Today, the NWF Campus Ecology program announces the addition of 112 case studies to our searchable online case study database. This database, which currently holds nearly 800 case studies, has been a valuable resource to campus communities for 23 years, longer than most college students have been alive!

At the University of Wisconsin Madison, Slow Food UW opens a cafe once per week, offering fresh, local, homemade lunch options. Image credit Amy Verhey.
The case studies are from 98 institutions in 28 states and 1 Canadian province, and span 17 categories, from Green Buildings to Waste Reduction. The greatest number of case studies were in the Environmental Education and Outreach category, which includes educational events such as Earth Day celebrations and participation in the energy-use-reduction competition Campus Conservation Nationals. The second-most popular category was Farming and Gardening, including descriptions of green roof construction and community garden plots at various universities, with much of the produce used in dining halls.

The 2012 additions to the database come at a time when 661 college and university presidents have signed the Climate Commitment, and 476 of those institutions have Climate Action Plans, committing to reducing carbon emissions and addressing sustainability at all levels of campus operations. This year’s case studies represent institutions that have been practicing campus greening for a substantial amount of time, as well as campuses that are just getting started; thus the projects described span the spectrum, from the installation of solar arrays to the distribution of travel mugs to freshmen. The case study database, searchable by year, state, topic or institution, allows visitors to learn from their peers and colleagues–to gain perspective and fresh ideas for campus sustainability, and to promote solutions to common obstacles along the road to green.

University of New England studied the feasibility of providing a river ferry service for commuters to the Biddeford Campus of UNE across the Saco River. Image credit Dick Buhr.
My favorite section of each case study is “Challenges and Responses,” in which the person submitting the report describes the tougher moments on their road to achieving their goals. Many institutions faced budgetary tribulations, while others struggled to engage the campus community. But no matter the scope of the problem, everyone seemed to find a way to implement their initial plan, or a close likeness to it, and still come away with the feeling of making a difference and increasing awareness of sustainability on their campus. To me, these are examples of the current strong and resilient movement toward a more sustainable society; the recognition that the combined great efforts of individuals and institutions can help ensure a healthier planet for all species!


View the list of campuses that submitted case studies

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be highlighting select campus sustainability projects on the blog, so keep checking back!

Have you found inspiration from our case study database? What is your favorite project, and why? 

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