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Colleges Selling Their Green Bona Fides to Students

Colleges are using their green credentials to burnish their reputations with prospective students, according to a report in USA Today.

The paper reported that according to 2010’s College Sustainability Report Card, 69 percent of colleges and universities are now including environmental pitches into their admission and enrollment systems, a massive increase from the 27 percent from the year before. The College Sustainability Report Card is produced by the Sustainable Endowments Institute in Massachusetts.

As part of the pitch, colleges are showing off new energy efficient buildings and introducing students to their recycling programs. The paper reported that at the American University, the school uses online communication methods to interact with new students, reducing its demand for paper. Colorado State University, meanwhile, is publicizing the fact that it is building what may be the largest solar power plant on a college campus in the country, and uses batter powered vans to take families on tours of their campus. The paper interviewed one student at the University of Colorado at Boulder who said she chose its business school specifically because it offered an MBA program with a focus on sustainability issues.

Texas A&M publicized that it has managed to reduce its energy intensity by 33 percent while expanding the size of the campus. The University of California, San Diego touted the $900,000 it saved by incorporating an energy dashboard. Even many college athletic departments are starting to see their environmental footprints as a top priority.

Over half of the schools surveyed by the College Sustainability Report Card have made a carbon reduction commitment. Increased attention to climate change is reflected at an impressive 58 percent of the schools through a commitment to carbon reduction. Fifty-two percent of the schools have signed the Presidents’ Climate Commitment, while 23 percent made carbon reduction commitments in addition to, or instead of, the Presidents’ Climate Commitment.

Nearly half of the schools produce renewable energy on campus. Facilities for producing solar, wind, bio, or geothermal energy are in operation at 45 percent of the schools.

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