A new survey has found that Oregon State University is a pretty green place to be, and not just because of its beautiful campus.
The Sierra Club has released its “Cool Schools” rankings based on the ‘greenness’ of participating universities, and Oregon State has the highest green ranking in the state, and is listed as 24th in the nation.
The Cool Schools ranking is open to all four-year undergraduate colleges and universities in the nation. Evaluations were based on survey information provided by the 162 participating schools, as well as follow up inquiries and outside sources. The survey included 10 categories: energy supply, efficiency, food, academics, purchasing, transportation, waste management, administration, financial investments and other initiatives.
Oregon State received perfect-10 scores in administration and other initiatives, and scores of eight in academics, transport, waste and investments.
Among the highlights of Oregon State’s green efforts is the OSU Energy Center, which comes online this year, and will generate around 50 percent of OSU’s campus electricity with a natural gas-fired turbine and heat recovery steam generator, according to Brandon Trelstad, OSU’s sustainability coordinator. The center will almost eliminate OSU’s reliance on coal-based energy.
OSU is the seventh largest purchaser of green power on the EPA’s Green Power Partnership program list.
Trelstad also noted OSU’s extensive natural resources and sustainability centers, institutes and programs, courses focused on energy efficiency and sustainability, and other environment-based courses. Half of the paper used on campus is made from at least 30 percent recycled content, and 52 percent of campus waste is being diverted from landfills.
All three dining centers have compost services and collection, and OSU Campus Recycling collects discarded items from residence halls at the end of every term. There is also an active Student Sustainability Center on campus.
Pete Lepre, recycling program manager, said there have been a number of efforts in the past few years to improve the amount of recycling on campus, as well as to raise awareness of students, staff and visitors to the importance of recycling. Lepre said one of the biggest challenges is having an influx of thousands of new freshmen each year, many of whom come from communities where recycling isn’t emphasized, or is nonexistent.
OSU also has added recycling bins outside of Reser Stadium during football games, which has helped keep cans and bottles out of the landfill, and Lepre said they’re hoping to raise awareness during tailgating events for participants to pack out what they pack in.
“We’re trying very hard to get people to understand how important and easy it is to recycle,” Lepre said.
Portland State University came in at 27th place, followed by Willamette University in 52nd, Lewis & Clark College in 77th and Southern Oregon in 96th. No other Oregon colleges appeared in the rankings.