Top 10 Green HBCUs:
1. University of Maryland Eastern Shore (Princess Anne, MD)
2. Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (Tallahassee, FL)
3. Elizabeth City State University (Elizabeth City, NC)
4. North Carolina Agricultural & Technical University (Greensboro, NC)
5. (Three-Way Tie) Morgan State University (Baltimore, MD), Bowie State University (Bowie, MD) & Mississippi Valley State University (Itta Bena, MS)
1. Spelman College (Atlanta, GA)
2. Howard University (Washington, DC)
3. Morehouse College (Atlanta, GA)
4. Livingstone College (Salisbury, NC)
5. (Tie) Claflin University (Orangeburg, SC) & Clark Atlanta University (Atlanta, GA)
America’s top minority-serving colleges and universities are continually engaged in the work of promoting sustainability in its policies and practices; driving energy efficiency on their campuses; increasing student involvement in the climate change movement; and using innovative, green technologies to address health, economic, and educational challenges in underserved communities.
These are among the chief findings in a new sustainability ranking of the nation’s historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The comprehensive survey analyzes the responses from participating HBCUs in the areas of administration, energy efficiency, green building, recycling, renewable energy generation, food, transportation, purchasing, and student involvement.
The survey results formed the basis of the rankings, which provide a clear picture of the wide-ranging activities underway at HBCUs to generate renewable energy, build to LEED Gold Certification standards, engage students, and develop state-of-the-art curriculum.
Five of the Top 10 Green HBCUs highlighted here have all signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, created sustainability committees, and are taking steps to reduce campus emissions.
Despite their dedication, most institutions responding to the survey indicated moderate-to-significant deferred maintenance and are working hard to leverage opportunities to address this backlog and improve energy and water efficiency.
The survey recognizes and celebrates the achievements of the “Top 10 Green HBCUs” which include: the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Spelman College, Florida A & M University, Howard University, and Elizabeth City State University in the top five. North Carolina Agriculture & Technical University, Livingstone, Bowie State, Morgan State, Mississippi Valley State, Clark Atlanta and Claflin Universities round out the top ten including ties represented in the Top 10 Green HBCUs chart recognizing public and private historically black colleges and universities.
The Building Green Initiative at Clark Atlanta partnered with the North Carolina Institute for Minority Economic Development to conduct a comprehensive sustainability survey of HBCUs.
Renewable Energy – University of Maryland Eastern Shore
Rising energy costs led to innovative, renewable energy solutions for the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES).
University officials became concerned about the impact rising energy prices and the plummeting economy would have on students and their families. As a result, the school teamed up with SunEdison, a global supplier of semi-conductor and solar technology, to open and operate a 17-acre solar farm.
Located just east of the town of Princess Anne, the 2.2 megawatt solar farm boasts a massive grid of 7,800 collection panels and has the largest concentration of photovoltaic modules situated on one site in Maryland.
The solar farm has produced several renewable energy and energy-efficient outcomes in its first year and shows the potential to have an increased environmental impact in future years.
For example, the solar panels have produced more than 3.3 million kilowatt hours (kWh), enough to light up 315 American homes for an entire year. Estimates show operating the solar farm can help UMES lower its energy bills over the next two decades and reduce the university’s carbon footprint by 121 million pounds, the equivalent of having 11,800 cars off the road for a year.
In addition, the university can receive a credit toward future energy bills when it transfers electricity from the solar farm back to the energy grid when the campus is closed for breaks and the demand for electricity is low.
The University of Maryland Eastern Shore’s ability to turn sunshine to energy earned the school the “Environmental Star” award in 2012 from local businesses in recognition of the institution’s efforts to “make the campus and the lower Eastern Shore more eco-friendly in its use of energy.”
Green Building – Spelman College
Spelman College strengthened its commitment to sustainability by transforming the way the institution designs, renovates, and constructs buildings on its historic 39-acre campus.
“Understanding our own environmental impact and seeking to reduce it is a choice that all of us can make every day,” said Spelman President Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum in the college’s Sustainability Statement, first implemented in 2009.
Spelman has put considerable action behind its words by requiring all design and construction of new buildings and major renovations to older buildings on its campus to meet or exceed LEED Silver Certification standards.
One such example is renovations to the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Residence Hall.
Constructed in 1918, Laura Spelman (as it is known on campus) is a 19,700-square foot, three-story building and served as the center of many important programs. The college transformed one of its oldest buildings into a LEED Gold energy-efficient green building through the help of private and public donors, including a $500,000 Capital Challenge grant from the Kresge Foundation.
By collaborating with its alumnae, corporate, individual, and foundation partners, the process of renovating Laura Spelman has helped the college to “reduce energy costs, engage the community, and create more socially conscious leaders.”
Food & Recycling – Florida A & M University
Food and a deep connection to the land are embedded in the rich history of Florida A & M University and its innovative approach to solving modern sustainability issues.
Founded in October 1887, Florida A & M University became a land-grant institution in 1890. As such, the university’s academic and research focus have been connected to the environment. In addition, its location in Tallahassee gives the university the unique distinction of being a land-grant institution in an urban environment.
Many of its students come from urban environments and FAMU integrates environmental literacy, including food, food production and recycling, in its curriculum and campus-wide sustainability practices to encourage students to address urban issues.
FAMU has implemented a number of sustainable food and recycling initiatives such as: recycling used cooking oil, contracting with food service vendors who purchase locally grown foods and organic foods, and maintaining an on-campus garden.
More recently, FAMU students urged the Florida Board of Governors to approve its Student Green Fee. The initiative collects a small, per-credit-hour, fee between 25 cents and $1 to support energy efficiency and renewable energy efforts on campus. If enacted, it could raise more than $1 million annually for energy-efficient and renewable energy projects.
Student Involvement – Howard University
Sustainability is woven into the fabric of campus life at Howard University.
Students learn about the value of sustainability through: skits and presentations, volunteer work, making events more sustainable through carbon offsets and campus beautification for Earth Day, tending a student-run organic garden, and incorporating sustainability into signature campus events like homecoming.
Howard University students also participate in energy competitions with other area schools.
In 2012, for example, Howard won the D.C. Power Down energy conservation competition. The historically-black university beat local rivals with established energy conservation programs, American University and George Washington University.
The contest challenged students at participating universities to decrease their energy use during the month of November. Howard University’s Green Team promoted the competition on campus through social media, engaged in energy audits in student rooms, displayed educational posters and flyers, and turned off lights in empty hallways and common areas. In addition, the team formed a “study buddy” system of encouraging students to pair with a partner or gather in small groups to do homework.
These efforts helped Howard to lower its energy use by 14 percent, outpacing American and George Washington, with 8 and 3 percent energy decreases respectively. In addition, three participating residence halls at Howard saved the university a total of $5,000 in energy costs during the competition.
More recently, a cross-disciplinary team from Howard University won first place in the 2013 Partnership for the Advancement of Collaborative Engineering and Education (PACE) Collaboration and Innovation Challenge for their project tackling the messy and chaotic transportation system in the Washington metro area.
Howard students from the mechanical engineering, and art departments devised a plan that would extend the bicycle sharing initiative in the region to include a pod car system featuring automated vehicles operating on a network of guide-ways, thereby reducing carbon emissions from vehicles.
Policies & Practices — Elizabeth City State University
Elizabeth City State University is on the vanguard of embedding its commitment to sustainability within its governing practices and policies.
It was among the first historically black colleges and universities in the country to establish an Office of Sustainability and hire a director who reports to the Chancellor’s Office.
Elizabeth City State also participates in the University of North Carolina’s Energy Leadership Challenge. The program asks all 17 public campuses of the state’s university system to pledge to significantly reduce energy usage, integrate sustainability throughout the curriculum, and incorporate sustainability within each institution’s strategic plan.
In addition, the university is actively working toward its goal of being carbon neutral by 2050.
Elizabeth City State, for example, partnered with the Environmental Defense Fund in 2011 in a project to identify best practices, behavior modifications, and innovative technologies such as a virtual servers.
The project pinpointed $300,000 in potential savings at an estimated cost of $59,000 to Elizabeth City State with a payback within two years. When implemented, the savings could reduce carbon emissions by 190 tons annually and result in an electrical savings of 370,000 kilowatts.
Elizabeth City State also contracted with Honeywell Corporation to identify energy enhancements in select buildings on campus. This resulted in a projected savings of more than $5 million over a 14-year-period which could be financed through a commercial loan. Upon loan repayment, the university could use future savings to continue to enhance its sustainability efforts.
Campus-wide efforts such as the “Green for All” and “Green the Block” encourage students to learn how their actions — recycling, purchasing organic products, understanding water quality differences, and installing energy-efficient light bulbs – can change the environmental destiny for themselves and surrounding communities in northeastern North Carolina.