Capital News Service

of the Michigan State University School of Journalism

Green campuses get spot in national honor roll

By YANAN CHEN
Capital News Service

LANSING— Several Michigan colleges and universities have made a national list of 311 green campuses.

The list includes Grand Valley State University, Western Michigan University, Aquinas College, University of Michigan and Kalamazoo College.

And according to the guide, when students chose colleges or universities, they look not only into academic levels but also consider whether the schools are committed to going green.

The roster was compiled by Princeton Review, an American-based standardized test preparation and admissions consulting company. The guide was based on factors such as whether students have a campus quality of life that is healthy and sustainable, how well a school is preparing students for employment in the economy and how environmentally responsible a school’s policies are.

Each institution has its own ways to keep its campus green and sustainable.

For example, Grand Valley State University implemented a composting program intended to take care of all its food waste, including the waste generated during the preparation process and after meals.

The university has two kinds of bins in each dining hall. One is named “landfill” and the other “compost” with images on them so it’s easy for students to know what type of items can be composted.

The program started at 2009 and the campus generates 20,000 pounds of compostable waste per week.

Students and alumnus also take efforts to advocate green campus. Tony Rotman, a psychology alumnus in GVSU is a big support of the usage of green furniture, which is produced by materials from sustainable forests and has low toxic material levels.

He said he wants to reduce fuel and energy consumption by advocating green furniture on campus.

Western Michigan University has a water conservation program to contain storm water runoff, provide a natural, pleasing environment for the people who use it.

Its program includes irrigation control, low-flow showers and faucets, chemical free water treatment and other water conservation methods.

In Grand Rapids, Aquinas College has integrated sustainability topics into the curriculum and introduced the first undergraduate program in sustainable business in the United States.

Sustainable business builds profitability and economic stability, restores the health of natural systems and promotes prosperous communities, according to Deborah Steketee, associate professor of sustainable business.

The University of Michigan has “Planet Blue” operations teams which lead an environmental conservation campaign of technology reform to reduce energy use. The team have reduced energy use in 44 campus building by 12 percent and saved $3.5 million annually.

Anuja Mudali, the communication specialist at the U-M, introduced that the aim of this team is to conserve utilities and increase recycling to save money and benefit the environment.

The team has a three-year project designed to engage building occupants in energy efficiency and environmental awareness in 90 building.

Mudali also said from 2004 to 2008, energy use decreased 4 percent and space increased 10 percent in campus.

Kalamazoo College’s Farms to College program aims to build relationships between the College and local farmers to increase the amount of locally-grown food served in the cafeteria and support the local food system.

It also helps students to understand that choosing to buy and eat locally-grown foods is healthier for their bodies as well as the environment for eating locally uses less fossil fuel for food production and transportation.

© 2011, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism. Not to be reproduced without permission.

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