The students at William Paterson University clearly take a lot of pride in their sustainability initiatives. As a finalist for the 2012 Second Nature Climate Leadership Awards, they won the public voting competition on Planet Forward featuring their innovative climate leadership. The video details how the campus has come together to support the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment and related sustainability initiatives, which includes a massive solar installation and a new bachelor's degree in environmental sustainability.
Check it out:
William Paterson adopted a climate action plan in 2009 that puts the university on a path to becoming carbon neutral by 2065 (and reduce their baseline by 50 percent by 2025). A cornerstone of that work is their 3.5 MW solar array that snakes around parking lots and buildings. It's quite amazing, and a strong visual reminder on campus of the university's climate commitment, not to mention the fact that the project will pay for itself in just five years.
Budget conscious universities take heed: the university has spent less than $250,000 on their energy reduction projects and has saved $10.5 million in energy costs. That's a tremendous amount of saving for doing something that's good for the planet and enrollment numbers.
If the comments that were left on the university's page are any indication, it's a tremendously popular program. The comments were full of supportive messages from students, including John, who said "We are the Pioneers for a reason... That's right America..." and "We have a right to be proud of our climate leadership. It is accomplished through teamwork and collaboration, and benefits campus, community, county, state, nation, and world."
This voting competition makes a strong argument that universities that invest in their sustainability programs get a lot of support from their students and alumni. Over 16,000 votes were cast for 19 schools during the competition, including over 2,000 for the runner-up, Allegheny College. The two schools traded first place several times, but the winner, William Paterson, finally ruled the day. Congratulations!