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The Princeton Review again lists UW-Eau Claire among top 'green' schools in country

April 18, 2012
 Princeton Review
EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire has again been named one of the most environmentally responsible colleges and universities in the United States and Canada.

The newly released comprehensive guidebook, "The Princeton Review's Guide to 322 Green Colleges: 2012 Edition," includes UW-Eau Claire among the 322 institutions of higher education that demonstrate a strong commitment to sustainability in its academic offerings, campus infrastructure, activities and career preparation.

The Princeton Review joined with the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council to release the third annual edition of its free guidebook saluting the nation's most environmentally responsible green colleges. UW-Eau Claire, the only public university in western Wisconsin on the green list, also was included in the guide in 2011.

The higher education institutions profiled in the guide all received green ratings of 83 or higher, on a scale from 60-99, based on The Princeton Review survey of hundreds of college administrators. The schools included in the guide were selected after more than 765 schools' green ratings were tallied by The Princeton Review, a well-known education services company.

UW-Eau Claire earned its place among the top eco-friendly schools in North America by making meaningful changes that are putting us on the path toward our long-term commitment to carbon neutrality, said Dr. James E. Boulter, sustainably fellow and interim director of the university's Watershed Institute for Collaborative Environmental Studies.

"This is an exciting honor in that it recognizes all the work done and progress made by students, faculty, staff and administration toward becoming more sustainable." Boulter said. "While there's still much work to be done, a lot is now under way, the entire campus community has made great strides to rethink how we operate and — more importantly — how we teach and learn environmental consciousness and sustainable living. It's a testament to what can be accomplished when we begin to collaborate and strive to cross disciplinary and organizational divides. It's been very exciting to watch."

Specific initiatives highlighted in The Princeton Review guidebook include:

  • The Sustainability Fellowship program. The chancellor's sustainability fellow serves as an intra-campus and community liaison on sustainability issues.
  • The Campus Sustainability Network multimodal transportation working group. Students, faculty and staff work with city of Eau Claire representatives on biking, pedestrian and busing issues.
  • Housing and Residence Life's "Trash Talk Thursday." Local experts discuss opportunities and challenges related to creating a sustainable future.
  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory. UW-Eau Claire created its first inventory in 2008 and a second in 2010 thanks to student-led projects conducted through interdisciplinary classes. An Honors colloquium is working on the 2012 iteration.
  • Housing and Residence Life's sustainability coordinator. This position coordinates sustainability projects such as the Cardboard Corral program, in which students collect cardboard during fall move-in day so it can be recycled instead of going to a landfill.

The guidebook recognizes UW-Eau Claire's Student Senate as a strong leader in sustainability initiatives, noting it proposed having students pay an annual fee to support green initiatives on campus. Approved by the student body via a referendum, the $20 per year fee supports the Student Office of Sustainability, which has developed new initiatives and collaborated with other regional and campus stakeholders on projects such as LED lighting, a bike rental program,the $CORE program that improves the energy efficiency of student rental houses,e-waste recycling, duplexing printers,ZimRide, Green Revolution stationary bikes,water bottle filling stations, a campus garden and a film series on sustainability and food.

"The willingness of our students to fund projects, to take the lead on a variety of these initiatives and their ability to collaborate with a wide array of members of the campus community is impressive," Boulter said. "Not only are they positively impacting the way the university operates, but they are gaining important, marketable career and life skills."

Other 'green' facts noted about UW-Eau Claire in the Princeton report include:

  • 100 percent of the cleaning products used at UW-Eau Claire are green certified.
  • Almost 100 percent of the campus grounds are maintained organically.
  • 16 percent of the university's food budget is spent on local/organic food.
  • About 10percent of the university's energy is purchased as renewable energy credits.
  • Members of the campus community receive free bus passes.
  • New construction meets a comparable rating system to LEED certification.
  • The university provides guidance on 'green' jobs.
  • The university's focus on keeping waste out of landfills led to an unprecedented 75 percent waste diversion rate in 2011.

The national recognition of UW-Eau Claire's sustainability efforts is particularly meaningful as members of the campus community join a variety of university and community activities this week to celebrate Earth Week all week and Earth Day April 22, Boulter said.

The Princeton Review's Guide to 311 Green Colleges can be viewed online.

Dr. Jim Boulter is available to discuss The Princeton Review's green guidebook as well as UW-Eau Claire's sustainability efforts. You can reach him at 715-836-4175 or



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