Virtually every industry has made efforts to go green, but higher education has made some major changes to help reduce its carbon footprint and present a more environmentally sustainable model. As green issues such as pollution and climate change continue to make headlines, many higher education institutions to instill green values and habits into their students by encouraging green practices within their own schools.
Here are five recent green trends in higher education:
1. The Growth of Online Education
The last couple of years have seen skyrocketing participation in online education programs, especially for online bachelors degree programs. Thanks to their flexible schedules and low tuition rates, many students are turning away from the traditional brick and mortar school and opting for the online route instead. Online degree programs are great for the environment, as most online students study primarily from the comfort of their home, cutting out carbon emissions from commuting back and forth to and from class.
2. The iPad
The iPad has been hailed as a revolutionary education tool that can cut out the need for printing excessive amounts of paper required for note taking and textbooks. The new iBooks 2 even allows you to download textbooks directly onto your iPad, eliminating the need for paper-based textbooks all together! The move toward digital course materials has tremendous environmental implications, as each individual textbook produced requires processing a large amount of paper, each textbook delivered requires additional energy consumption for transportation, and each time the versions are updated requires the entire process to be completed again. Digital course materials can make a significant difference in reducing an institution’s carbon footprint.
3. The Popularity of Recycling
Recycling has become particularly popular and en vogue of late, especially on college campuses. Most schools and colleges have recycling bins placed throughout campus and many grade schools are educating their students about the importance of recycling. Teaching young generations the value of recycling will likely lead our future society to be much more environmentally responsible, as they’re more aware of the consequences of their actions.
4. Organized Carpools
Many schools and universities are setting up organized carpools as an incentive to cut back on gas emissions and pollution. These carpools usually work via a group of people sharing a ride to and from school each day, taking turns to drive their respective cars. Students also often get to enjoy the benefit of sharing gas fees as well – making carpooling a great strategy from both a green energy and economic standpoint.
5. Green Buildings
Many campuses around the county have retrofitted old buildings or constructed new buildings to make them as environmentally friendly as possible. Typical “green” elements of buildings include using recycled materials, utilizing solar energy and using various methods to improve water efficiency. These green measures help significantly reduce waste and energy and thus decrease the amount of pollution and general environmental damage large buildings can cause.
Some schools have their buildings officially “certified green” by government officials or environmental agencies as a way of proving their dedication to environmentally-driven causes, and measuring their effectiveness. The United States Government has even offered awards to the most green campuses and schools in America.
As you can see, the effort to go green has taken a firm hold over the American education system, and it shows no sign of slowing down. Hopefully, as more students become aware of the importance of valuing and protecting the environment, additional progress will be made along these lines.
Photo via Dunedin NZ