As a recipient of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education gold standard and being a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified school, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point has set itself apart from other schools with its environmental conscience.
Dave Barbier, UWSP’s sustainability coordinator, said these awards help the school to be recognized and placed on websites such as College Prowler and eCollegeFinder. These sites help link students to schools that match their interests, such as having sustainability initiatives.
Earning awards and reaching standards that place UWSP on these sites is not an easy task. There are many criteria the school must match to receive AASHE and LEED recognition.
According to stars.aashe.org, several categories are developed and then scored to see how many points are earned in order to gain AASHE recognition. These categories include co-curricular education, research, buildings and dining services.
Within these are many sub-sections the school is scored on. For example, within the dining services category, food and beverage purchasing at UWSP is scored as a 6-6. However, other initiatives such as vegan dining are not being pursued and therefore not gaining points.
According to usgbc.org, LEED certification revolves around buildings rather than programs. Certification is based on whether buildings meet certain environmental codes and at what level these codes are met. There are four levels that qualify for a LEED award: certified, silver, gold and platinum.
As time goes on, both AASHE and LEED increase the criteria that must be met in order for schools to maintain their previous status.
Next year, AASHE is coming out with a new version of qualifications that will require schools to amp up their sustainability levels in order to remain a gold standard school. A great deal of focus will be put on food procurement and the incorporation of sustainability values and goals into courses.
As a student, there are many ways to become involved in making the campus a more environmentally friendly place to be. Alex Thomas, the Student Government Association environmental affairs director, has many goals for this year.
Thomas is currently working toward revamping the Bike Rental Program on campus. This program allows students to rent brand new bikes for free in order to promote sustainable transportation on campus.
Thomas hopes to address the issue of the lack of covered bike parking on campus. He said that if there were more covered parking areas, it would encourage students to feel confident in leaving their bikes outside without worrying about the weather conditions.
Another sustainability resource available on campus is the Green Fund. The Green Fund is student-funded and controlled. It is available for anyone to apply for who has an idea for a sustainability initiative.
To stay connected with sustainability movements on campus, students can follow the UW-Stevens Point Office of Sustainability on Facebook.