Buildings account for upwards of 80 percent of a campus’s carbon footprint. Inefficient buildings are cause for high energy costs, uncomfortable living/class environments and often times, overshadow other sustainability efforts on the campus.

Building green and operating sustainability can include using locally sourced construction materials, installing energy and water efficient systems, and hosting events to educate building occupants and maintenance staff on the green features.  

There are many ways that you, as a student, can be involved in building management and education:

Participate in Campus Conservation Nationals- an annual competition to reduce energy and water usage on campus.

Advocate that new and large retrofits of existing buildings are designed to earn green building certifications.

Work with facilities to understand how your campus buildings function and ways that energy usage can be reduced.

As institutions of higher learning, colleges and universities often use their green spaces as outdoor learning laboratories. Students may get hands-on training in sustainable agriculture and gardening, for example, or learn how to identify species.  

Green spaces also help conserve energy and water, saving money for colleges and universities. Green roofs provide insulation for buildings and filter storm water. Strategically placed vegetation can help cool buildings and outdoor spaces in the summer, while allowing the sun to provide heat in the winter. 

Forests, grasslands and other habitats can act as carbon sinks, absorbing and storing carbon dioxide in wood and soils and sequestering it from the atmosphere. And last, but certainly not least, campus green spaces can provide homes for wildlife.  

Interested in pursuing a green building career? Check out the green building careers outlook in the EcoLeaders Career Center to learn more about careers in the field, hear from professionals, and map out your career plan.

An Inconvenient Sequel

Years of Living Dangerously

Climate smart educational resources and learning opportunities that correspond to the science and issues presented in the series.