Rensselaer has been named one of the country’s most environmentally responsible colleges. The Princeton Review has selected Rensselaer for inclusion in a new publication for college applicants: The Princeton Review’s Guide to 286 Green Colleges.
“Sustainability has been a persistent focus at Rensselaer for some time now, championed strongly by our students, supported by faculty leadership in new academic programs and leading-edge energy and environmental research, practiced in our infrastructure development and operations, and characterized not least by the national and international policy contributions in energy security and related fields made by President Shirley Ann Jackson,” said Laban Coblentz, chief of staff and associate vice president for policy and planning. Coblentz, who has led joint student/administrative sustainability efforts over the past two years, also cited the Institute’s ongoing sustainable building design and construction efforts.
Claude Rounds, vice president for administration, added, “Our overall efforts are combined under our Sustainability at Rensselaer program, and begin with the focus by Rensselaer on sustainability as a strategic initiative of the Institutewhich means that we integrate sustainability into all portfolios and all that we do.”
Developed by The Princeton Review in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council, the Guide to 286 Green Colleges is the first comprehensive guidebook focused solely on institutions of higher education that have demonstrated an above-average commitment to sustainability in terms of campus infrastructure, activities, and initiatives.
In profiling Rensselaer, Princeton Review cited several Institute accomplishments. A new minor in Sustainability Studies was added to the university’s academic offerings, and the Vasudha first-year living and learning community was opened. Vasudha (which means “Earth” in Sanskrit) gives students who are interested in the environment a chance to live together and take common courses focused on issues of energy, environment, the earth sciences, and biodiversity. Rensselaer’s Student Sustainability Task Force is the arbiter of green initiatives on campus, and has helped organize the school’s Campus Green Program, which gives every member of the university community a chance to take part in on-campus sustainability efforts. Activities include the Move-Out Collection Program, the Environmental Education Center, and the Garden and Greenhouse Project. Now in its fourth year, this chemical-free garden produces crops such as lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and basil for the campus community.
Rensselaer also participates in RecycleMania, a competition among colleges across the country to collect the most recyclables. Right now the Institute’s waste diversion rate is 30 percent, a number it hopes to improve with the awareness raised by RecycleMania. Rensselaer is also reducing its carbon footprint by implementing an Energy Conservation Program and buying wind certificates for its energy use. The Institute recently allotted $50,000 of its energy budget to wind power purchasing. Rensselaer, with student help and input, is researching green building materials, green lighting, and ecosystem functions in order to make new construction on campus more sustainable. All new capital projects on campus are to meet LEED Silver standards, at minimum.
For more information on Rensselaer’s sustainability and environmental workhighlighting scores of projects and initiatives related to Rensselaer research, academics, operations, and culturego to the Rensselaer “Sustainability Clearinghouse” Web site at http://sustainability.rpi.edu.
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