Slippery Rock University has recently been named one of the nation’s 286 most Green Colleges, according to the Princeton Review.
The colleges on the list must show an above average commitment to sustainability, and very few are recognized nationally for their efforts.
SRU has also earned silver STARS status from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. AASHE developed STARS, which stands for Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System.
STARS is a self-reporting framework that higher education institutions can utilize to assess their sustainability performance.
Currently, SRU’s ranking is 49.81, which is considered Silver status. This is a 5.48 point increase from SRU’s previous Bronze status.
213 colleges and universities throughout the United States participated in this year’s STARS. One hundred institutions received the Silver ranking, and 37 received Gold.
Criteria for the STARS rankings include curriculum, operations, buildings, energy consumption, purchasing, transportation and dining services. The ranking system factors in more than one hundred criterion.
Part of the increased STARS ranking at SRU relates to President Cheryl J. Norton’s approved Climate Action Plan, which lays out the procedures for reducing greenhouse gases and achieving climate neutrality in 25 years or less.
According to Jim Henry, Vice President of Student Affairs in SRU’s Student Government Association, SRU will be a carbon neutral campus by the year 2037.
“Becoming carbon neutral means that we, as a university, will reduce our carbon emissions to a very low number by using carbon offsets or alternatives,” Henry said.
Henry, who is involved in the student-led Green Fund initiative, is helping work on projects around campus to aid in sustainability efforts.
“The Green Fund is a great source of funding that we receive twice a year, and I am glad students take advantage of it,” Henry said.
Last year Henry wrote two grants, one of which was accepted and is being worked on with its completion date of Fall 2012.
“This project was part ‘campus beautification’ and part sustainability,” Henry said. “Basically, we are replacing a lot of the red wooden benches that are falling apart on campus with 100 percent recycled material as the lumber. This will add a clean new look to the benches, as well as continue our efforts as a more sustainable campus.”
Henry also wrote a second grant for the Green Fund, which will be resubmitted this year.
“It is for solar lights on the main path in the quad that passes through ‘the rock’ area,” Henry said. “This path is dimly lit around the rock, and a great alternative is using solar power. I believe that if the campus starts to utilize wind and solar energy we can make innumerable strides towards being a front-runner in our green initiative.”
Other initiatives on campus include the construction of a bag house on SRU’s coal-fired boiler plant, which is a form of pollution control that reduces coal emissions, particulates, and greenhouse gases.
All new residence halls at Slippery Rock are certified in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, which includes motion-detector lights in buildings and sleep-mode settings for computers.
Many students have taken the SRU Energy Pledge; otherwise known as “Small Steps. Big Payoff,” which asks students to reduce consumption by changing small everyday activities, such as unplugging appliances and phone chargers when they are not in use, walking to campus instead of driving and taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
SRU’s dining centers also participate in “Trayless Tuesday” to cut down on energy usage.