Many college students are demanding eco-friendly dorms, and colleges are starting to meet that demand with simple changes such as energy-saving light bulbs, low-flow showers, and other high-tech changes.
NPR highlights Pitzer College. Pitzer students returned to school to find organic gardens, buildings built with recycled modular steel, and 80% of building materials found within 200 miles of the campus, which saves on transportation while helping local economies. Dorms feature cross-ventilation, solar power, low-flow toilets, and the campus showcases stormwater recycling and drought-resistant plants. Pitzer’s renovations have received Gold LEED certification.
Students at the University of South Carolina have found that it’s easy and fun to reduce your impact on the planet – to live “green” in their Green Dorm. The West Quad dorm uses solar panels to heat the hot water, and recycles rainwater to water plants. It was built for the same cost of conventional dorms, and reduces the cost of energy throughout its use. USC’s housing director predicts the green dorm to cost 45% less because of the renewable energy. Students noticed the odor-free atmosphere. Carpets were made of recycled material (so they don’t give off carbon dioxide), odorless paint was used, and construction workers weren’t allowed to smoke in the building.
Buildings like West Quad also enhance and protect ecosystems and biodiversity, improve air and water quality, reduce solid waste, and conserve natural resources. Other benefits include improved individual and community health.
Many students go home with the environment in mind and encourage their families to recycle, and live more eco-responsibly. When I read these stories, I’m always looking for something revolutionary, but these ideas are so simple! Reduce, reuse, and recycle are the prominent themes. They save the universities money on energy, and benefit the environment at the same time.
Here are some easy, fun ways to green your dorm, even if you don’t live in a LEED certified green dorm.