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

TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Parents of Disaster Ferry Passengers Lash Out at Authorities

Twenty-nine bodies recovered from water but some 270 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

US congressional delegation initiates $84 million Agent Orange cleanup project More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid