Colleges have huge buildings with lots of students often spanning many city blocks. And there’s so many colleges that, well, they use a lot of resources. So it's a good idea for college dorms to start switching to more eco-friendly and sustainable practices.
They’re not only reducing the carbon footprint from the college itself, they’re also educating their students on eco-friendly practices they can apply in their life. And the colleges on this list have managed to achieve style while creating their sustainable buildings...
Warren Wilson College, Asheville, N.C.
Warren Wilson College dorms have earned the prestigious Platinum LEED Certification making it the first college to meet that level of sustainable practices. This beautiful dorm houses 36 students and uses approximately 69% less electricity than non-sustainable structures of the same size. It features 2 kitchens, an outdoor vegetable garden, solar panels, a substantial rainwater collection system, insulated panels, low emissions paint and lots of recycled and salvaged materials.
University of Bradford, The Green
This buildings called the “green” for good reason: They invested $63 million into making this 1,000 student dormitory one of the greenest buildings on earth. It scored the highest score on the BREEAM rating scale (Britain's sustainable rating scale) that’s ever been given. The Green features energy use monitors, solar water heaters, rainwater collection ponds, sustainable timber, low energy electrical features, and an outdoor garden just to name a few features.
University of Colorado, At Boulder
UC-Boulder works with the National Renewable Energy Labs to create wind turbines at the Wind Research Park. This wind energy is then fed back into the electrical grid helping to reduce emissions and provide sustainable power for the community. UC-Boulder also features a number of large buildings with solar panels to offset their own electrical needs, has over 474 courses in sustainability and operates 26 LEED buildings.
Ithaca College, Ithaca, N.Y.
Ithaca College decided that they would use 100% wind generated energy in January of 2018 meaning they’re completely “off grid” so to speak. They also feature an array of solar panels and their Dorothy D. and Roy H. Business and Sustainable Enterprise building has a vegetated roof that reuses rainwater runoff. The school also recently added charging stations for both students and staff to charge their electric vehicles for up to 4 hours.
Pomona College, Sontag and Pomona Hall
Two of the newest halls on the Pomona campus, these buildings contain more than 30 suites and 153 single rooms. They were built with LEED Platinum standards in mind and managed to achieve this remarkable distinction. Each floor of the building has common rooms, full kitchen, A/C that shuts off when windows open, solar water heaters, solar panels for power, low use water fixtures and a rooftop garden.
Western Oregon University, Ackerman Hall
Ackerman Hall was apparently the first large-scale, new construction hall in the U.S. to earn Platinum LEED certification. And this isn’t their only building with LEED certification. Their Richard Woodcock Education Center, new Student Health and Counseling center, and the DeVolder Family Science center are all built to LEED silver standards. Just to name a few of their sustainable features, their buildings house large storm-water runoff capture systems, design for high natural ventilation, rooftop solar panels, and a recycled glass patio. Although, being an Oregon University we would expect nothing less.
University of New Hampshire, Durham, N.H.
UNH at Durham is one of only three to earn STARS Platinum status. The STARS test applies to the sustainability performance at higher education institutions. One of the most unique actions they’ve taken is to create a landfill gas-to-energy system. When this was completed in 2009, it made them the first to use gas from the landfill as its main energy source. And while gas isn’t as friendly as solar, they’re harvesting it from the gas that’s already being generated by the landfill. This means it doesn’t require any harmful extraction methods like fracking which can do significant damage to the environment.
Duke University, Home Depot Smart Home
This small 10-person dorm is more than just green. It achieved a LEED Platinum rating by using solar panels, rainwater runoff capture systems, green roofing, and low energy electronics. It’s 6,000 square feet and doubles as a working laboratory for students who want to test new technology and learn about sustainability. Currently, this building houses a diverse group of students from all walks of life and degree paths with the goal of exploring energy efficient lifestyles.
University of Amsterdam, Keetwonen
One of the cooler and most progressive designs on the list, University of Amsterdam has created dorms from used shipping containers to house more than 1,000 students. While this recycled city doesn’t have the same energy efficient amenities as the others on this list, it made the cut because of its innovative use of containers which would otherwise go to the landfill. Additionally, Amsterdam was facing a major shortage of student dorms when this project was commissioned and it has now grown to the second most popular student housing in Amsterdam.
College of The Atlantic, Bar Harbor, Maine
College of The Atlantic is not only teaching sustainability in their curriculum, they’re also applying it to their lifestyle. They’ve began renovating their older buildings (some more than 100 years old) and applying sustainable measures to their new construction. The campus features wood pellet boilers, solar panels for electricity, low emissions paints, and composting toilets to name a few. To see more details about what they do, you can view their sustainable buildings page.