UT Named Top Sustainable University

The Princeton Review has named UT as one of the top 286 sustainable campuses.

The Princeton Review has named UT as one of the top 286 sustainable campuses.

UT, along with four other universities in Tennessee, will be listed in the “Guide to 286 Green Colleges” and UT’s “Make Orange Green” initiative will be featured.

UTK“I’m really excited and proud that UT has been recognized by the Princeton Review,” Emma Macmillan, junior in journalism and electronic media and a Students Promoting Environmental Action in Knoxville (SPEAK) leader, said. “As a campus, I think we’ve made valiant efforts to improve a variety of sustainable practices.”

Macmillan said SPEAK works to get students involved in helping the environment.

“As the environmental group on campus, SPEAK aims to inform and educate. We want to give students ways to be sustainable,” Macmillan said. “We want to give them a reason to care about their environment. Whether that means handing out re-usable water bottles or showing a documentary about the environmental damage of mountaintop removal, we want to spread the word and get students involved.”

Macmillan said faculty members who work for Make Orange Green are committed to the program.

“I give Gordie Bennett, the sustainability director, and Jay Price, the recycling coordinator, a huge amount of credit,” she said. “They are the guys behind Make Orange Green. They don’t just talk the talk; they walk the walk. They care about the campus, and they care about the environment and it shows.”

Gordie Bennett, sustainability manager of Facilities Services, said he is excited about Make Orange Green being recognized.

“Make Orange Green works with UT faculty, staff and students to integrate sustainability into all facets of the university,” Bennett said. “We coordinate projects and programs that encourage environmental stewardship and contribute to a healthier planet.”

Bennett said one of the big initiatives that Facilities Services takes advantage of is recycling during the football season.

“Facilities Services provides recycling services during UT football games,” he said. “Over time, this effort has grown into the largest gameday recycling program in the country. In 2009, over 60 student volunteers helped us to collect 34 tons of recyclables.”

Bennett said the biggest campaign that has received the most feedback is the “Switch Your Thinking” program under the “Make Orange Green” initiative.

Bennett said this campus-wide energy conservation plan started in the fall of 2008.

“To date, the campaign has saved over $1 million in electricity costs,” he said. “Over 30 campus offices have pledged to support the campaign as ‘Friends of Switchie.'”

Bennett said an example of this is the College of Architecture and Design, which now offers a concentration in sustainable design. He said the Organic and Sustainable Crop Production unit is planning to open a farmer’s market as well.

“I am thrilled that there is so much support for environmental stewardship here at UT,” he said.

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Source: The Daily Beacon
Photo: University of Tennessee