According to The Princeton Review, Michigan State University is one of the nation’s most environmentally responsible colleges. One of the reasons it achieved this status is because they designated all MSU Libraries as Climate Resilience Hubs to help address the climate crisis and offer resilience programming by the American Library Association.
For the second consecutive year, MSU is ranked on Princeton Review’s list of Top 50 Green Colleges. Positioned at No. 35 in the nation, MSU continues to be the only Big Ten school and the only Michigan school appearing in the top 50.
“MSU’s commitment to the environment is reflected not only in what we learn in the laboratory or field and teach in our classrooms, but also in how we operate,” said MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. “It’s nice to be recognized once again for how we support sustainability on a daily basis.”
Since its debut in the ranking last year, MSU has continued to expand and advance sustainability efforts consistent with its four pillars of success: campus, curriculum, community and culture. Recent MSU sustainability actions and achievements include:
- Surpassing its Better Buildings Challenge goal of achieving a 20% reduction in building energy use by 2020, two years ahead of schedule. The Infrastructure Planning and Facilities team achieved an energy savings of 21% across 20 million square feet of campus facilities — roughly equivalent to the annual energy demands of 4,400 typical Michigan homes;
- Earning LEED Silver Certification for the newest residential community, 1855 Place;
- Receiving two Gold awards for sustainability by the National Association of College and University Food Services. The recognitions were in outreach and education efforts and food procurement practices by the Residential and Hospitality Services team, specifically:
- Highlighting supply chain outcomes that included reduction of plastic usage by more than 28,000 pounds. Additionally, the procurement team reduced the impact of transportation emissions and deliveries, issuing 435 fewer purchase orders and a 20% decline in overall dining orders.
- Expanded university partnerships with MSU Dairy Store, MSU Meat Lab, Bailey GREENhouse and Urban Farm, and the MSU Student Organic Farm, which also grew support for teaching and research. Implementing MSU Dairy Store ice cream into residential dining as the exclusive provider resulted in more than $45,000 to support its facility and streamlining Meat Lab product use increased annual intake by 12,868 pounds.
- Contributing to MSU’s My Spartan Story campaign, which recognizes student activities and engagement in sustainable projects and initiatives, such as the Student Sustainability Leadership Council, and projects like the MSU Public Transportation Safety Initiative funded by the Ford Motor Company Fund.
Launching an institution-wide pledge for students, faculty, staff, alumni and community partners to learn about and engage in sustainable living.
“Our latest ranking reflects the passion and commitment of MSU’s faculty, staff, students, alumni and community in advocating for the planet and preparing the next generation of environmental leaders,” said Amy Butler, MSU director of sustainability. “Seeing MSU included prominently on this ranking reflects our commitment to sustainability and how it advances our mission as well as celebrates our accomplishments in building the roadmap to a global sustainable future.”
The ranking is based on data from an institutional survey of college administrators; the university’s Sustainability Tracking, Accounting and Reporting Assessment, known as AASHE STARS; and student surveys conducted by The Princeton Review.
“MSU is home to leading research and cutting-edge technologies in sustainability, award-winning programs that shepherd environmental stewardship and thousands of faculty, staff and students working to make a difference each day,” said Dianne Byrum, MSU Board of Trustees chairperson.
“We know that we have the scope and scale to make a difference by reducing our carbon footprint at the same time we contribute global solutions through a wide range of research. Each day, we are contributing to sustainability globally and right here at home,” she added.
The Top Green Colleges ranking appeared in The Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges: 2021 Edition. The guide, which featured 416 schools out of 695 surveyed, is based on a survey of administrators at hundreds of four-year colleges about their institutions’ commitments to the environment and sustainability.
The profiles in the guide present information on each school’s renewable energy, recycling and conservation programs; the availability of environmental studies in academic offerings; and career guidance for green jobs. The Princeton Review has seen a high level of interest among college applicants and their parents in colleges with green practices, programs and offerings. A total of 66% of 12,845 respondents (college-bound teens and parents) to the Princeton Review’s 2020 College Hopes & Worries Survey said that having information about a college’s commitment to the environment would affect their decision to apply to or attend a school.
Photo of MSU campus courtesy of MSU.