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Today's tip is about how green colleges across the country are making the grade in terms of high-performance operations.
If there's one vertical market in which high-performance green building and operations have taken root, grown, and flourished faster than any other, it's higher education.
It's not hard to determine why: College-age kids are interested in sustainability, and so sustainable campuses — those that make extensive use of alternative energy, alternative transportation, alternative food sourcing, and forward-thinking, high-performance, student-focused buildings — have an advantage in the increasingly competitive "market" for students.
But perhaps just as importantly, college campuses own their buildings forever. So they're often willing to accept a much longer payback for cutting edge high-performance technologies than, say, a speculative developer in a central business district.
And finally, the progressive intellectual atmosphere at many (most?) college campuses creates an atmosphere where the idea of protecting resources and being stewards of the environment is a natural fit. So sustainability seems to be a bit of an easier sell on college campuses than it might be for other organizations.
It's always fascinating to learn about how innovative colleges are and how they're taking high-performance buildings to the next level. Last week, The Princeton Review, in partnership with the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council, released its annual Guide to 332 Green Colleges — a 217-page book (available as a free download) detailing the sustainable and high-performance initiatives of every major college in the country.
Also fascinating is the Green Honor Roll, a list of 22 colleges and universities leading the charge — they each scored a 99 (the highest possible score) in the Princeton Review's Green Rating tallies. What's interesting is that the colleges on the Green Honor Roll are located all over the country — from Atlanta (Georgia Tech) to Tampa (University of South Florida) to rural Wisconsin (UW Stephens Point) to Vermont (Green Mountain College, Middlebury College) to Portland, Ore. (Lewis and Clark, Portland State) to the predictable cluster of California schools (UCLA, Pomona College, Cal Irvine, Santa Cruz, and Santa Barbara, etc.). Sustainability truly is a nationwide goal!