With back-to-school time in full swing, many American students are returning to schools that are increasingly focusing on going green. Both American universities and school districts are finding ways to cut down on waste and improve sustainability.
Many of these green initiatives have been implemented by school administrators. Standing out on a national level is the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). According to its website, the ACUPCC:
Is a high-visibility effort to address global climate disruption undertaken by a network of colleges and universities that have made institutional commitments to eliminate net greenhouse gas emissions from specified campus operations, and to promote the research and educational efforts of higher education to equip society to re-stabilize the earth’s climate.
The ACUPCC originated at a conference at Arizona State in 2006. Twelve college presidents founded the group in December 2006 and there are now 667 signatories.
There are many other green school initiatives around the country.
A new elementary school in Lexington, Kentucky opened this year with several green features. School lighting is amplified by light from solar tubes and the school's toilets are flushed with collected rainwater.
A school district near Syracuse, New York is also installing solar panels, which educators hope to integrate into the curriculum.
Earlier this year, Virginia Beach Public Schools built a new transportation facility that received the highest level LEED certification, featuring wind turbines and solar panels.
According to School Bus Fleet, several school districts across the country are becoming more environmentally friendly and cutting costs by running their school buses on bio-diesel or alternative fuels.
The Maryland State Board of Education enacted a new policy this year that requires all Maryland high school students to be “environmentally literate” before they graduate. The measure is also being considered nationally.
What can individual students do to lower the carbon footprint of their school and raise awareness of environmental issues?
The Do Something organization is parterning with Best Buy to help encourage recycling of electronics. The e-waste drive, running through the end of September, will award educational grants to the group that recycles the most. According to Do Something, Americans throw away one and a half million tons of electronic waste each year, the majority of which could be recycled.
Launching this fall is a new website called Go Green Students, which aims to help students of all ages find ways to go green at their schools. In the meantime, check out their Twitter updates for green students news.
TreeHugger also offers some back-to-school tips on how to be more green this fall. For example, they suggest buying non-essential school supplies in small quantities and purchasing paper with the “highest percentage of post-consumer recycled content possible.”
GreenBiz suggests five tips for students to increase recycling programs on college campuses. To get started, they recommend establishing a green council at your school to find out what's already being done and how to get more people involved.
This October, many schools around the country will be participating in International Walk to School Month. This event, which was supported by First Lady Michelle Obama last year, encourages kids to walk or bike to school to help cut down on the environmental impact of transportation.
Changing personal habits may be easier than enacting change across a entire university or school district. Family Education offers some tips on how to make an impact at your child's school. They suggest first identifying and reaching out to someone who may be interested in environmental issues at the school, and forming a committee from there.
The Huffington Post reported earlier this year on young students who challenged their schools to go green, and saw significant results.
Earlier this year, Sierra Magazine compiled a list of the greenest colleges in the U.S., with the University of Washington topping the list.