The University of Connecticut has been acknowledged for its efforts in creating a sustainable campus, as well as the projects underway to further this environmentally conscious action in the future.
The university has already won a handful of awards, as well as ranked highly for its progress in becoming sustainable. Most recently, UConn ranked eighth out of 328 schools on the Sierra Club’s “Cool Schools 2021 Full Ranking” list, something that measures universities’ level of sustainability efforts.
Additionally, according to the UConn Office of Sustainability, it was the 29th school in the country to be recognized as a Bee Campus in 2017 and has been recertified with this honor each year. UConn was also the third college in New England to be named a Tree Campus USA in 2013 with recertification every year as well.
“Our rankings can serve as a guide for prospective students, current students, administrators, and alumni to compare colleges’ commitments to environmentalism. It also serves to spur healthy competition among schools, raise environmental standards on campus, and publicly reward the institutions that work hard to protect the planet.”Sierra Club, via website
UConn received these awards as a result of its efforts in keeping a clean campus and spreading awareness to students, staff and the community about the importance of taking care of the environment.
According to the Office of Sustainability, the university is part of the Presidents’ Climate Commitment stating it strives to be carbon neutral by the year 2050. The university is tracking its progress through a greenhouse gas inventory which is closely monitored by the Office of Sustainability every year.
UConn has created goals in five specific areas on campus: materials, energy, land, movement and water. Specifically to reduce energy usage, UConn has turned to LED bulbs as a substitute for basic lighting fixtures.
“Final results of a three-part Energy Department-funded study reveal the most comprehensive comparison to date. The study – which evaluated not only the use but also the manufacturing, transport, and disposal of LED, CFL and incandescent lamps throughout each product lifecycle – found that LEDs have less negative environmental impacts than incandescent bulbs and a slight edge over CFLs,” the United States Department of Energy said via its website.
The U.S. Department of Energy later went on to state LED lights require less energy in comparison to regular bulbs and are more efficient at lighting up a room, so not as many are needed.
The university is also focused on low impact development (LID), a way to make sure any runoff or contaminated water does not pollute the natural water systems such as any streams or lakes in the vicinity of campus, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
“The UConn Storrs campus has a total of three green rooves, located on the Gant Science Complex, Laurel Hall, Storrs Hall, and NextGen Residence Hall. Green rooves: contribute to total permeable surface area, reducing stormwater runoff; provide greater insulation, reducing the cost of heating and cooling; and increase biodiversity, reduce heat-islands, and create educational opportunities,”UConn Office of Sustainability
To spread this work to students, residential assistants living in dorm halls on campus have begun planning activities and informative posters for students to get involved.
According to a facilitation guide created by Residential Life staff at UConn, RAs are expected to provide students with, “tips and tricks for sustainability and the included resources on campus on where students can learn more about sustainability and get involved in environmental activism.”