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Why This Matters: Colleges are setting a great example for other large institutions on reducing their energy consumption and switching to renewables. Yes – they are ideal places to lead the renewable energy transition because they are large energy users and are well suited to using microgrids to expand the use of renewable energy, as well as to use EVs. A 2020 Princeton Review survey of more than 10,000 college applicants found that two-thirds of them would factor in schools’ environmental commitments — including commitments related to energy use — when deciding where to attend. Another way that school rankings can drive excellence!
“Set a goal to obtain 100 percent of their energy from renewable sources – including for electricity, heating and other building energy needs, and campus-owned vehicles. To achieve this goal, schools should:
Reduce energy consumption through energy efficiency improvements and energy conservation initiatives including,
Use renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, to supply 100 percent of their electricity.
Transition all other building energy systems – including heating, hot water and cooling – to be electric or powered by renewable energy sources, such as solar hot water or ground-source heat pumps.
Swap all fossil-fuel powered vehicles for EVs.
Enable and encourage students and employees to commute to and from campus sustainably by walking, biking, taking transit, or using EVs.
Purchase goods and services – such as food and travel – that minimize the use of fossil fuels.”
How the Rankings Are Determined
The rankings in the report are based on colleges’ and universities’ most recent reports to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s (AASHE) Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). Of 127 colleges that reported data to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Green Power Partnership, an impressive 42 are now meeting at least 100 percent of their electricity needs with renewable energy generated by the university or purchased through power purchase agreements (PPAs) or renewable energy certificates (RECs). Seventy-six colleges are getting at least 50 percent of their energy from renewables. Hopefully, the improvements will continue despite the economic challenges that the COVID pandemic is causing schools and the trends will remain good once all students are able to return to campus life.
The most progressive corporate commitments this week involve nature-based mitigation and pushing sustainability out into their supply chains. Walmart pledged to do some big things, including achieving zero emissions by 2040 without carbon offsets, committing to protect and restore at least 50 million acres of land and one million square miles of ocean by 2030, and promising zero waste in the US, Canada, and Japan by 2025.
Why This Matters: Nature-based solutions have until now been seen as greenwashing. But these new commitments go much farther.
by Natasha Lasky, ODP Contributing Writer A 1000-foot stretch highway in Oroville, CA was recently repaved with recycled plastic and asphalt—the first time a state department has paved a road with 100% recycled materials. This durable recycled material can combat potholes, last two to three times longer than asphalt roads, and reuse about 150,000 single-use […]
Why This Matters: The report is another loudly ringing alarm bell that our current path is unsustainable — and we need to make a huge shift away from “business as usual” across a range of human activities.
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