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How Students See Sustainability

By Kristin Simmons Ferguson
Higher Ed Associate

The Center for Green Schools was recently invited to present on LEED v4 at the Society for College and University Planners’ (SCUP) annual conference. With my colleague Chrissy Macken, manager of LEED technical development, we provided an overview of what changes are coming, suggestions for how to implement these changes into campus planning now and a sense of timing for the release of the new rating system. We were honored to be invited to present on a subject that fit nicely into the conference’s theme of “make no isolated plans – integrating planning for educational quality.” It was exciting to see, again, how interested and engaged the higher education community is in realizing a greener future now and I know that this group will continue to drive innovation and demonstrate leadership in support of the Center’s mission of green schools for all within this generation.

One of the personal highlights of the conference for me was learning about Herman Miller’s student video competition, which this year asked the question “What makes your campus green?” During a session that included the top three videos and the students who produced them, I learned that about Pensacola State College’s “Super-Eco Academy” from Captain Conservation, the University of Washington’s sustainability paradigm of the campus of the brain and the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs’ commitment to giving lesser known sustainability programs a platform to education students, faculty and staff.

Jeff Vredevoogd from Herman Miller moderated the session and shared his top five takeaways from all of the video submissions:

  • 1. Green teams are key to success on campus.
  • 2. Recycling and composting are often step one in ramping up sustainability.
  • 3. Bikes and buses make a difference and take a chunk out of carbon emissions.
  • 4. LEED is a standard on campus.
  • 5. Washables trump recyclables on campus, when available.

I would encourage you to take some time to review the student videos, as Herman Miller has featured six honorary mentions in addition to the top tour three finalists on their website. I hope you will enjoy these videos as much as I did, not least of all for the encouragement they bring about our student leaders.