Environmental sustainability is a topic on many minds these days. It seems like you see the words “green” and “eco-friendly” everywhere you turn. People are realizing that if action is not taken immediately our big-blue planet is undoubtedly going to suffer — It\’s sad. Luckily, everyone seems to be doing their part to make sure sustainability is a top priority, including colleges and universities. In fact, educational institutes are looking at new ways to become eco-friendly.
Reduce the Amount of Paper
It\’s no secret that universities use a lot of paper, there are always random pamphlets covering university hallways, classrooms and offices. Many schools are switching to electronic versions of these documents. In fact, many colleges even allow you to search for majors at The College Board, a website offering online catalogs for prospective students. By simply allowing students to look up majors, universities are dramatically reducing carbon footprint. Students can also submit applications, register for classes, and even receive their grades online.
Electronic Textbook Phenomena
While many colleges already offer electronic library books, there are now 25 colleges and universities participating in an electronic textbook pilot program. The program provides textbooks to students in a format that will work with any electronic device. The hope is that by switching to electronic booklets, universities will be able to dramatically reduce the amount of paper used. They\’re also hoping to reduce the amount that students have to pay for textbooks.
The pilot program is testing to make sure students can still learn just as effectively using a physical textbook. It\’s predicted that as students who have grown up in the digital age start to enter college, the transition will become an easy process.
Reusable Plastic Bottles
Many colleges are also developing initiatives to promote the usage of reusable water bottles instead of having students purchase new ones each day. In fact, the sustainability coordinator at UNC Charlotte is arranging a program which each new freshmen will receive a free aluminum water bottle in hopes that they will simply reuse.
Solar Panels Everywhere
Universities are coming up with more and more uses for solar panels. Instead of simply installing them on roofs, they are making solar-charge carts. The carts are completely portable and allow students and teachers to charge cell phones and laptops. They can be used everywhere from libraries to lecture halls to the teacher\’s lounge.
Most universities are finding the power to change and improve sustainability. In fact, at UNC, students are working on building a completely sustainable house. The house provides the perfect hands-on environment for the students while also helping the university become more eco-friendly.
As technologies improve and awareness increases, universities are sure to make eco-friendly improvements each day. What other suggestions do you have to help make colleges more energy-efficient?
Author Melissa studied English at UCLA. She is now a magazine editor who still loves the beach as much as she did as an undergrad.