Willimantic, CT - Eastern Connecticut State University is one of the country's most environmentally-responsible colleges, according to the Princeton Review. The nationally-known education services company selected Eastern for inclusion in a unique resource it has created for college applicants - "The Princeton Review's Guide to 286 Green Colleges."
Developed by the Princeton Review in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council, the "Guide to 286 Green Colleges" is the first, comprehensive guidebook focused solely on institutions of higher education who have demonstrated commitment to sustainability in terms of campus infrastructure, activities and initiatives.
"We are honored that Eastern was selected as a Green College by the Princeton Review," said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. "We have a campus-wide commitment to sustainability at Eastern, evidenced by campus conservation programs, the sustainable energy studies curriculum, and our outreach across Connecticut in support of local energy efficiency efforts. This recognition tells our students, faculty and staff that their hard work is being noticed."
The guide - which is based on a survey of hundreds of colleges nationwide - profiles the nation's most environmentally-responsible campuses. From solar panel study rooms to the percentage of budget spent on local/organic food, "The Princeton Review's Guide to 286 Green Colleges" looks at an institution's commitment to building certification using USGBC's LEED green building certification program; environmental literacy programs; formal sustainability committees; use of renewable energy resources; recycling and conservation programs; and much more.
"Students and their parents are becoming more and more interested in learning about and attending colleges and universities that practice, teach and support environmental responsibility," said Robert Franek, senior vice president and publisher of the Princeton Review. "According to our recent College Hope & Worries Survey, 64 percent of college applicants and their parents said having information about a school's commitment to the environment would impact their decision to apply to or attend it. We created this guide to help them evaluate how institutions like Eastern focus on environmental responsibility so that they can make informed decisions as they move through the college assessment and application process."
Eastern joins the ranks of outstanding universities and colleges nationwide that are leading the "green" movement through their own special programs and initiatives.
Eastern's new Science Building was designed for LEED Silver Certification for its use of gray water to irrigate and its many other green features. In addition, a geothermal system provides heat and air conditioning to a 62,973-square-foot residence hall, the largest geothermal-heated building in Connecticut.
The campus also generates 6.2 kilowatts from photovoltaic solar panels to light bus shelters, trash disposal areas and building perimeter lighting. In addition, dual fuel burning capability in Eastern's heating plants allows the University to switch from gas to oil and vice versa based on prices and/or the requirements of its gas utility agreement. Water saving features also exist on a number of showers, toilets and urinals. Finally, an energy monitoring system analyzes energy usage for each building, and can automatically reduce electricity usage through pre-programmed initiatives, to reduce peak demand and energy costs.
Eastern is exporting its commitment to energy conservation beyond its own campus eco-system through the Institute for Sustainable Energy (ISE). The institute is recognized and widely respected throughout New England as an invaluable resource for supporting sustainable energy conservation efforts in municipalities and public schools throughout Connecticut and the region. The ISE, founded in 2001, continues to provide leadership in a number of outreach projects and recently has been concentrating on workforce development in preparing certification training for green collar jobs. This effort involves ISE staff participation on the Connecticut Green Jobs Council, the Connecticut Energy Workforce Consortium as well as developing training programs with a number of Regional Workforce Development Investment Boards. In addition, the Institute's director co-chaired the Legislative Fuel Diversity Task Force to develop an infrastructure for the production of bio-fuel in Connecticut and current serves on the Governor's Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Council.
Professor Fred Loxsom, endowed chair of Sustainable Energy Studies at Eastern, has worked with his colleagues in the Environmental Earth Science Department to develop an Energy Science track within the Bachelor of Science Environmental Earth Science (EES) major. The new track was offered for the first time in the spring 2010 semester. Students complete a core course in earth science as well as a sequence of courses that prepares them to understand energy-related environmental issues and policies and to design, analyze and monitor fossil fuel and renewable energy systems.
The department also offers an interdisciplinary minor in the field. This past March, Eastern EES students traveled to Jamaica on a study tour, accompanied by Loxsom and Political Science Professor Helma de Vries. As part of the trip, they built a wind turbine for a local school.
How the Schools Were Chosen
The Princeton Review chose the 286 schools included in the guide based on the "Green Rating" scores the schools received in summer 2009 when the Princeton Review published Green Rating scores for 697 schools in its online college profiles and/or annual college guidebooks. the Princeton Review's "Green Rating" is a numerical score from 60 - 99 that's based on several data points. In 2008, the Princeton Review began collaborating with USGBC to help make the Green Rating survey questions as comprehensive and inclusive as possible. Of 697 schools that The Princeton Review gave "Green Ratings" to in 2009, the 286 schools in the guide received scores in the 80th or higher percentile.