From Winona State University’s tobacco-free campus to Gustavus Adolphus College’s Linnaeus Arboretum, seven Minnesota schools are being singled out for their sustainability efforts.
Just in time for Earth Day, the Princeton Review this week released its first “Guide to 286 Green Colleges,” a three-year joint effort with the United States Green Building Council to identify and rate “exemplary green institutions.” Although the council developed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, LEED campus buildings were not a criterion for this list.
“Clearly the green movement on college campuses is far more than a passing fad,” according to the publication, which is not affiliated with Princeton University. “There is a sincere and growing interest among students in identifying and applying to colleges where there is a demonstrated commitment to sustainability.”
Princeton Review’s 2009 College Hopes & Worries Survey found that 66 percent of 16,000 college applicants and their parents wanted information on campuses’ commitments to the environment, and 24 percent said such details would “very much” influence their school choice.
Winona State is the only campus in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system on the list.
Cristeen Custer, Winona State’s assistant vice president of marketing and communication, said the designation is a “pleasant surprise.” But how important is it to a university’s recruiting efforts?
“You’re talking to a marketing person,” Custer said. “Most important is it’s emblematic of what is happening on our campus. … We’re pleased because it identifies the priorities of this institution, and that’s a good thing because we think higher education has a really important role to play in protecting” the environment.
As pleased as Custer is with the school’s honor, she’s a bit concerned about some errors and typos in the summary. For example: The campus went tobacco-free last year, not in 1993. And an agro-ecology class (not an argo-ecology class) planted the herb garden for the university’s dining services.
Finding the summaries on individual schools in Minnesota is a little tricky. The 200-page report [PDF] lists schools alphabetically.
Besides Winona State, here are other Minnesota campuses in the guide and a little about why they stand out:
• College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University is recognized for reducing car emissions by offering free bus passes and free carpool parking.
• Gustavus Adolphus College’s Linnaeus arboretum is called a “stunning example of Minnesota’s natural history.”
• Macalester College receives props for the first LEED-platinum building on a Minnesota campus and for providing free coffee bi-weekly for those walking, biking or taking a bus to work.
• St. Olaf College’s construction of a wind turbine and plans for two more are noted.
• University of Minnesota-Duluth is lauded for retrofitting 100 buildings for energy efficiency in one year.
• University of Minnesota-Twin Cities is praised for several efforts, including its Center for Sustainable Enterprise Development and more than 20 student groups focusing on environmental or sustainability issues.