Mar. 7, 2016
In 2002, a Campus Sustainability Committee was formed at UCCS. 14 years later, UCCS has been nominated for the Green Ribbon Award.
According to the U.S. Department of Green Ribbon Schools’ website, the award recognizes schools, districts and institutes of higher education that reduce environmental impact and costs, as well as improve the health and wellness of schools, students and staff. The nominees also have to provide environmental education.
Schools are nominated for the national award through the Colorado Department of Education. States that participate nominate one school in each category they believe has the potential to win. The Colorado Department of Education nominated UCCS for the institute of higher education category.
Linda Kogan, director of the Office of Sustainability, said that this was not a simple process. The entire application took three months and required help from student organizations as well as faculty.
The Colorado Department of Education visited UCCS and worked with the Office of Sustainability to highlight specific programs that are specific to the campus.
“The Rec Center having five different services is very unique and we should really play that up because there may not be anything like this in the United States,” said Kogan.
Kogan said that while each school is different in its approach to sustainability, the Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Reading System is the main tool used to measure campus sustainability.
“STARS is a peer reviewed, transparent tool that measures sustainability across three major areas: leadership, engagement operations and education,” she said.
UCCS has achieved the STARS gold certification.
While she said there would be no monetary reward for winning the Green Ribbon, there will be a great deal of recognition given to that college.
This would be helpful when applying for grants and establishing leadership in sustainability on a national level, according to Kogan.
To Kogan, a critical development was the adoption of sustainability into the general education curriculum.
“That’s huge because now every student that graduates from UCCS will have had some exposure to sustainability before they graduate.”
Alex Sinchak, a junior majoring in geography and environmental science with a minor in sustainability, is the president of the Students for Environmental Awareness and Sustainability club on campus.
She was excited that UCCS had been nominated.
“(I was) glad to hear we are being recognized for our zero waste initiative, transportation system, recycling and water usage strategies,” she said.
Sinchak hopes that if UCCS wins, it will allow the school to take on more projects and continue down its path of sustainability.
She also believes that with more employers looking for employees with a sustainability background and mindset, UCCS has done a great job educating its students and preparing them for careers.
The Green Ribbon Award results will be released on Earth Day, April 22. To find out more about sustainability on campus or see the Green Ribbon application process, visit www.uccs.edu/~sustain/.