AASHE releases annual review of sustainability in higher education
The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) has announced the release of AASHE Digest 2008, which documents the continued rapid growth of campus sustainability in the U.S. and Canada.
The 356-page report, available as a free download on the AASHE website, includes over 1,350 stories that appeared in the weekly AASHE Bulletin last year. Initiatives from nearly 700 institutions are organized into 28 chapters, spanning education and research, campus operations, and administration and finance. In addition, the publication contains over 90 new campus sustainability resources that were released in 2008.
“The stories in this year's Digest demonstrate higher education’s leadership in creating a sustainable future,” said AASHE’s acting executive director Judy Walton. “Whether helping to build a green economy, tackling climate change, or shaping local and national policies, our colleges and universities are right at the forefront of change,” she noted, and added: “Despite the global economic downturn, or perhaps in part because of it, the creative energy behind sustainability initiatives is flourishing.”
The Digest illustrates the continued expansion of sustainability practices into every sector of campus. Of particular note are the following findings:
* more than 66 sustainability-focused academic programs were created last year
* at least 13 sustainability-themed research centers opened and plans for 33 more were announced
* nearly 300 signatories of the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment publically reported their greenhouse gas emissions (submitting over 400 GHG inventories)
* over 130 campus green buildings were planned, started, opened, or awarded LEED certification
* over 50 sustainability-focused community engagement initiatives were announced by US and Canadian institutions.
Digest stories from last year also document the continued refinement and expansion of systems that evaluate and compare campuses on sustainability criteria. In 2008, the Princeton Review included a green rating in its annual guide to colleges for the first time; the Sustainable Endowments Institute released an interactive website to coincide with its annual report card; and AASHE conducted a year-long pilot of its Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS).
2008 also saw the passage of legislation in the U.S. to create a "University Sustainability Grants Program" at the Department of Education that, once funded, will offer competitive grants to institutions and associations of higher education to develop, implement, and evaluate sustainability curricula, practices, and academic programs.
AASHE Digest 2008 is made possible with the generous support of AASHE business partner Clarion Safety Systems.
AASHE, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, is an association of colleges and universities that are working to create a sustainable future. Our mission is to empower higher education to lead the sustainability transformation. We do this by providing resources, professional development, and a network of support to enable institutions of higher education to model and advance sustainability in everything they do, from governance and operations to education and research. More information about AASHE is available at www.aashe.org.