American College Campuses Getting Even Greener

New Case Studies from National Wildlife Federation Demonstrate Commitment to Sustainability Exceptionally Strong

11-13-2012 // Mary Burnette
Northland College students with solar panels

Colleges and universities around the country are making a substantial investment in the sustainability of their campuses according to new information from the National Wildlife Federation. These innovative efforts, from renewable energy systems to campus organic farms, can now be seen in a single online resource from NWF.

National Wildlife Federation’s campus sustainability case study database, the only resource of its kind, is available online now at thanks in part to the support of The Kendeda Fund. More than one hundred new case studies highlight efforts to dramatically reduce pollution, waste, and costs, including recycling, energy efficiency improvements, renewable energy installations and green jobs training programs.

With the addition of the 2012 submissions, the database includes close to 800 case studies from campuses across the U.S. spanning more than two decades. The work these campuses are doing coincide with NWF’s efforts to educate the American public about the need to reduce carbon pollution, the major cause of climate change. The recent destruction on the East Coast from Hurricane Sandy is just one example of how climate change is influencing weather patterns and putting both humans and wildlife in harm’s way.  

Examples of campuses featured for 2012 include:

    Recycle at the Rock
  • Students from Appalachian State University’s Renewable Energy Institute design, install and fund a $45,000 project consisting of two photovoltaic and solar thermal systems. (North Carolina)
  • Eastern Mennonite University complete construction of a 100,000 gallon storm water management cistern; the new system harvests water runoff draining from houses, buildings, roads and parking lots across 15 acres of university property. (Virginia)
  • Grand Rapids Community College students participate in the remodeling and relocation of a model green home, converting it into a functional learning lab for teaching sustainable construction, energy efficiency and conservation, and renewable energy. (Michigan)
  • Seattle University students succeed in getting the campus administration to stop selling single-use, plastic, bottled water on campus. (Washington)
  • The University of Arkansas’s Sustainability Internship Program provides students the knowledge, skills and abilities to implement sustainability efforts on campus.

Published each year since 1989, NWF’s Campus Ecology sustainability case study database has become an indispensable resource for students, faculty, administrators, community leaders and others interested in the role of colleges and universities in protecting the health of our planet. The database is searchable by topic, year, school, and state and includes information on each institution’s project goals, successes, challenges, funding strategies and project leaders.

Ecotech Institute in Aurora, Colorado was included in the 2010 database and the school’s administrators believe that listing accounts for the fact that twenty-five percent of the school’s current students are “national,” i.e., originating from outside the borders of Colorado.

“This resource helps colleges and universities learn how campuses are tackling their energy and water consumption challenges, and about their strategies to protect and restore green space. The database also gives campuses an opportunity to share their successes nationwide while receiving recognition for their commitment and hard work” says Kristy Jones, Sr. Manager of Campus Ecology Programs, National Wildlife Federation.

NWF’s Campus Ecology program works with several hundred campuses nationwide each year on efforts to advance student leadership, reduce carbon pollution and support career education.

"NWF’s campus ecology program is about empowering student leaders and their allies to transform the curriculum, campus and community. These case studies are testament to the dramatic progress students and other campus leaders have made," says Julian Keniry, Sr. Director of Campus & Community Leadership, National Wildlife Federation. 

Schools wanting to learn more about NWF’s Campus Ecology program can go to