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AASHE Releases Annual Review of Sustainability in Higher Education

aashe.jpgDuring 2007, 452 presidents and chancellors committed to climate neutrality by signing the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, and at least 35 other colleges and universities announced their own climate commitments and energy conservation plans, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education reports.

In what looks like a comprehensive review of campus sustainability efforts across the U.S. and Canada, the 230-page AASHE Digest 2007 (PDF) documents the continued growth in these and looks at educational programs, research centers, green building elements of campuses, other energy efficiency measures, transportation issues and more.

Among the highlights of 2007:

  • The number of schools with commitments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions skyrocketed, from fewer than 20 to almost 500 institutions;
  • More than 60 higher education green buildings were planned, started, opened, or awarded LEED certification in 2007;
  • At least 25 campuses posted hiring announcements for sustainability directors, managers, and coordinators, up from 11 in 2006;
  • At least 27 schools launched sustainability-themed degrees, certificates, or academic programs in 2007, up from 22 in 2006 and three in 2005.

The AASHE Digest is among at least six separate attempts to evaluate campus sustainability performance in 2007, ranging from the Sustainable Endowments Institute’s College Sustainability Report Card to Grist magazine’s “15 Green Colleges and Universities.” AASHE entered the field as well with the release of the first draft of its Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS).

Juice Energy put together a list of what the leading conferences are doing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The College Sustainability Report Card 2008 (PDF) also ranked colleges across the U.S. and Canada on their green practices and policies, noting that more than two out of three schools improved performance.

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