By Michaela Kapala
Sustainability Studies student
The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) provides numerous resources for any individual seeking to learn more about sustainability and its implementation on their website. With information ranging from blog type posts to actual case studies, readers varying from students to professors to business owners can gather information and take away solid steps that will help them attain their sustainable goals.
Being a hard science student, I enjoyed AASHE’s case studies section of the General Resources for Campus Sustainability. Available in this section are studies submitted from universities and community colleges across the United States on varying projects and goals that that were tested, achieved, and recorded. In this section, I was able to read about the projects other universities have been working on, whether or not they reached their goals, and the steps they took to implement their ideas. A great idea I pulled away from my reading was from a submission made by faculty at Knox College. They created what they call Knox College Free Store, which gives away items that were left behind by students during the moving out times between semesters. These items ranged from clothes to furniture to even food and were given away to students in need both during the move out season and during the semester. This is a wonderfully practical idea that comes with virtually zero upfront cost and greatly reduces waste while improving the life of the student body. I would love to see this project implemented on my campus. AASHE’s case studies section is great for getting solid ideas with backgrounds and steps for students like myself, but AASHE also offers an extensive list of resources for Campus Sustainability Officers as well. Topics in this list range from example job descriptions to networking opportunities through Twitter and Campus Sustainability Forums.
In addition to valuable information for students, AASHE also offers an extensive 117 page long how-to guide for administrators and faculty alike who are interested in creating an action plan for their campus. The Cool Campus! guide is a blog like document complete with pictures and hyperlinks for easy access for more information that offers advice on topics such as “Projects that Can Create Carbon Offsets” to “What To Do If Your President Leaves”. Having this concrete resource free and available to university members holds a tremendous value for any individual who is interested in bringing sustainability to their campus or fostering expansive growth.
AASHE also lists on their website a number of initiatives, one in particular being their Sustainability Tracing, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). This system allows for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. STARS works towards a strong networking connection between colleges and universities as it uses a common set of measurements developed by the campus sustainable community to compare progress between universities. Information is shared via networking about higher education sustainability practices and performance. Initiatives like these will prove to be a valuable assent for any university that is taking the first baby steps towards sustainability.
By providing resources that are pertinent to readers across the academic spectrum, AASHE is an irreplaceable tool for any university or community college and should be common knowledge on every campus.