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It's not easy being green! - Kermit T. Frog   Home Colleges & Universities 12 Steps toward Sustainability Campus Planning And Design

Campus Planning and Design
In order to fully integrate all of the areas of sustainability on campus, a master plan is necessary. Oversight is essential. Make sustainability part of a campus’s philosophy and vision. Design all new campus projects with the goal of incorporating them into the campus's sustainability program.
    Eastern's campus map shows an attention to maximizing green spaces, reducing parking lots through the use of garages, and preservation of forest areas.
  Organizational Assistance   Best Practices  
  • Develop A Campus Master Plan
    In order to achieve sustainability on the large scale, all development on a campus must be coordinated. Moreover a campus can much more effectively implement its sustainability goals if it develops an overall plan of action. In any future plans for campus development. make sustainability a top priority. Create short-term (3-5 years) and long-term (10 - 50 years) plans which set specific targets and define strategies to meet those goals. Institutionalize sustainability by making it the responsibility of one or more individuals or departments to actualize sustainability on campus. One possible strategy in order to achieve this might be to create a department of sustainability on campus.
  • Preserve Green Space
    Wherever possible, maintain existing vegetated areas on campus. Build on any brown fields before developing on green spaces, such as grass or forest. Forests sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and often constitute or maintain the local ecosystem. Fields and forests also diffuse solar radiation, unlike black- tops which tend to increase local temperatures. Open fields and forests on college campuses to act as recreational spaces and living laboratories.
  • Minimize on Campus Driving
    As of 2004 33% of all green house gas (GHG) emissions came from vehicles. Reducing on- and off-campus use of fossil-fueled vehicles may consequently represent a significant contribution to a campus’s environmental impact. The best way to minimize driving on campus is to promote the use of other forms of transportation. Incorporate means of storing bicycles on campus. While bike racks may be cheap and efficient, bike lockers are much preferable because of added security. Maintain bike paths and greenways. Universities with multiple campuses should promote efficient shuttle operations or encourage students to use public transportation rather than their own vehicles. Greenways can also be used to link campuses and encourage walking or biking. Make walking on campus safer by locating roads and parking facilities away from major on-foot routes. Call boxes along all walkways and bike paths can also increase safety.
  • Maintain Indigenous Plant Life
    There are several advantages to the use of indigenous plant life. Local plants have evolved to local conditions; thus, they do not require as much watering (if any) as would some non-native species. Invasive flora and foliage can also decrease biodiversity in the local ecosystems as local vegetation may not be able to compete with non-native species. The effects of such invasion work their way up the food chain as local animals may not be able to use introduced species as food sources. Using indigenous plant life avoids these potential problems. For campuses that already use a number of non-native species, restoration of the local ecology is great opportunity to improve campus sustainability.
  • Preserve Solar Access
    Orient all new building to take advantage of the sun through photovoltaics, passive or active thermal systems, or day lighting. When constructing new buildings and planting trees on campus, preserve necessary corridors of solar radiation to optimize the use of these systems. When using passive solar heating remember that deciduous trees block sunlight and heat in the summer and let solar radiation heat buildings in the winter. PV or heat collectors should ideally be exposed to the sun for as long as possible throughout the day. Make sure development does not significantly reduce the possible exposure of these systems by thoughtlessly building high on the horizon.
  • Perform Impact Review of All Expansion Plans
    In all future on-campus development, create an assessment of the environmental impact that would result from the planned project. Use simulation studies to determine the level of ecological damage caused by a project. Clean Air Cool Planet’s eCalculator can be used to establish a baseline level of air pollution impact and estimate the increase of impact caused by future development. Utilize green building codes in design (LEED, CHPS, or ENERGY STAR) to reduce the impact of new projects. Plan ways to counterbalance potential impacts of buildings, roads, parking lots, and other infrastructures. For example, parking lots can be designed with multiple layers of gravel, sand, and tar to filter any surface runoff before it enters ground water. When impact is unavoidable, attempt to create offsets- for example, when campus electrical use results in the production of green house gases (GHG’s). Consider carbon sequestering and set aside land for carbon sinks in the form of green spaces, or consider programs such as Reforest the Tropics to establish carbon sinks in other areas of the world.
  • UB Green is an intiative out of SUNY Buffalo which is to promote leadership in environmental stewardship. The UB Green website outlines a program of environmental stewardship for campuses.
  • The University of New Hampshire maintains a profile of its own Green Space and outlines the rational for maintaining such areas.
  • The Yellow Bikes program at Hampshire College is a bike sharing program. The yellow bikes are located at various easy access places around campus, providing the students with a safe green means of traveling around the local campus and community.
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