It takes a community to facilitate positive change. Nowhere is this truer than at the University of Houston.
Through the combined efforts of UH's faculty, staff and students, the university has implemented a number of initiatives aimed at reducing its carbon footprint. Such efforts have not gone unnoticed as UH is listed in The Princeton Review's 2011 "Guide to 311 Green Colleges." This is the second year in a row that the university has been recognized by this esteemed education services company for its green efforts.
"UH is honored to have its achievements in sustainability recognized for a second year in a row by The Princeton Review," said Emily Messa, assistant vice president of university services. "It is so important for colleges and universities to model sustainability for their communities."
Messa is among the staff members who oversee Green UH, a university initiative focused on campus sustainability. Green UH is driven by the efforts of the university's Sustainability Task Force and Green UH Student Leadership Council with support from volunteer Eco Reps and the student-run Enviro Club.
Among UH's many green efforts are a campus garden, trayless dining, office and residence hall recycling programs, campus recycling receptacles, green commuting tips and green computing. Each year, UH participates in the national RecycleMania competition and hosts events including an Earth Day Carnival.
Recently, the university received $140,000 from Green Mountain Energy Co. to fund the campus' first solar array that will be used at UH's central utility plant. Green Mountain also is sponsoring a paid internship at UH. The intern will be responsible for keeping track of the performance of the solar array and providing weekly online updates. Each semester, the intern will also plan, publicize and execute an educational event on solar energy.
"Our Green UH movement has been successful, I believe, because it has been a grass-roots effort that has exploded on campus," Messa said. "Now, whole departments and even colleges are working with the university efforts and tailoring the programs to meet the instructional and co-curricular needs of their students."
The Princeton Review's "Guide to 311 Green Colleges" profiles 308 institutions of higher education in the U.S. and three in Canada that demonstrate a strong commitment to sustainability in their academic offerings, campus infrastructure, activities and career preparation. The 220-page guide is the only free, comprehensive, annually updated guide to green colleges. This guide is made possible through a partnership between The Princeton Review and with the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), a national nonprofit organization best-known for developing the LEED green building certification program. To download this free guide, visit http://www.princetonreview.com/green-guide.aspx.
"College-bound students are increasingly interested in sustainability issues," said Robert Franek, senior vice president of publishing at The Princeton Review. "Among 8,200 college applicants who participated in our spring 2011 ‘College Hopes & Worries Survey,' nearly 69 percent told us that having information about a school's commitment to the environment would influence their decision to apply to or attend the school. Together with USGBC, we are pleased to make this free resource available to all students seeking to attend colleges that practice, teach and support environmentally-responsible choices."