Bemidji State earns The Princeton Review “Green School” designation

BEMIDJI, Minn. (April 28, 2011) — Bemidji State University has been named as one of the nation’s 311 most eco-friendly campuses by the U.S. Green Building Council and “The Princeton Review.”

“The Princeton Review’s Guide to 311 Green Colleges” provides information for students looking to attend a college or university that has demonstrated a strong commitment to creating and maintaining sustainable campuses. The guide assesses higher-education institutions to determine whether students have a campus quality of life that is healthful and sustainable; how well a school is preparing students for employment in the green economy; and how environmentally responsible a school’s policies are.

“The Princeton Review” compiled and analyzed data from 10 survey questions to judge colleges and universities included on the list:
• The percentage of food expenditures that goes toward local, organic or otherwise environmentally preferable food.
• Whether a school offers programs including free bus passes, universal access transit passes, bike sharing or renting, car sharing, carpool parking, vanpooling or guaranteed rides home to encourage alternatives to single-passenger automobile use for students.
• Whether a school has a formal committee with participation from students that is devoted to advancing sustainability on campus.
• Whether new buildings are required to be certified LEED Silver.
• The school’s overall waste diversion rate.
• Whether the school has an environmental studies major, minor or concentration.
• Whether the school has an “environmental literacy” requirement.
• Whether the school has produced a publicly available greenhouse gas emissions inventory and adopted a climate action plan consistent with 80 percent greenhouse gas reductions by 2050 targets.
• What percentage of the school’s energy consumption, including heating, cooling and electrical, is derived from renewable sources (this definition included “green tags” but not nuclear or large-scale hydropower).
• Whether the school employs a dedicated full-time (or full-time equivalent) sustainability officer.

Environmental stewardship has long been one of Bemidji State University’s signature themes and has employed a full-time sustainability officer, Erika Bailey-Johnson, since 2008. BSU students also began voluntarily paying a “green fee” of $5 per semester in the fall of 2008, which is used to fund environmental stewardship, awareness and education activities on campus. Also in 2008, the University became a signatory of the University Presidents Climate Commitment and joined the effort to make college campuses carbon-neutral.

“Students, faculty and staff at Bemidji State have really made an effort to understand what sustainability means and how it relates to their lives,” Bailey-Johnson said. “It is an honor to have the University recognized for all of its efforts. It is very important, environmentally and economically, that we continue to consider the University’s commitment to environmental stewardship with every decision.”

Bemidji State also participates in annual energy-savings challenges. A student-driven “Do It In the Dark” effort in the fall is an annual competition among residence halls on campus to see which can attain the largest percentage energy reduction, and in the spring the University participates in the Minnesota Campus Energy Challenge, an energy-reduction competition amongst a number of colleges and universities in Minnesota. Bemidji State has won the Campus Energy Challenge each of the last two years; the winner of the 2011 challenge will be announced in May.

Additionally, the University has undertaken a variety of projects to conserve electricity all over campus. BSU replaced an incandescent light-based message board on Paul Bunyan Drive with an energy-efficient LED-based board last summer. The University also replaced a variety of lighting with more energy-efficient lights in a number of buildings on campus with help from a $20,000 Schools Cutting Carbon grant.