In the past 10 years, Southwestern has made major strides in becoming an environmentally-friendly campus. It has built two certified “green” buildings and signed a contract to get all its electricity from wind power for 18 years.
The latest sustainability project on campus is a series of water bottle filling stations (ArrowClean) that have eliminated the need for plastic water bottles.
Their goal is to come up with a comprehensive “sustainability strategic plan” for Southwestern. “We want to make Southwestern the greenest school in Texas,” says Josh Long, who is Southwestern’s first environmental studies professor.
To help accomplish this, Southwestern recently joined the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), which offers a wide range of resources to help universities become more sustainable. Among these is the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), which is used by many guide books that try to rate campuses on how “green” they are.
The Environmental Studies capstone class plans to use the STARS program to calculate Southwestern’s ecological footprint and compare it to peer institutions. More than 600 other colleges and universities are already using STARS.