SRU earns 'Green College' designation
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University has been included in "The Princeton Review's Guide to 322 Green Colleges" for the third consecutive year. The guidebook, published in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council, said SRU demonstrates sustainability leadership in academics, infrastructure, activities and career preparation.
"Your commitment to sustainability and to preparing tomorrow's green leaders is highly commended and a wonderful achievement," said Robert Franek, senior vice president and publisher of The Princeton Review.
The Princeton Review chose 322 schools based on a survey it conducted in 2011 of hundreds of colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada. Surveyors asked administrators more than 50 questions about sustainability-related policies, practices and programs.
Institutions received a sustainability score between 60 and 99, with an 83 required to appear in the guidebook.
Franek said commitment to sustainability boosts student recruitment.
"College-bound students are increasingly interested in sustainability issues," he said. "Nearly seven out of 10 told us that having information about a school's commitment to the environment would influence their decision to apply to or attend the school."
In its "green highlight" of SRU, The Princeton Review said "SRU has been built on a sustainability ethic since 1889, when local residents, students and staff developed a farm community. The commitment to sustainable practices continues through a myriad of green initiatives, committees and environmental centers on campus."
The guidebook references SRU's Robert A. Macoskey Center for Sustainable Systems Education and Research, notes the University is developing a Climate Action Plan and has ensured that all new construction projects will seek Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification standards or better. Several SRU buildings have already achieved LEED certification.
"Thanks to a bolstered recycling program, green building and green procurement practices, and the purchase of renewable energy credits, SRU has decreased energy consumption 38 percent over the past seven years, resulting in more than $1 million in fossil fuel cost avoidance," The Princeton Review said.
The company said students fueled the University's participation in RecycleMania and the development of a Sustainable Enterprise Accelerator. Students living in the residential village suites "enjoy the comfort of a LEED certified home boasting energy-efficient heating and air conditioning and dozens of large, energy-efficient windows for plenty of natural light."
While sustainable practice is nothing new at SRU, the University has implemented new greening concepts to save money in utility and construction costs, including a new energy pledge launched by the Energy Conservation Committee.
Students and staff signed the pledge promising to commit to at least three of 10 energy saving options. They include turning out lights and using natural daylight when possible; unplugging chargers and appliances when not in use; powering down computers at night; printing less; taking shorter showers; and taking the stairs.
Another new "small step" includes "Trayless Tuesdays" in Boozel Dining Hall. The program eliminates the use of food trays every Tuesday during breakfast, lunch and dinner. When Trayless Tuesday was first implemented, going trayless reduced food waste 425 pounds, water consumption 700 gallons and detergent use five pounds, said Jeff McTaggart, director of dining services for AVI Fresh, SRU's contracted food vendor.
Boozel's energy usage dropped 317 KWH and food waste by 20-25 percent, said Mary Deemer, SRU assistant sustainability officer. "The reduction in solid waste and energy use reduces our greenhouse gas emissions, getting us closer to our goal of zero waste and carbon neutrality," she said.
To encourage more carpooling, SRU recently joined CommuteInfo.Org. The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission web-based program matches commuters, which reduces the carbon footprint by lessoning reliance on vehicles.
The University recently added a baghouse pollution control system at the boiler plant that reduced coal emissions to nearly 100 times below the federal legal limit. Third party testing shows the plant emits no smoke and a minute amount of particulates. Boiler plant operations exceed U.S. Clean Air Act Standards.
The University has made sustainability part of its goals. The "Reaching for 2025 and Beyond" strategic plan identifies resource management and sustainable design and implementation as institutional priorities.
SRU signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment in 2009, pledging to reduce greenhouse gases.
The Princeton Review provides students and their parents with the resources to research, apply, prepare for and pay for higher education. It publishes more than 150 print and digital media publications. The U.S. Green Building Council is a non-profit organization dedicated to sustainable building design and construction and developers of the LEED rating system.