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Seven Minnesota institutions make Princeton Review’s first guide to ‘exemplary green’ campuses

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.

Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Kassie Church on 04/22/2010 - 09:28 am.

    What? The U of MN- Morris isn’t mentioned? It gets 60% of its energy from wind, it is building a biomass generator that will supply 80% of its heating and cooling energy, uses green vehicles, has a local foods program, and has significant programs for recycling and reduced water usage. St. Johns has free bus passes. That’s outrageous.

  2. Submitted by Kevin Whalen on 04/22/2010 - 11:07 pm.

    Amen, Kassie. Overlooking Morris in this case is an absolute joke. I’d be interested to hear an explanation.

  3. Submitted by Doug Hamilton on 04/23/2010 - 01:06 pm.

    For the record, Minnesota State University Moorhead announced that it would become the MnSCU system’s first smoke-free university in the spring of 2007– it went into effect January 1, 2008.

    About ten years earlier, we were a charter member of Moorhead Public Service’s “Capture the Wind” program– and in 1999 the city’s second wind turbine was named “Zephyr,” after a submission by the university.

    In addition, the University has for decades operated the Regional Science Center, which is a nature center used as an environmental classroom for University and K-12 students.

    Last year the University’s Energy Task Force made recommendations that saved $300,000 in energy costs to help us pare costs to deal with reduced state funding.

    Finally, for several years we’ve had a Sustainable Campus Initiative. Funded by a $3.00 student fee, the Initiative reviews grant proposals and distributes grant awards.

  4. Submitted by Doug Hamilton on 04/23/2010 - 02:21 pm.

    Wait, there’s more:

    The Sustainable Campus Initiative Committee (SCIC) will finance a competition open to all MSU Moorhead students for developing the best design for insulated shutters or insulated blinds to cover the windows on Murray Commons. The winner of the competition will win the prize money of $3000. If the winning design is accepted by MSU Moorhead’s facilities administration and MnSCU administration, the shutters/blinds will be installed during fall semester 2010 or the spring semester 2011. The student winner will supervise the installation.

    In most buildings in the Northern part of the USA the heat loss through the windows is from 40 to 90 percent of the building’s total heat loss. Nationwide, very little attention has been given to find a solution to this problem. Over the next few years, as energy becomes more expensive, insulated shutters or blinds will become the norm on both commercial buildings and residential housing. The SCIC, in the interest of energy conservation at MSUM and promotinga lifestyle of energy sustainability among students, will finance this competition as a demonstration project during the 2010-2011 school year.

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