Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education

Embargoed until 8:00 PST Thursday, October 5, 2006
Contact: Julian Dautremont-Smith, AASHE Associate Director - (610) 349-5994

Campus Sustainability Leadership Awards Presented at AASHE 2006

Largest Campus Sustainability Gathering to Date

Tempe, AZ: The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) presented its first annual Campus Sustainability Leadership Awards Thursday night. The winners were the University of British Columbia, Berea College, Warren Wilson College, and Lane Community College. The awards recognize institutions that have demonstrated an outstanding overall commitment to sustainability in their governance, academics, operations, and community outreach. Each winner received $750 cash and a $250 gift card from award sponsor Office Depot.

AASHE also presented a Student Sustainability Leadership Award to Emilie Brill-Duisberg, a senior at the University of Arizona. The award, which comes with a $750 prize, honors an undergraduate student from an AASHE member institution who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in promoting campus sustainability.

The awards were presented during AASHE's inaugural conference, The Role of Higher Education in Creating a Sustainable World (Oct. 4-6 at Arizona State University). With over 650 registered participants, the conference is the largest campus sustainability gathering to date in the United States or Canada.

"We had a very impressive pool of applicants this first year, so winning one of these awards is a major achievement," said Judy Walton, the Executive Director of AASHE.

The awards are endorsed by the Higher Education Associations Sustainability Consortium (HEASC), a network of 13 leading higher education associations with a commitment to advancing sustainability within their constituencies as well as in the system of higher education.

AASHE received 35 applications for the campus awards and 12 applicants for the student award. The award winners were selected by pools of campus sustainability experts assembled by AASHE. Brill-Duisberg faced particularly close competition for the student award, with judges awarding four honorable mentions.

Brief summaries of the achievements of each award winner is included below. Applications for the campus awards have been posted online at:

AASHE is an association of colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada working to create a sustainable future. It was founded in 2006 with a mission to promote sustainability in all sectors of higher education - from governance and operations to curriculum and outreach - through education, communication, research and professional development. Its membership has quadrupled since its establishment. It now counts 150 campus members and is still growing rapidly. AASHE defines sustainability in an inclusive way, encompassing human and ecological health, social justice, secure livelihoods, and a better world for all generations.

Summary of Award Winner Achievements

Campus Sustainability Leadership Awards

One Campus Sustainability Leadership Award was given in each of the following categories:

  • Community colleges and other two-year institutions
  • Four-year and graduate institutions under 1,000 student FTE
  • Four-year and graduate institutions 1,001 - 10,000 student FTE
  • Four-year and graduate institutions over 10,000 student FTE

Lane Community College(Eugene, OR) has set a goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050. Toward this end, the College is engaged in an ambitious effort to conserve energy and is already purchasing 10 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. In addition, Lane has committed to the "LEED Certified" standard as a minimum for all new buildings, and provides students with free bus passes. The College has provided funding for curriculum development to faculty who are interested in integrating sustainability concepts into their work and is an active participant in the City of Eugene's Sustainable Business Initiative. Lane is one of only a few community colleges to employ a full-time Sustainability Coordinator.

Warren Wilson College (Asheville, NC) - Warren Wilson College's triad of academics, work and service are integrated into its overarching mission to educate for environmental responsibility. The College's recent sustainability distinctions include the purchase of wind energy for 100 percent of its electricity consumption; LEED Gold certification for the new Orr Cottage; and recognition as the 2006 "Outstanding Conservation Farm Family" for Western North Carolina. In addition, all new construction and renovation is LEED-designed, all cleaning products used on campus are Green Seal certified, and the College Garden provides organically grown produce for campus dining services. Many of these activities are coordinated through the College's Environmental Leadership Center.

Berea College (Berea, KY) - The Ecovillage at Berea is a sustainability-oriented residential and learning complex. Apartments in the Ecovillage are designed for high efficiency, and all sewage is treated in a series of tanks filled with plants, fish, and other aquaculture. The College is investing over $100 million in "green" renovations and serves locally grown food in the dining hall. The College offers a minor in Sustainability and Environmental Studies and the Agriculture and Natural Resources department offers a major concentration in sustainable systems. To coordinate and implement its sustainability initiatives, the College employs a full-time Sustainability Coordinator and four other sustainability-related positions as well as several dozen student positions focused on sustainability.

University of British Columbia (Vancouver, BC) has adopted a comprehensive Sustainability Strategy which sets 68 targets and actions for achieving nine major sustainability goals. The University recently completed the largest efficiency upgrade ever to take place on a Canadian campus and expects to reduce energy use by 20 percent and water consumption in core facilities by 30 percent. All students have unlimited free access to public transportation. Academically, the University offers over 300 courses dealing with sustainability and several departments have adopted sustainability as a core value. The University's sustainability efforts are coordinated through its Sustainability Office, which is funded entirely by savings from its energy reduction programs and currently employs 7 staff members and 10 students.

Student Sustainability Leadership Awards

Emilie Brill-Duisberg is a founding member and current president of Participating Agents in Resource Allocation for Sustainably Oriented Living (PARASOL), the University of Arizona's student environmental umbrella organization. Through PARASOL, Emilie worked with faculty to create a course focused on rainwater harvesting, a technique to address water scarcity - a major concern in Tucson. Under Emilie's leadership, students in the class designed and installed a working rainwater harvesting system on the UA campus. As a result of the success of Emilie's efforts, the class will be held annually and development of additional rainwater harvesting projects is already underway. Judges were particularly impressed with the practical nature of Emilie's project as well as the connection she forged between coursework and the physical campus.

Honorable Mentions: Jeh Custer from the University of Saskatchewan was recognized for his role in the establishment of a Campus Sustainability Network as well as his success in convincing the University Students' Council to adopt a sustainability policy. Anna Day received honorable mention for her leadership in a wide variety of sustainability initiatives at Ithaca College. Andrew de Coriolis of Oberlin College was recognized for his work on sustainable transportation, including coordinating the launch of a car sharing program. Claire Roby of American University received honorable mention for her role in the passage of a clean energy referendum by AU students.