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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

Alaskans experiencing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more frequent and extensive wildfires, deteriorating glaciers, and swift shoreline erosion More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs