lower water and energy bills.

Sophie Waskow manages the Sustainability Office. "This is a rain barrel and is connected to a down spout from the roof of this residence hall," she said. The rain collectors here feed the greenery at the university and prevent more runoff into the Potomac River.

Chapple-Brown said the school, with 20,000 students, now offers 140 different courses on sustainability and the environment. She said prospective students have been key drivers of change.

"The other thing they are looking at is at the green aspects of the university. We know that is a really important factor and our students voice those concerns when they get here," Chapple-Brown.

More than two thirds of high school students consider a school's environmental performance when they select a university, according to the Sustainable Endowments Institute, a non-profit organization. Executive Director Mark Orlowski said that in the past five years, more than 300 colleges and universities around the country have moved toward sustainability.

“We have seen numbers like less than 20 percent of schools had a green building policy five years ago, and now upwards of 80 percent of schools having a policy, which states that their new building will be built in a green fashion,” said Orlowski.

Orlowski said colleges and universities around the world are starting to look into the economic aspects of greening campuses. He said students and universities are trying to meet today's needs without compromising future generations.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regreti
X
Zana Omer
March 28, 2015 1:19 AM
The Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

The Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Virginia Tavern Takes Patrons Back to Medieval Times

European martial arts are not widely practiced and are unknown by most people. A tavern in Old Town Alexandria, outside Washington, wants to change this by promoting these fighting techniques from medieval times. Through combining visual arts, martial arts and culinary arts, this tavern brings medieval history back to life. VOA's Yang Lin and Helen Wu report.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More