WMU earns national recognition from U.S. Green Building Council

by Cheryl Roland
| WMU News

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University is one of just 10 schools and individuals nationwide honored Dec. 17 by the U.S. Green Building Council's Center for Green Schools, which named the top innovators in school sustainability at all educational levels.

WMU was named the 2014 Best of Green Schools recipient in USGBC's higher education category. The annual awards program is designed to recognize the best environmental efforts in schools across the country. In making the announcement, the council's leadership lauded more than 20 years of WMU sustainability accomplishments in energy conservation efforts, recycling and waste reduction programs and support of cooperative research into green manufacturing practices."

'An ideal example'

"Every one of the honorees is a leader, taking risks, setting an example for others, innovating and diligently pursuing a world in which every student attends a green school within the next generation," said Rachel Gutter, director of the Center for Green Schools in announcing the 10 winners. "The WMU community lives out sustainable values in a unique and powerful way; they are an ideal example of how colleges and universities can set national standards for excellence."

The award means WMU will receive recognition from the council throughout the coming year and have access to a Green Classroom Professional Certificate Program. That program is a tool to help school staff and educators identify what supports or impedes healthy, resource-efficient and environmentally sustainable learning spaces.

"I'm deeply appreciative of the U.S. Green Building Council's recognition of the fact that sustainability, in the very broadest sense of the term, is a core value for this University," says WMU President John M. Dunn. "We build sustainable learning environments and encourage members of our community to view the broader context of protecting our resources and using them in a way that means they'll remain available to benefit a new generation. Our students are advocates and change agents who will have an impact for decades to come."

Visit centerforgreenschools.org/bestof2014 for more information on each of this year's honorees.

About WMU's sustainability efforts

Western Michigan University's sustainability efforts, which are part of its strategic plan, date back to 1971 when the University established Michigan's first environmental studies program. In 1980, WMU launched a quasi-green revolving fund—the first in the nation—that is used to fund energy-saving projects. Energy savings from those efforts have been captured and reinvested in additional energy-saving initiatives over the years. Additional work at WMU has focused on solar power, electric vehicles, food and gardening storm water management, and interdisciplinary efforts to build sustainability into curricula and research. In 2010 WMU students became the first student body in Michigan to initiate and approve a fee that supports campus sustainability initiatives and provides funding for student research.

With 20 buildings on campus that are either certified or registered for certification, the University's commitment to LEED—Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design—is one of the highest in Michigan. In 2015, WMU aims to establish a LEED Lab program on campus. The University has been recognized in Princeton Review's Guide to 322 Green Colleges. Additionally, the Sustainable Endowments Institute recognizes WMU as one of 80 national campus sustainability leaders and the Detroit Free Press has named the University a Michigan Green Leader.

About the Center for Green Schools at USGBC

The Center for Green Schools at the U.S Green Building Council is making sure every student has the opportunity to attend a green school within this generation. From kindergarten to college and beyond, the Center for Green Schools works directly with staff, teachers, faculty, students, administrators, elected officials and communities to drive the transformation of all schools into sustainable places to live and learn, work and play. For more information, visit centerforgreenschools.org.

About the U.S. Green Building Council

The U.S. Green Building Council is committed to a prosperous and sustainable future through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings. USGBC works toward its mission of market transformation through its LEED green building program, robust educational offerings, a nationwide network of chapters and affiliates, the annual Greenbuild International Conference & Expo, the Center for Green Schools, and advocacy in support of public policy that encourages and enables green buildings and communities. For more information, visit usgbc.org.