OGDEN — When it comes to sustainability efforts, Weber State University numbers among the nation’s “Cool Schools.”
The school is No. 74, to be precise.
WSU received the honor in a Sierra Magazine poll that surveyed many of the nation’s universities for its September/October issue.
“WSU is deserving because of its unique projects that save energy and taxpayer money while showing that greening a campus can be a win-win situation for everyone — for the environment, for the state,” said Hal Crimmel, who serves on the university’s Environmental Issues Committee. “We are also modeling practices that will help continue to make Utah a great place to live and work.”
The survey is a collaborative effort of four organizations: the Sierra Club, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, the Sustainable Endowments Institute and the Princeton Review. The survey questions centered on measurable environmental goals and achievements. Among Weber State’s recent energy projects are:
• Converting many university vehicles, including shuttle buses, to compressed natural gas.
• Insulating the university’s vast network of steam and chilled water pipes for improved energy efficiency.
• Upgrading lighting to high-efficiency fluorescents.
• Installing solar panels on several buildings.
In addition, WSU has made a policy commitment to become a carbon-neutral university by 2050. The pledge was initiated in 2007 when WSU became an American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment signatory.
“The Energy & Sustainability Office, which has led these initiatives, has been aggressively implementing energy- and water-savings projects over the past few years, and they are starting to save WSU a significant amount of money,” said Jennifer Bodine, sustainability specialist. “This past fiscal year, which ended June 30, WSU saved $939,575 through reduced electricity, natural gas and water consumption.”
Crimmel said Weber State’s success has been due to a collaborative effort.
“Working together, we have created opportunities for students, faculty and community members to become involved in sustainability projects on the WSU campuses,” he said.
Bodine said she hopes Weber State can set a model for Utah residents, businesses and government, proving that energy savings measures can also save money.
“We’re really excited for folks to see how cost effective it can be to be sustainable,” Bodine said. “There’s also research to show that students more and more are taking the environmental score of schools they’re interested in into account when they decide where to go to school.”
So the item in Sierra Magazine, along with other recent press coverage about Weber State’s sustainability programs, could draw more students who are seeking a university that shares their green-living values, Bodine said.
The only other Utah school to make the Sierra Magazine list was University of Utah, which ranked 77th of 96 listed. Top honors in the magazine’s sixth annual poll went to University of California, Davis (No. 1); Georgia Institute of Technology (No. 2); Stanford University (3); University of Washington, Seattle (4); and University of Connecticut (No. 5).