But instead of thinking about another recycling program (although it boggles my mind that only 33% of waste is recycled) we should think about how universities should be thinking about their role as a part of the community. College campuses are facing the same problems everyone else is — houses built on sand. Coastal erosion, extreme weather and climate uncertainty are impacting university campuses the same way they are our homes. How are they dealing with these issues?
But even more, how are they educating people to deal with these issues elsewhere? As job-trainers and thought leaders, are they preparing students to enter the workforce for clean energy jobs or sustainable community planning? Are engineering departments teaching students how to build in ways that have less impact on the earth? Are business schools teaching their MBA candidates how to navigate the world of clean energy credits and carbon offsets?
Universities need to be thinking forward and figuring out how to prepare both their own campuses for the future and their graduates for the future. Luckily there are a few programs that are already doing that. We talked to Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon Director, Richard King about how students can leverage their college experience to build for the future, or “rebuild the 20th Century.”