Articles have been circulating around Facebook and other social media regarding UNH’s recognition on the Princeton Review’s Green College Honor Roll. Ranking 34th out of 640 colleges tallied in August 2014, inquiries have been made as to why the university ranked so well.
In their Guide to 353 Green Colleges: 2015 Edition Press Release, Princeton Review announced that the tallies were focused around “colleges with the most exceptional commitments to sustainability based on their academic offerings and career preparation for students, campus policies, initiatives and activities.” In a separate link, access was given to a fact sheet that revealed generic “Green Facts” about each selected school.
The Princeton Review gave high regard to UNH’s transportation alternatives, assumedly due to the fact that these alternatives decrease the opportunity for pollution. These include bike share, free or reduced price transit passes, a free campus shuttle (Wildcat Transit), a telecommute program and more. Additionally, the university’s decision to spend 23 percent of the food budget on local, organic food was another critical factor, as this reduces lengthy transportation, potential air and water pollution, habitat loss and more.
More information on Princeton Review’s “Green Facts” can be accessed on their website.
Kelsey Lozier, a junior political science major and coordinator of UNH’s Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC), elaborated on the Princeton Review’s ranking of UNH on the Green College Honor Roll. “UNH has made a lot of progress in making the school more sustainable,” she said.
SEAC functions as an overarching umbrella that fosters the environmental organizations and campaigns at UNH, including organizations such as 350 New Hampshire,Trash2Treasure, CompostCats and Divest UNH, to name a few. All of these organizations encourage composting, and CompostCats in particular has promoted and pushed for the residents of the university to become more involved. This organization has provided awareness to students on what can and cannot be composted, as well as established compost centers located behind the Gables and the dining halls. It is hoped that this awareness will soon be rippled to the campus community and practiced in residence halls.
Choose 2 Reuse, another environmental student organization on campus, has been working on implementing more hydration stations around campus. Additionally, the push to ban the sale of single use plastic water bottles has significantly increased. Their efforts coincide with those of Divest UNH, whose primary motive is to steer UNH away from supporting fossil fuel companies.
Although UNH is fortunate to have campaigns that present students with opportunities to voice their opinions and thus make the campus more sustainable, there remains a singular shift that the university has yet to make; one that has been proposed by several campaigns and by many outraged students and alumni.
UNH invests heavily in fossil fuel companies and relies heavily on the landfill in Rochester to heat the school. Groups such as Divest UNH believe that there will come a time where the university’s reliance on methane will be forced to come to an end.
“It isn’t the most reliable situation but for right now it’s a more sustainable option because there is already a lot of garbage there, unfortunately,” Lozier said. “I would love to see UNH take advantage of their opportunity to work with locally sourced solar companies such as Offshore Wind.”