Greening the Academic Experience

by Kas

Universities nation-wide welcome students to their campuses for the start of a new academic year.  With âsustainabilityâ on the lips of many university administrators and faculty, it comes as no surprise that new student orientations and university move-in programs have âgone green.â 

Some specific examples of âgreenâ activities at The George Washington University include the following:

1) New environmental health masterâs students were provided a tour of the Green Roof on campus. 
2) The annual Green Move-In program is encouraging students to think about reusable packaging, conservation of resources, and reduce carbon footprints through a friendly competition between residence halls.
3) Students moving into the 125 suites in the new Square 80 residence hall will be welcomed with FilterForGood Nalgene Bottles, Brita brand water filters, and Filter Fellows (resident students) promoting the GW Bottle FREE-DOrM program.

What else is going on at GWU or other universities in the Washington, DC area?  What about at institutions of academic learning across the country?  And, what does this mean for human health and the environment?

How many fewer pounds of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will be generated this year versus last?  How many fewer plastic bottles will be used?  How many students will be forever turned onto environmental stewardship?

This sounds like it could be a dissertation proposal: It is hypothesized that in the past five years there has been a statistically-significant difference in the number of students regularly practicing college âmove-inâ stewardship activities and this difference correlates with a reduction in the release of toxic and hazardous substances to the environment.

Will it make a difference?


Kas is an industrial hygienist studying public health in the DC metro area.

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In our college, bottled water is everywhere and the building has thousands of watts of always-on lighting across the atrium from a 5-story window.

Why do they need to filter the water? And, why not just reuse the commercial water bottle?

By Frank Mirer (not verified) on 30 Aug 2009 #permalink

DC water has had many problems, including unsafe lead levels. It also tastes awful. Given how expensive it is to attend GW and the University's less than terrific relationship with neighbors, the University should be doing something useful for the environment.