Wildcats leading Kansas to a more sustainable future
Monday, August 3, 2009 - 23:10
The Princeton Review released its green honor roll last week, rating 697 institutions on a scale of 60 - 99 based on their environmentally-related policies, practices and academic programs.
A quick look at schools in Kansas revealed a depressing scenario for student environmentalists. Kansas State University was rated 84 followed by University of Kansas with an 81, Pittsburg scored 75, Fort Hays 73 and Emporia 69. Wichita State, located in the largest city of Kansas, and Washburn State University were not rated out of insufficient data.
According to a press release, the ratings were based on the following survey:
- The percentage of food expenditures that goes toward local, organic or otherwise environmentally preferable food
- Whether the school offers programs including free bus passes, universal access transit passes, bike sharing/renting, car sharing, carpool parking, vanpooling or guaranteed rides home to encourage alternatives to single-passenger automobile use for students
- Whether the school has a formal committee with participation from students that is devoted to advancing sustainability on campus
- Whether new buildings are required to be LEED (environmental certification of equipment/appliances) Silver certified or comparable
- The school's overall waste diversion rate
- Whether the school has an environmental studies major, minor or concentration
- Whether the school has an "environmental literacy" requirement
- Whether the school has produced a publicly available greenhouse gas emissions inventory and adopted a climate action plan consistent with 80 percent greenhouse gas reductions by 2050 targets
- What percentage of the school’s energy consumption, including heading/cooling and electrical, is derived from renewable sources (this definition included “green tags” but not nuclear or large-scale hydropower
- Whether the school employs a dedicated full-time (or full-time equivalent) sustainability officer.
I am not surprised to see K-State among the greenest colleges in Kansas. Last year, K-State appointed a director of sustainability to oversee and lead initiatives addressing sustainability issues on campus. The student government also created a cabinet position as a response to student demand to support policies and projects dealing with sustainability. This year, the school launched K-State's annual Leading Kansas in Sustainability Conference, to discuss ideas and projects and to raise awareness, make K-State a more environmentally-friendly campus, and Manhattan a more sustainable community.
The Leadership Studies building currently under construction is intended to be the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (or LEED) certified building on the K-State campus. In April, K-State dining facilities partnered with the student farm and the College of Agriculture to develop a composting plan for organic waste. And the list continues ...
We obviously have a lot of room to keep growing, but that doesn't keep me from being a proud Wildcat. Hopefully, K-State will become an example to be followed by other colleges in Kansas.