“The future belongs to those who give the next generation reason for hope”
-Pierce Teilhard De Chardin
This subcategory seeks to recognize institutions that are taking steps to improve the sustainability performance of their buildings. Buildings are generally the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions on campus. Buildings also use significant amounts of potable water. Institutions can design, build, and maintain buildings in ways that provide a safe and healthy indoors environment for inhabitants while simultaneously mitigating the buildings impact on the outdoor environment.
This subcategory seeks to recognize institutions that are measuring and reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. Global warming is expected to have myriad negative impacts throughout the world, including increased frequency and potency of extreme weather events, sea level rise, species extinction, water shortages, declining agricultural production, and spread of diseases. The impacts are expected to be particularly pronounced for poor communities and countries.
This subcategory seeks to recognize institutions that are helping build a sustainable food system. Modern industrial food production often has deleterious environmental impacts. Pesticides and fertilizers used in agriculture can contaminate ground and surface water, which has potentially dangerous impacts on wildlife and human health. Institutions can use their food purchases to support their local economies, encourage sage, environmentally-friendly farming methods, and help alleviate poverty for famers.
This subcategory seeks to recognize institutions that are reducing their energy consumption through conservation and efficiency, and switching to cleaner and renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind, geothermal, and low-impact hydropower. Implementing conservation measures and switching to renewable sources of energy can help institutions save money and protect them from utility rate volatility. Renewable energy may be generated locally and allow campuses to support local economic development. Furthermore, institutions can help shape markets by creating demand for cleaner, renewable sources of energy.
This subcategory seeks to recognize institutions that plan and maintain their grounds with sustainability in mind. Beautiful and welcoming campus grounds can be planned, planted, and maintained in any region while minimizing the use of toxic chemicals, protecting wildlife habitat, and conserving water and resources.
This subcategory seeks to recognize institutions that are using their purchasing power to help build a sustainable economy. Collectively, institutions spend many billions of dollars on goods and services annually. Each purchasing decision represents an opportunity for institutions to choose environmentally and socially preferable products and services and support companies with strong commitments to sustainability.
This subcategory seeks to recognize institutions that are moving toward sustainable transportation systems. Transportation is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants that contribute to health problems such as heart and respiratory diseases and cancer. Due to disproportionate exposure, these health impacts are frequently more pronounced in low-income communities next to major transportation corridors. At the same time, campuses can reap benefits from modeling sustainable transportation systems. Bicycling and walking provide human health benefits and mitigate the need for large areas of paved surface, which can help campuses to better manage storm water. Institutions may realize cost savings and help support local economies by reducing their dependency on petroleum-based fuels for transportation.
This subcategory seeks to recognize institutions that are moving toward zero waste by reducing, reusing, recycling, and composting. These actions mitigate the need to extract virgin materials, such as trees and metals. It generally takes less energy and water to make a product with recycled material than with virgin resources. Reducing waste generation also reduces the flow of waste to incinerators and landfills which produce greenhouse gas emissions, can contaminate air and groundwater supplies, and tend to have disproportionate negative impacts on low-income communities. Waste reduction and diversion also save institutions costly landfill and hauling service fees. In addition, waste reduction campaigns can engage the entire campus community in contributing to a tangible sustainability goal.
This subcategory seeks to recognize institutions that are conserving water and making efforts to protect water quality. Pumping, delivering, and treating water is a major energy user, so institutions can help reduce energy consumption and the greenhouse gas emissions associated with energy generation by conserving water. Likewise, conservation and effective storm water management are important in maintaining and protecting finite groundwater supplies. Water conservation and effective storm water management also reduce the need for effluent discharge into local surface water supplies, which helps improve the health of local water ecosystems.