By Jake Crouse, Copy Editor
Campus green initiatives earned Furman University the distinction of “sustainability leader” from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). The award was published in the AASHE 2015 Sustainable Campus Index.
AASHE rates higher education institutions across the nation in 17 areas of sustainability, assessed by the organization’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS). The system allows universities to self-report on sustainability efforts and shortcomings in their communities. STARS takes this information and breaks it down into four categories: academics, engagement, operations and planning and administration.
In addition to being named a sustainability leader in the index, Furman led the area of Campus Engagement, scoring a perfect 100 percent. The category determines how effectively a university provides and encourages sustainability learning initiatives outside of the classroom, and how much support is shown for faculty, staff and other employees to be involved in sustainability efforts.
Furman was also named a Rising Star in the index for increasing its score by 15 points or more since the last reporting period. Yancey Fouche of the David E. Shi Center for Sustainability reports that a number of new programs and offerings on campus, including the bike rental program “Paladins on Bikes,” have been added in tandem with the increase in funding and partners. This has translated into a more hands-on environment for students in sustainability.
“The Center for Sustainability has collaborated with more than 100 community partner organizations on research projects, student fellowships and sharing lessons learned,” Fouche said. “We have [also] been incredibly successful bringing in outside funds…with about $14 million garnered to date.”
Director of the Shi Center for Sustainability, Angela Halfacre, Ph.D., believes the recognition is indicative of the hard work that students, faculty and staff have put in over the years to make sustainability an imperative on campus.
“This recognition is the culmination of all our departments and divisions here at Furman collaborating to create a more sustainable campus,” Halfacre said. “In doing so, we hope that our efforts can serve as an example of what works in our region and beyond.”
Fouche hopes Furman students take advantage of the many sustainability initiatives during their college experience and use that knowledge to affect the planet in a positive way, no matter the profession they choose to enter.
“I’m glad that my alma mater develops just such individuals,” Fouche said. “From professors who question the environmental impact of university investment decisions, to administrators who prioritize and implement safe pedestrian access between The Vinings and campus, to students who envision a built space in Greenville, where white-collar families and displaced individuals live in community.”