Creating a Sustainable Campus
By Jane Hurst
Higher education should not just be about learning philosophy, the arts, sciences, etc. It should also be about learning about our world, how to live in it, and how to sustain it for generations to come. As more and more people and businesses are learning to become sustainable, so are many college campuses. There are several ways that a sustainable campus can be created. Let’s take a look at what can be done on your campus right now.
Food – College campuses have the potential to become centers for food growing cooperatives. Students, teachers, and staff can take part in gardening programs that produce fresh food for college cafeterias. They can also make the switch to more organic foods, as well as buying from local producers. They can also teach about farm-to-garden food routes, energy costs of food production, and more.
Investment – Campuses have the potential to be leaders in the entrepreneur world, simply by creating sustainable atmospheres. Colleges and local business can work together to create sustainable economies, with investment decisions being made that will train a whole new generation of leaders in sustainability who will continue to create a green economy. Things that can be accomplished include large gardens, the use of recycled materials in creative ways, creating new energy systems, and much more.
Energy – One of the first things we need to look at is energy. But, we need to find ways to create energy that aren’t going to be damaging to the environment. There are a number of challenges involved in creating an environment with zero-carbon energy use, but it can be done. For instance, renewable energy sources can be used. Buildings can be retrofitted with new technologies to help create energy while leaving no carbon footprint.
Clean Air – One of the biggest reasons why many people feel drowsy or unable to concentrate is because they are in buildings that have poor air quality. This can all be changed by installing a new HVAC system, or upgrading the one that is already in place. In addition to making sure that the latest HVAC technologies are used, it is also important to keep these systems clean and well-maintained. The better the system, and the cleaner, the healthier the indoor air is going to be.
Curriculum – A sustainable campus must offer a curriculum that gives students hands-on experiences of living a sustainable lifestyle. This includes creating a sustainable campus that offers a curriculum revolving around sustainability. Obviously, there is on standard for curriculums across the board. The best way to get this started is to find out what people are most interested in when it comes to creating a sustainable campus, and a sustainable life, and let the teaching begin.
Wellness – Not only should we be working on creating a better world for ourselves and for the next generation, we also need to concentrate on our own personal health. Campuses must deal with a wide variety of health issues, from illnesses due to stress to poor nutrition to alcohol and drug problems, and much more. Your campus can offer programs and efforts that help others to learn about nutrition, exercise, taking breaks to alleviate stress, and other programs that will enhance the overall health of students, teachers, and anyone else who wants to take advantage of this information.
Governance – Even though we all claim to hate government interference, we need a governing body. It is the same with all college campuses. But, it can’t be all one-sided. If there is a grass roots motivation, the school leadership may rebel. On the other hand, if the leadership is trying to get something started, the grass roots segment could rebel. All sustainability plans must be part of the campus mission, and be a part of its philosophy. Leadership at all levels is necessary to make it all work.
Jane Hurst has been working in education for over 5 years as a teacher. She loves sharing her knowledge with