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

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid