COLLEGE STATION Just in time for Earth Day (today, April 22) Princeton Review has named Texas A&M University as one of the nation’s “Green Colleges” in its 2014 college guide.
Princeton Review, in collaboration with the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), profiles schools in the U.S. and two in Canada and noted that Texas A&M “demonstrates exemplary commitments to sustainability in their academics, campus infrastructure, activities and career preparation.”
The guide lists Texas A&M as a charter member of the AASHE Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) program, and in 2012 the school received a silver STARS ranking. Recently the school launched the Energy Action Plan 2015 with the goal of reducing energy consumption by 20 percent between 2011 and 2015.
Since 2002, Texas A&M has managed to decrease its energy consumption from 6.8 trillion BTUs to 4.8 trillion while simultaneously expanding the campus, according to the guide listing.
The guide’s conservation notation relates to Texas A&M being awarded a $10 million grant by the U.S. Department of Energy in 2010 to help fund a new combined heat and power (CHP) generation system to meet growing energy needs for the institution’s 5,200-acre campus. When the plant became operational, even though the campus continued to expand, energy cost continued to drop. In 2013 university energy officials say multi-million-dollar annual savings are being achieved through energy-related cost avoidance. At the same time, water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions are markedly lower and environmentally friendly methods of waste management have significantly increased the percentage of solid waste material being recycled and kept out of the landfill.
In March 2008, The Office of Sustainability was founded to enhance these efforts by creating a culture of sustainability in Aggieland. The office works to respect, protect and preserve the financial, environmental and people resources at Texas A&M.
Sustainability officials with the office say that from its inception as a land-grant institution in 1876 to the additional sea-grant and space-grant designations, Texas A&M has been a leader in research and education for how people interact with -- and impact –- the environment.
As an example of this, recycling events are planned around Earth Day on the university campus. One such event is hosted by Texas A&M Information Technology and the Environmental Issues Committee (EIC) student committee to make recycling small electronics easier for students, faculty and staff. Through April 24, CDs/DVDs, ink cartridges, small batteries, cell phones, cameras, MP3 players, headphones, cables, calculators, laptops and flash drives can be recycled at receptacles located at the Student Computing Center, General Services Complex and the computer labs at West Campus Library, Blocker and Zachry.
The university and its various campus conservation and sustainability campaigns fit well with the goals of Earth Day. This day is intended to create awareness and appreciation for Earth's natural environment. On April 22, more than one billion people around the globe will participate in Earth Day. People of all nationalities and backgrounds will voice their appreciation for the planet and demand its protection for a sustainable future.
The Princeton Review guide can be downloaded at http://www.princetonreview.com/green-guide and via the USGBC Center for Green Schools' site at www.centerforgreenschools.org/greenguide.