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Kudos for Sustainability

True to its green goals, Furman University is the proud recipient of several recent awards for the institution’s sustainable practices. On October 9, Furman was named the 2016 winner of the Campus Sustainability Achievement Award by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). This prestigious award, presented at the AASHE Conference & Expo in Baltimore, Maryland, honors higher education institutions for successfully implementing projects that advance sustainability.

Accepting the award at the opening ceremony of the conference were Weston Dripps, Ph.D., executive director of the David E. Shi Center for Sustainability; Joey Espinosa, program coordinator of Furman’s Community Conservation Corps; and Kelly Grant Purvis, assistant director of the Shi Center.

“We won for the best case study for an institution with 10,000 or fewer full-time students,” reports Dripps. The award was based on Furman’s Community Conservation Corps (CCC), which provides free home weatherization to low-income homeowners in the greater Greenville area, and weatherized its 100th home in August. “It was great press for Furman,” Dripps continues. “Anyone who is involved in sustainability was at this conference, so among our respective peers, it was great exposure for us.”

Furman garnered more exposure at the seminar on the CCC that Espinosa and Yancey Fouché, former director of sustainability integration for the Shi Center, led during the conference. “It was great to be recognized before the nearly 2,000 AASHE members who attended the conference, but even better was the opportunity we had to present the CCC to a group of people who wanted to learn more about it,” Espinosa says.

Furman was also recently listed among the “Top 50 Green Colleges” by the Princeton Review. Appearing in the Review’s annual 160-page Guide to 361 Green Colleges: 2016 Edition, Furman was selected out of a group of 640 colleges surveyed. The guide profiles colleges with the most exceptional commitments to sustainability, and its “Green Rating” score measures universities’ sustainability-related policies, practices and programs.

Also in October, the Online College Plan named Furman number 17 in the nation’s “Top 20 Greenest Colleges.” The rankings were based equally on current green measures and future green commitments. The website (www.onlinecollegeplan.com/greenest-colleges/rankings) noted that “Furman is committed to providing a green learning environment through the utilization of various green initiatives, such as conserving water, reducing waste and reducing its overall carbon footprint.”

The most recent award, announced on Monday, October 24, by AASHE, was Furman’s ranking as number seven out of the top 10 Overall Performers in the 2016 Campus Sustainability Index for Baccalaureate Institutions in the U.S. The Index, published by AASHE, highlights top-performing colleges and universities in 17 areas by institution type.

For all these awards, organizations pull data from the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) report that campuses submit to AASHE. This international system grades sustainability performance in higher education and measures performance in operations, academics, engagement, and planning/administration. In 2015, Furman won the Gold Rating—AASHE’s highest rating—for its achievements in sustainability. Furman is one of only four liberal arts institutions in the Southeast to receive a Gold Rating.

“These recent recognitions for sustainability are a true reflection of the values of our students and faculty,” says George C. Shields, Ph.D., Furman’s provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “Furman is the only college of liberal arts and sciences in the country with a major in Sustainability Science, and we are delighted with the past and present leadership of the Shi Center for driving these efforts forward.”

 

 

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