OGDEN, Utah – There are cool schools, and then there are “Cool Schools,” and according to Sierra Magazine’s rankings, Weber State University is officially one of them.
Institutions of higher education across the country were surveyed and ranked according to their sustainability efforts, taking into account everything from “waging war on emissions to serving sustainable foods to teaching a verdant curriculum.”
The survey, officially called the Campus Sustainability Data Collector, is a collaborative effort of four organizations: the Sierra Club, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, the Sustainable Endowments Institute and the Princeton Review.
The survey questions centered on measurable environmental goals and achievements, and when the results were released, WSU ranked 74th in the nation.
Part of this success is due to the Environmental Issues Committee, which has worked for many years to build partnerships across campus to create greater awareness of sustainability issues. From environmentally themed programs of study to a new-car sharing service, the committee has helped lead meaningful change in all areas of campus life.
English professor Hal Crimmel is the former chair of the committee. “WSU is deserving because of its unique projects that save energy and taxpayer money while showing that greening a campus can be a win win situation for everyone — for the environment, for the state. We are also modeling practices that will help continue to make Utah a great place to live and work,” Crimmel said.
Some of WSU’s recent energy projects include:
• Converting many university vehicles, including shuttle buses, to natural gas;
• Insulating the university’s vast network of steam and chilled water pipes for improved energy efficiency;
• Upgrading lighting to high-efficiency fluorescents; and
• Installing solar panels on a number of buildings.
“The Energy & Sustainability Office, which has led these initiatives, has been aggressively implementing energy- and water-savings projects over the past few years, and they are starting to save WSU a significant amount of money,” said Jennifer Bodine, sustainability specialist. “In fact, this past fiscal year, which ended June 30, WSU saved $939,575 through reduced electricity, natural gas and water consumption.”
In addition, WSU has made a significant policy commitment to becoming a carbon-neutral university by 2050. This pledge was initiated in 2007 when WSU became an American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment signatory. As such, WSU was required to complete a greenhouse gas inventory and a Climate Action Plan. The plan details the university’s goals for becoming carbon neutral and outlines tangible actions to reduce emissions.
This is the sixth year the Sierra Club has conducted its “Cool Schools” survey.
“The distinction of being chosen as one of the top schools nationally recognizes the superb cross campus partnerships between academic affairs, student affairs, and planning and administration. Working together, we have created opportunities for students, faculty and community members to become involved in sustainability projects on the WSU campuses,” Crimmel said. “This award recognizes the creative work being done at WSU and provides a foundation for future work in this area.”
For a list of completed projects and those currently under way, visit weber.edu/sustainability/06_Projects.html.
Jennifer Bodine, sustainability specialist
Hal Crimmel, Environmental Issues Committee
Allison Hess, director of Public Relations