College Dorms Getting Greener and Greener

Though Iโ€™ve never experienced the college dorm setting in my lifetime, I have spent far too much of my time watching TV shows focusing on the college dorm (Gilmore Girls anyone?). So this story has a little bit of a soft spot with me, on top of the fact that it is just really cool environmental awareness and friendliness.

Students at Sarah Lawrenceโ€™s Warren Green Hall will this fall be composting together, monitoring their electricity usage and drying their dirty laundry on a clothesline. Theyโ€™ll be sharing appliances, cooking and shopping together too, to reduce waste and energy, and using the electric light as little as possible.
And on the face of it, the students couldnโ€™t be happier with the idea. “It means a lot to me that the college is thinking about this really seriously,” says Justin Butler, the co-founder of Sustainable SLC (Sarah Lawrence College), which partnered with the school on the green residence house, and only 20 years old. “It’s very different if it’s just students working for this as opposed to it being a joint effort.”

Many colleges have been environmentally friendly for some time now, well ahead of the curve in having communal campus cleanups and recycling efforts, often led by the students. But now the students and their parents are looking to where they will be staying. Mark Cunningham, director of housing and dining at the University of California, San Diego, notes that prospective parents and students are actively asking about sustainability.

Colleges are also beginning to brag about their Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certificates, awarded by the US Green Building Council. So far there are a total of 236 LEED-certified buildings on college campuses across the country, and another 1,547 in the process of being registered.

So though I may never get the chance to live in a college dorm, I do applaud what the American colleges are doing in what is yet another group looking to a sustainable future.


credit: Mr.Scholastic at Flickr under a Creative Commons license

  1. Natalie

    This is really exciting – I cringe when I think about the amount of recyclable items thrown away in the dining hall alone during my college years.

    And dorm cleanups after parties often yield piles of cans and bottles, often with no nearby place to recycle them…so they ended up with all of the other landfilled waste.

    For students who are lucky enough to have parents provide for their education, there’s also the sense that everything is free – so excessively long showers, frequent washing of small loads of clothing, and wasting of food are far too common.

    As much as I enjoyed my college experience, I think many schools give students the feeling of being in a bubble, and it’s hard to remember that they’re part of a larger world. Green dorms and LEED-certified buildings are excellent first steps, and I hope to see more and more of this.

  2. Rob

    Hopefully the many off-campus apartments for students will eventually follow suit. Its good to hear Universities are seeking LEED certification now too, especially since all the big public institutions of higher learning rely so much on tax dollars.

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