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Sierra Club names Eastern a 'Cool School’

Published on September 29, 2021

Sierra Club names Eastern a 'Cool School’

Eastern's arboretum is an on-campus nature preserve. 

“Sierra” magazine, the major publication of the Sierra Club, the influential grassroots environmental group, has named Eastern Connecticut State University one of “The Coolest Schools” in the nation for 2021. 

The magazine, dedicated to protecting the natural world, congratulated Eastern for its performance in its 15th annual Cool Schools ranking for the many ways the University has engaged and inspired students, faculty and staff to participate in sustainability efforts.

The national recognition fittingly comes as October — Campus Sustainability Month — begins. “I am proud of Eastern’s continued leadership on sustainability and climate change, yet we know that we have lots of hard work ahead of us,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. “We understand the importance of building strong climate literacy in our students — tomorrow’s leaders — and we are committed to reducing the carbon footprint of our buildings and operations.”

Eastern engages in numerous sustainability activities, highlighted by the University’s celebration of Earth Day. Members of Eastern’s Green Campus Committee include students, faculty and staff, who work together to fulfill President Nunez’s pledge to achieve carbon neutrality at Eastern. 

Lynn Stoddard, director of Eastern’s Institute for Sustainable Energy (ISE), said, “In addition to encouraging the campus community to share ideas on how Eastern can become more sustainable and achieve our carbon reduction goals, the committee also encourages everyone to take action at home: recycle, turn off lights and appliances when you’re not using them, plant a garden, plant a tree, buy food from your local farmers market and more.”

In 2018, the ISE launched Sustainable CT, a voluntary certification program to recognize thriving and resilient Connecticut communities. More than 73 percent of Connecticut’s municipalities participate in Sustainable CT and 64 towns and cities have earned certification, recognizing their significant sustainability achievements.

Eastern has also used its Chartwells Food Services to support local economies, encourage environmentally friendly practices, and help eliminate unsafe working conditions. Food preparation waste from the campus dining hall is sent to Quantum BioPower in Southington, where it is processed and turned into biogas and soil amendment.

These actions help reduce environmental impacts, improve local food security, support fair and resilient food systems, and reduce food waste. Chartwells Food Services has supported sustainable food systems by making low impact dining options available and by offering meatless dining and sustainable food and beverage purchasing and practices.

Eastern also offers more than 12 sustainability courses and students can major or minor in Sustainable Energy Studies. The University also has five Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) facilities and is host to one of Connecticut’s largest geothermal facilities. Electric vehicle charging stations are also available on campus to students, faculty, staff and the community.

Written by Dwight Bachman