Sustainability is a hot topic as of late. Businesses, organizations, and institutions of all shapes and sizes are embracing environmentally friendly practices, which benefit not only the planet but also their bottom line.

Colleges and universities sit on enormous properties that house large buildings and support substantial day-to-day operations. Like all businesses, the world is calling on them to prioritize eco-friendliness.

Why is Sustainability Important?

What exactly is campus sustainability and why is it important? From a business or lifestyle standpoint, sustainability means finding ways to meet your needs without impeding on the needs of future generations by draining resources or polluting the planet. With millions of students and employees involved in higher education throughout the U.S, the importance of sustainability on college campuses can’t be understated.

Lessons from Environmentally Friendly College Campuses

While this is by no means an exhaustive list, some of the most sustainable colleges include the University of North Carolina, University of Virginia, UC Berkeley, Chatham University, Portland State, Arizona State, and the University of Oregon. Here’s what we can learn from their green initiatives.

List of the most sustainable colleges.

Waste reduction

One of the most straightforward ways college campuses can integrate sustainability is through waste reduction. The University of Virginia is leading the pack with its recycling and waste diversion program, which encourages students to be more mindful of what they use and what they toss out. And many colleges, including UC Berkeley and the University of Oregon, are pledging to become zero-waste campuses.

Green buildings

North Carolina-Chapel Hill is the oldest American university, dating back to the 1700s. Like a handful of other American universities, that have been around for over two centuries,  it has centuries-old buildings sprinkled throughout campus.To continue to support the development of a more sustainable campus the school is retrofitting its existing structures with energy-efficient renovations and ensuring all new construction is green.

Tree Campus

Tree Campus Higher Education supports sustainability on college campuses by helping institutions that have implemented green initiatives. Having met the program’s requirements for healthy community forests, Chatham University in Pittsburgh is now recognized as a Tree Campus.

Sustainability programs

As one of the country’s greenest schools, Portland State University embraces environmental consciousness through several programs and departments. This includes its Student Sustainability Center, Institute for Sustainable Solutions, and Campus Sustainability Office.  Like Portland State, UVA also strives for promoting school sustainability practices others can employ.Thanks to its Green Labs and Green Workplace programs, UVA is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a Green Ribbon School.

Sustainability career paths

Arizona State University has taken steps by offering the country’s first School of Sustainability. The department offers bachelor’s and graduate degrees to students who want to explore careers in sustainability. The comprehensive degree program, established in 2006, focuses on finding solutions to environmental, economic, and social challenges.

Campus-wide sustainable culture

To protect its place as one of the greenest colleges in the U.S., the University of Oregon is continuously expanding on its energy-efficiency and waste-reduction efforts. Students can plant seeds from the free seed library, access the community garden, eat in-season food from local farmers in the dining halls, fill up their reusable water bottles at the campus’s many hydration stations, and cycle to class on the bike-friendly paths.

How Can Colleges Market Their Sustainability?

The most sustainable universities aren’t shy when it comes to bragging about their eco-friendly efforts—and this is a good thing. Hopeful students, educators, and staff care about green initiatives and promoting them can be a highly beneficial marketing approach.

If you’re looking for digital marketing support for your college, get in touch with us. We’ll help you hone in on your messaging and craft an effective strategy that appeals to your sustainability-conscious audience.