College campuses are the homes to most future leaders around the world and the key to implementing environmental practices to students. These are the settings where students find their place in the world, so why not intertwine the environmental well-being into that journey as well? Some campuses have already envisioned this future of environmental responsibility and have taken initiative to make their campuses eco-friendly, in order to create a home our future leaders of the world can mimic.

A few ways college campuses can begin to go green is by placing motion sensing lights in rooms so they will switch off when the room isn’t being used, placing more trash and recycle bins throughout the campus and watering their grass less than they normally would. Small steps can assist campuses into taking the more environmentally friendly route but there are campuses that are going above and beyond in implementing environmental practices into their curriculum.

The Green Metric Association awarded the ¨Greenest University in the World¨ to the University of Wageningen, Netherlands (WUR) in 2017. This university has a mission statement ¨To explore the potential of nature to improve quality of life¨, and has proven to be dedicated in improving the quality of environment throughout the world, starting with their own college campus. They have lowered their greenhouse emissions by 40% in 2015; they have accomplished this by aiming to buy only 100% green wind energy as well as adding: windmills, solar panels, waste separation bins and biomass-fueled Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants onto their campus. They have a ¨green man¨ who regularly walks the campus and promotes environmental sustainability to students. WUR also holds an annual  ¨sustainability day¨ that aims to teach students about the importance of environmental protection through offering free classes on nutrition, governmental policies on the environment and the economic aspects of the environment.

Overall, it is clear that WUR has a primary goal of ensuring students understand the importance of environmental practices in life. Offering classes to teach students as well as show them how to apply these applications in their everyday lives is a model all college campuses should strive to mirror. Imagining a world where every college campus is eco-friendly is a vision that might seem far fetched but with campuses like the University of Wageningen all other campuses now have a model to follow.


How would eco-friendly colleges affect the environment?

For starters, college campuses are big, they are meant to be able to hold thousands of students, so big campuses means a big amount of energy being used. In the United States, each year, the average university consumes more that $100,000 worth of energy, 18.9 kilowatts of electricity per hour and 17 cubic feet of natural gas per square foot. Implementing small fixtures, as mentioned in the beginning of the article, can go a long way. Turning lights and other monitors off when leaving a classroom can greatly reduce energy being used, the only problem is getting students to remember to do these things. This is where applying environmental practices into the curriculum is important, you cannot have an eco-friendly campus if the students are not motivated to sustain one. Teaching students the importance of conserving energy and recycling waste means a more eco-friendly college, as well as a more energy efficient world, as these students will take the environmental practices they have learned throughout college and apply them to future uses.

Ángel Pérez