October 07, 2016

SIU again earns spot in Princeton Review’s ‘green colleges’ guide

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s commitment to the environment and sustainability has once again earned the university a spot in The Princeton Review’s “Guide to 361 Green Colleges: 2016 Edition.”

SIU has received the recognition five of the last six years; the guide was first published in 2010. The publication bases its assessments on surveys regarding the sustainability-related policies, practices and programs of institutions of higher learning. Schools are not ranked within the list.

“Inclusion in this list is an honor and recognition of the hard work of the campus team members: students, faculty and staff, who promote sustainability on a daily basis,” Geory Kurtzhals, sustainability coordinator, said. “Sustainability is not something that can be achieved by any one person. However, every individual impacts sustainability. I hope that this recognition serves to reward those who have worked to make our campus greener, while catalyzing actions that will help us continuously improve.”

According to Robert Franek, senior vice president/publisher of The Princeton Review, today’s youths are environmentally conscious. Sixty-one percent of the nearly 10,000 teens who participated in The Princeton Review’s 2016 College Hopes & Worries Survey indicated that having information about a school’s commitment to the environment would influence their decision whether to apply to or attend a college.

The green colleges guide includes a profile of each recognized university, including specific “green facts” as well as demographics regarding the student body, cost and more. SIU’s profile notes that the university offers a sustainability-focused degree and that 83 percent of its graduates participated in courses that have a connection to sustainability during their studies. It highlights the use of local/organic food on campus and notes that the university’s overall waste diversion rate is about 18 percent. The profile also recognizes that SIU has a formal sustainability committee as well as a sustainability officer.

Numerous “green” initiatives are in place at SIU, including extensive use of campus waste recycling through special bins and activities, a Forced Aeration Compost Facility, a green roof on the Agriculture Building, First Friday Green Tours to highlight green facilities and activities and a Sustainability Fellows program with unpaid student interns facilitating projects that correlate their interests and campus sustainability. Efforts are underway to turn a bigger spotlight on campus sustainability as well, including highlighting the projects funded through a $10 per-semester Green Fee, adopted as the result of a student-led initiative. Since its inception in 2009, more than $2 million in Green Fund awards have gone to 153 projects.