For the third year in a row, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point was placed on the Princeton Review’s Green College Honor Roll.
The Princeton Green College Honor Roll, which is known for its education services in helping students select and get accepted into colleges, is a measure of a how environmentally aware and responsible an institution is on a scale of 60–99.
“The project, now in its sixth year, offers a measure of how environmentally friendly the schools are,” said Shelly Janowski, the Sustainability Program & Policy Analyst.
Specifically, the honor roll considers whether students have a campus quality of life that is both healthy and sustainable, how well a school is preparing students not only for employment in the clean energy economy of the 21st century, but also for citizenship in a world now defined by environmental challenges, and how environmentally responsible a school’s policies are.
UWSP is among 22 colleges in the United States that has received a Green Rating of 99, the highest score possible, and it is the only college in Wisconsin to make the list.
“It is well deserved, but depending on how questions are weighted, it may be more challenging to make the list each year,” Janowski said.
For example, if native plants as part of landscape management are weighted highly, UWSP would rate on the low scale because plants are chosen based on their hardiness in the Wisconsin climate and their ability to provide color throughout the year.
“UWSP is a natural resources college and planting consideration is given to woody plants that meet the needs of outdoor classroom and teaching needs of courses,” Janowski said. “The recommended tree species can either be a native or non-native species as long as they fit within the tree selection guidelines found in our campus tree plan.”
Another example would be low-impact dining.
“Although our dining services run a very sustainable operation, we don’t offer vegan choices for every meal, so if that question is weighted high, we might not get as many points,” Janowski said.
The Princeton Review tallies scores based on information it receives from colleges.
“UWSP provides data to the Princeton Review, but we don’t know how the questions and responses are weighted each year,” Janowski said.
UWSP has qualified as a green-rated school for the last four years. The campus’s overall commitment to sustainability practices help with its ratings, including having a healthy and sustainable quality of life and preparing students for employment and citizenship in a world defined by environmental changes.
One of the biggest things that UWSP has been recognized for is its Operations and Waste Management Facility, which features a pilot wastewater treatment plant, a microbiology lab, and a connecting recycling center.
“We also have a good start on a solid composting program,” said Dave Barbier, the sustainability coordinator. “I think going forward community outreach will become more predominant, as well as overall student awareness and education.”
The campus also has a strong sustainability commitment when it comes to facilities, whether through the Green cleaning program, electric vehicles for on-campus transportation, or through a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification programs for new buildings and LEED standards for retro furbishing the Resident Halls, which participate in recycling programs and a vermicomposting program.
“Each residence hall is equipped with recycling chutes and there is an on-campus Resource Recovery Center, combined to achieve an impressive 40 percent waste-diversion rate,” Janowski said.
“It is an important educational step for positive change in our culture and something that is already happening in the private and public business world, as well as many government agencies,” Barbier said. “Developing a campus where students are educated about ideas, like the Triple bottom Line and the Natural Step, will better prepare them for the workforce after college and make them more attractive to employers as well.”
UWSP is currently working on a few things to make the campus even more sustainable in the future, including a zero food waste system, sustainable to-go food systems for dining, better biking infrastructure, a sustainable movie series, a more sustainable move out process, and it has an energy conservation measure pending state approval.
“Sustainability is not just about the environment. It’s an important piece, but it’s also about people and economics,” Barbier said. “That is the Triple bottom Line. Plant people and profit. We need to start spreading that message and making sure students know how to look at problems through that lens.”
To stay up to date with sustainability on campus, you can visit their Facebook page.
“We are in the middle of a year ongoing campaign to increase our numbers so students, faculty and the community can stay more informed about what we are doing,” Barbier said.