From electronics recycling to waste diversion — find out which campuses are leading the way in sustainability initiatives

by Brianna Crandall — October 26, 2018 — The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) recently announced the 2018 winners of its annual campus sustainability awards for their outstanding achievements and progress toward sustainability. AASHE bestows its prestigious awards on the institutions and individuals that it identifies as leading higher education to a sustainable future.

This year, AASHE received over 300 total entries with winners named in four categories:

  • The Lifetime Achievement Award (NEW!) honors outstanding leaders who have made significant contributions to the advancement of sustainability in higher education over their lifetimes.
  • The Campus Sustainability Achievement Award honors higher education institutions for successful implementation of projects that significantly advance sustainability.
  • The Student Sustainability Leadership Award honors students and/or student teams from higher education who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in promoting sustainability on campus.
  • The Campus Sustainability Research Award recognizes research that contributes to the advancement of higher education sustainability.

Award winners were recognized on October 2 at the 2018 AASHE Conference and Expo in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Their campus sustainability initiatives and achievements are highlighted below.

Lifetime Achievement Award

  • Dr. Tony Cortese, principal at Intentional Endowments Network: With over three decades of leadership, Dr. Cortese played an essential role in the formation of many of the key organizations and frameworks — including the Talloires Declaration, Second Nature, AASHE, the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, and the Intentional Endowments Network — that have guided the evolution of the movement for sustainability by and in higher education.

Student Sustainability Leadership Award

  • Evan Zachary of Rochester Institute of Technology for “Recovery and Reuse; On-Campus and Off,” which features two student-driven programs — Goodbye Goodbuy! and Flower City Pickers Inc.–that focus efforts on volunteer-driven waste recovery and redistribution.

Campus Sustainability Achievement Award

  • Hampshire College for “R.W. Kern Center — A Living Building.” The R.W. Kern Center is a Living Building Challenge-certified multipurpose facility that generates its own energy, captures and treats its own water, and processes and recycles its waste.
  • Bow Valley College for its “progress toward 90% waste diversion goal.” Traditional recycling and composting programs, and special programs for fabric, plastic gloves, batteries, pens, IV bags, cooking oil, and electronics recycling enabled the college to increase its recycling rate from 19% to 76% in only four years.
  • Emory University for its “WaterHub — Engaging Campus and Community in Water Reclamation.” This on-site water recycling system uses biomimicry to reclaim wastewater for heating and cooling buildings and flushing toilets.

Campus Sustainability Research Award

  • Breanna Parker at Smith College for “Designing a Proxy Carbon Price Strategy for Smith College.” This undergraduate thesis identified and analyzed strategies to incorporate the proxy carbon price into financial decisions. It provides eight recommendations for proxy carbon pricing for Smith.
  • Frida Agbor Besong at University of Buea (Cameroon) for “Infusing Sustainability in Higher Education in Ireland: The Green Curriculum Model (GCM) and the Dispositions, Abilities and Behaviours (DAB) Competency Framework.” This graduate research paper presents the Green Curriculum Model, a conceptual-design framework for educators to re-orient curricula towards sustainability, and a sustainability competencies assessment tool that profiles learners’ sustainability competencies.
  • Dafna Gelbgiser at Tel Aviv University and Kyle Albert at George Washington University for “Green for All? Gender Segregation and Green Fields of Study in American Higher Education.” This study examined gender segregation within academic programs and found that green academic programs are characterized by greater gender equality than non-green programs.
  • Elizabeth Davey at Tulane University for “Recapturing the Learning Opportunities of University Sustainability Indicators.” This paper argues for using the process of assessing sustainability in higher education to engage and educate students.
  • Rodrigo Lozano and Kaisu Sammalisto at Gävle University College, Kim Ceulemans at Toulouse Business School, Francisco J. Lozano at Tecnológico de Monterrey, and Michelle Y. Merrill for “Connecting Competences and Pedagogical Approaches for Sustainable Development in Higher Education: A Literature Review and Framework Proposal.” This paper examines how different pedagogical approaches impact the development of sustainability competencies among students.
  • Ian Williams at University of Southampton for “Towards a Universal Carbon Footprint Standard: A Case Study of Carbon Management at Universities.” This study develops a standardized method for calculating greenhouse gas emissions generated by higher education institutions.

Award recipients receive recognition in a variety of formats as well as a plaque made of Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood from Rivanna, a woman-owned B Corp with a strong commitment to sustainability. To date, more than 85 campuses been recognized through this prestigious award program since its inception in 2006.

To read more about AASHE’s award programs, or for more details about each of the 2018 award winners and their campus sustainability initiatives, visit the group’s website.