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The Environmentally Friendly College: Merging Academic Excellence With Carbon Neutrality

Arizona State University campus, an example of colleges with carbon neutrality

College students, perhaps more than any other single group in American society, are concerned about the environment and how the damage being done to it affects their future. Perhaps this is why many colleges and universities are making the effort to change the way things are done on campus to move towards, and hopefully, achieve carbon neutrality.

Carbon neutrality is a new selling point for educational institutions but in the highly competitive world of college admissions, every advantage helps. Consistently, high school students looking at colleges say they are concerned about how much of an impact they and their schools make on the environment. All things being equal, students would rather attend a college that has taken steps to reduce the net amount of carbon they release into the atmosphere.

Carbon Neutral Colleges and Universities

Some schools have already achieved carbon neutrality, but only a very few considering the large amounts of these institutions in the United States. Here are the colleges and universities who had achieved this goal of carbon neutrality by the end of 2020:

  • Colby College – located in Waterville, Maine, Colby was the leader, achieving carbon neutrality in 2013.
  • Bates College – located in Lewiston, Maine, carbon neutral in 2016.
  • Middlebury College – located in Middlebury, Vermont, carbon neutral in 2016.
  • American University – located in Washington D.C., carbon neutral in 2018.
  • Bowdoin College – located in Brunswick, Maine, carbon neutral in 2018.
  • The University of San Francisco – located in San Francisco, California, carbon neutral in 2019.
  • Colgate University – located in Hamilton, New York, carbon neutral in 2019.
  • Dickinson College – located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, carbon neutral in 2020.
  • Colorado College – located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, carbon neutral in 2020.
  • Allegheny College – located in Meadville, Pennsylvania, carbon neutral in 2020.

Colleges and Universities with a Plan for Carbon Neutrality

Many other colleges and universities, like Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania have pledged to become carbon neutral in the near future.

Bryn Mawr devised a Climate Action Plan that involves the whole academic community, including students, administrators, professors, and all the many unsung heroes of campus life. The plan calls for reducing carbon emissions by converting to wind power, upgrading HVAC systems, switching from gas to electric-powered cars and power-saving initiatives to be adopted by each individual. In addition to reducing the amount of carbon produced, Bryn Mawr will further lessen its carbon footprint by implementing an aggressive tree-planting program.

Arizona State University also has a plan. This was no small feat considering they have nine learning centers scattered around Arizona and over 90,000 on-campus students. To help them work towards carbon neutrality, ASU enlisted the help of Envocore, an industry leader in providing innovative energy solutions to reduce carbon emissions, largely by reducing overall power consumption.

ASU’s goal is complete carbon neutrality by 2025. So far, they have reduced their electricity consumption by over 50% and saved over half a million dollars in utility payments.

How’s It Done?

There are many things that colleges and universities can do to reduce their carbon footprint, many of which also result in overall energy savings. The most substantial improvement, to date, in ASU’s ESCO plan was as simple as changing all the lighting fixtures on campus to LED lights.

While reducing electricity consumption by raising efficiency is a good start, it alone is not enough. All members of the campus community must make a concerted effort to reduce their own personal consumption. Changing where the campus gets its power from, as Bryn Mawr did, also makes a huge difference in the amount of carbon generated.

Every individual should be taking the time to consider the depth of their carbon footprint. While it may not be possible for everyone to become carbon neutral at this point it is a worthy goal to work towards. If all institutions of higher learning were to achieve net carbon neutrality that would go a long way in our nation’s battle to protect the environment. In addition, they would turn out a whole generation of educated Americans who not only understand the importance of becoming carbon neutral but also how to achieve that goal.

To find out more about how you, your college, or the industry you work in can make changes to work towards carbon neutrality, contact us at Envocore.

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