The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is a sustainability leader among colleges and universities. Building on a solid track record in environmental and social responsibility, we signed the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) in 2008. The ACUPCC is dedicated to bringing fossil carbon emissions to zero, reducing wastes, increasing renewable energy use, encouraging green building design through the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, and fostering sustainability literacy through the curriculum. In 2008, we wrote our first Sustainability Plan, which stated our goals and guided our recent action steps.
With the unveiling of the plan, the campus community has mobilized around “green” practices. In 2011, we installed a dry fermentation anaerobic Biodigester, the first of its kind in the country. The unit consumes 6,000 tons of organic wastes annually to generate 5-8 percent of campus electricity needs.
We have remodeled buildings to bring them to LEED standards and built new facilities including the Student Success Center, which earned a LEED Silver rating. Sage Hall achieved a LEED Gold rating, which is our first facility to achieve this important sustainability related certification. Sage Hall features numerous sustainability features including two solar photovoltaic systems, a solar thermal array and a green roof. Horizon Village is under review at the Gold level.
We are one of only 25 schools in the nation to earn Gold in the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) program of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) in 2012.
On the academic side, all students will graduate with a basic understanding of sustainability, as it is now one of three core concepts in our modified general education curriculum known as the University Studies Program, which will take effect in the fall 2013.
Even with all of these accomplishments we are still striving to improve as we work to update our Campus Sustainability Plan for the coming years. As a University, we are committed to cultivating responsible citizens for a durable and better world.
Additional Noteworthy Highlights
- One of only 21 Schools listed in Princeton Review’s “Green Honor Roll” for 2013.
- In 2012, we ranked number 14 nationally in Sierra Club Magazine’s annual “Coolest Schools” list, up from 35 in the previous ranking.
- Our dry fermentation anaerobic Biodigester earned the 2011 Silver Waste-to-Energy Excellence Award from the Solid Waste Association of North America.
- In the curriculum, we now offer a Sustainability Management Minor, a Bachelor of Science in Sustainability Management, an online Masters in Sustainability Management (with other UW campuses), and sustainability themed faculty-led trips abroad.
- As the first Fair Trade Campus in the country, we offer an increasing variety of socially and environmentally responsible products including coffee, tea, chocolate, bananas, clothing, and household and decorative items, and we were voted one of the 12 most committed schools to fair trade by BestColleges.org.
- Our participation in Zimride (for carpooling) saved commuters more than $150,000 in its first year, and use of Oshkosh Transit buses by the UWO community recently topped 85,000 annual rides.
- In the last three years the EPA has awarded more than $3.2 million for beach pollution studies and clean-up.
- Became the first UW school to be part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership in 2003 along with being awarded EPA’s highest leadership award with a commitment to purchase renewable energy, which grew from 3 to 23 percent.
- Have replaced all outdated electric appliances/equipment with Energy Star Products, and programmed all computers to shut off when not in use, earning the Energy Star Award.
- We have been designated a “Tree Campus USA” by the National Arbor Day Foundation for our healthy and abundant trees, which are nicely complemented by native prairie plantings and a community garden.
- Residence Life participates in Recyclemania and Riverside Cleanup, has a vibrant Ecoreps program, and certifies Green Rooms in the residence halls.
- Blackhawk commons has gone trayless, procures locally grown food, sends most of its organic waste to the Biodigester, has replaced its dishwasher with an Energy Star appliance that saves some 250 gallons of water per hour when in use, and controls exhaust fans to run only during times of high demand.
- We have installed
- 272 photovoltaic cell panels and 4 mounted tracker systems that generate more than 86,859 kWH annually,
- 180 solar thermal roof panels with heat exchangers and water collection systems that generate more than 1.28 billion BTU or more than 375,367 kWH annually,
- a geothermal heat pump system in our newly renovated SSC, altogether this brings a grand total of more than 462,226 kWH of renewable energy, an annual savings of $47,720.
- Refurbished light poles for efficiency and less light pollution.