KSU among nation's most environmentally responsible campuses

The Princeton Review's Green Colleges Guide 2012

LEED-certified buildings and sustainable food initiatives at student dining hall lead green initiatives

As Kennesaw State University gears up to celebrate Earth Day on April 23, The Princeton Review has named the university one of the nation’s most environmentally responsible “green colleges.”

The Princeton Review’s “Guide to 322 Green Colleges” profiles 320 institutions of higher education in the U.S. and two in Canada that demonstrate a strong commitment to sustainability in their academic offerings, campus infrastructure, activities and career preparation. Noted institutions received a score of 83 or better out of a possible 99 points. This is KSU’s second consecutive year on the list.

“A growing number of students look at green ratings as part of their choice criteria,” KSU Sustainability Director R.C. Paul said. “Kennesaw State is becoming a school of choice, and I think this rating is something that can add to the university’s appeal.”

To produce the third annual edition of the free guidebook, The Princeton Review partnered with the United States Green Building Council, a national nonprofit organization best known for developing the LEED green building certification program.

LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, certification provides independent, third-party verification that a building was designed and built using strategies aimed at achieving high performance in key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality .

According to Paul, KSU has two fully certified LEED green buildings on campus – the Social Sciences Building and The Commons Student Culinary Center; one that’s in the process of being certified – Prillaman Hall ; and a fourth under construction – the Science Laboratory Addition.

“From fiscal year 2008 to fiscal year 2010, we experienced 8 percent growth in our student population, but only 1 percent growth in greenhouse gas emissions,” Paul said. “The biggest declines came in emissions per student, which dropped by 9 percent, and emissions per square foot.”

Paul, who was named sustainability director in 2008, credits facilities, planning and The Commons with doing the most to green the campus. The LEED-certified buildings and The Commons’ 100 acres of farmland, which supplies organic, locally grown fruits and vegetables to the student dining hall, are all feathers in the university’s green cap.

The single biggest challenge facing the university’s green efforts, however, continues to be single-occupancy vehicles, Paul said, noting the new shuttle system is helping reduce the university’s carbon footprint.

Another small step forward: the university’s Earth Day festivities, which are being held Monday, April 23, on the Campus Green. There will be live music, giveaways, games and recycling for old computers, printers, cellphones and other electronic devices that shouldn’t be landfilled.

“KSU can and should be at the vanguard in promoting sustainability and environmental awareness in this region,” Paul said. “The Princeton Review rating acknowledges that we’ve begun to make progress in this endeavor.”

By Jennifer Hafer