The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s green sheen isn’t fading.
On April 20, in the midst of Earth Week, The Princeton Review announced UW Oshkosh, for the second year in a row, earned a place in its “Guide to 311 Green Colleges,” a spotlight of colleges and universities in the United States and Canada “that demonstrate a strong commitment to sustainability in their academic offerings, campus infrastructure, activities, and career preparation.”
UW Oshkosh also made the Green Guide in 2010. The book is a collaboration between The Princeton Review and U.S. Green Building Council.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has also awarded UW Oshkosh the top Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference spot in its annual Green Power Challenge. The university’s nearly 6.5 million kilowatt hours of green power consumption in 2010 beat out its lone WIAC competitor, UW Stevens Point, which used more than 4.1 million green kilowatt hours. It’s the second year in a row UW Oshkosh topped the WIAC in the EPA challenge.
“These are just two more validations that the things we do daily at UW Oshkosh in the name of sustainability are on track,” UW Oshkosh Chancellor Richard Wells said. “We support state-of-the-art building projects. We push ourselves to produce less waste and recycle more. We make sure we manage facilities, classrooms and programs to maximize our efficiency and effectiveness.”
In 2010, The Princeton Review conducted a survey of more than 700 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. Fifty questions gauged each school’s sustainability-related policies, practices and programs. The company crunched the resultant scores on a 60-to-99-point scale. The 311 schools with 80 points or higher earned a spot in the Guide to Green Colleges.
“College-bound students are increasingly interested in sustainability issues,” Robert Franek, Senior VP, Publishing, The Princeton Review, said in a statement unveiling the new Green Guide’s spotlight campuses.
“Among 8,200 college applicants who participated in our spring 2011 ‘College Hopes & Worries Survey,’ nearly 7 out of 10 (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,” Franek said. “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. To that end, we highly recommend the terrific schools in this book.”
UW Oshkosh continues to engrain sustainable practices in every facet of its operation, already boasting an impressive resume of accomplishments.
In 2002, UW Oshkosh was among a small number of universities to endorse the Earth Charter, a set of globally-recognized environmental and social justice standards. The university joined the EPA’s Green Partnership a year later, first in Wisconsin to do so. That bound UW Oshkosh to purchase at least 3 percent of its energy from alternative sources.
UW Oshkosh declared itself a fair trade university in 2008, pledging to, whenever feasible, purchase fair trade products. The university subsequently targeted carbon neutrality by 2025 per U.S. Climate Action Plans.
During its last 10 years of commitment to sustainability, UW Oshkosh has also made a practice of building green. Sage Hall, the university’s first entirely new academic building in 40 years set to open this fall, and the new residence hall Horizon Village will each meet LEED principles and standards. The Student Success Center, completed in 2010, incorporated building components from the former Elmwood Commons and relies on a special heating and cooling system that moderates its climate to conserve energy consumption. Next month, UW Oshkosh will dedicate the nation’s first dry fermentation anaerobic biodigester, which will convert campus yard and food waste into fuel.
“The bar for campus sustainability grows higher every year, and maintaining our national standing is only possible because the students and staff of UW Oshkosh continue to improve and innovate so that we stay ahead of the curve,” said Michael Lizotte, UW Oshkosh director of sustainability.
Other Wisconsin colleges and universities that made the 2011 Green Guide include: Lawrence University, Marquette University, Northland College, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.