The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) established the Campus Ecology Program, the first green campus program in the United States, in 1989. Each year, NWF’s Campus Ecology team works with over 1,000 colleges and universities, supporting and empowering students, faculty, and staff in their efforts to advance sustainability on campus and in the community at large. In the face of climate-change-fueled extreme weather events and increasingly serious threats to clean air, clean water, and biodiversity, NWF’s Campus Ecology Program and partner campuses are working on projects to promote colleges and universities as leaders in clean energy development and use, waste reduction, and overall environmental responsibility.
There are myriad ways you can connect with the Campus Ecology Program in your quest for a more sustainable campus and community.
Find out what’s happening at campuses nationwide
One of NWF Campus Ecology’s most popular resources is our Campus Sustainability Case Study Database—a collection of reports about green initiatives at institutions of higher education over the past 20 years. Over 800 case studies span 17 categories, from composting to transportation to green jobs training. The database, updated yearly, is fully searchable by category, state, institution, and year. Read what students on other campuses are up to—if you think a specific project sounds like a fun way to make your campus more sustainable, give it a go, and submit a case study of your own! All case studies contain contact information, or you can e-mail the Campus Ecology staff (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have questions on how to implement a project at your institution.
In recent years, popular case study projects have included garden and green roof installations at multiple campuses. At Blue Ridge Community College in Virginia, students tend a main garden plot, and several recently added “mini-gardens,” donating the harvested crop to a local food bank. Campus garden projects reduce a college or university’s carbon footprint, and lessen their reliance on industrialized agricultural systems. Many gardens are student-run, offering important practical, hands-on experience not only in farming but also in business management. And quite frequently, a portion of the produce is used to benefit the community in some way. Wilbur Wright College in Illinois is gradually converting the college’s Science Building roof to a green roof—almost 500 square feet of carbon dioxide-absorbing vegetation, which also serves as habitat for wildlife and reduces the risk of contaminated storm water runoff from the building.
Connect with other student groups in your region
Are you involved in an eco-club on campus? Are you interested in networking with other groups and schools in your region? NWF’s Campus Ecology Program supports regional networks in the Midwest, Southeast, and Southwest. Connecting with other student leaders in your region enables you to build stronger, wider-reaching campaigns—share resources with your peers and grow your list of participants in letter-writing, phone-banking, or rallies in no time at all!
Explore the NWF Campus Ecology resources
In addition to our previously mentioned Campus Sustainability Case Study Database, the Campus Ecology Program has established a wide collection of resources over the years, all conveniently housed in the “Resources” section of our website. Check out:
- Generation E: Students Leading for a Sustainable, Clean Energy Future for descriptions of student-driven projects organized by topic.
- If you are interested in promoting student leadership for sustainability at your college or university, read our handbook Student Sustainability Educators: A Guide to Creating and Maintaining an Eco-Rep Program on Your Campus.
- Interested in politics and the environment? Download our September 2012 report, A Student’s Guide to How Corporate Oil, Gas and Coal Money Influences U.S. Energy Policy for an in-depth look at the relationship between dirty energy money and the legislative decisions that our elected officials make.
- We also have reports about harnessing geothermal energy on campus and even a how-to guide for developing a climate action plan, as well as an archive of past webinars on all sorts of campus sustainability topics.
If you can’t find what you are looking for on our site, view our list of resources from partner organizations such as the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), the Sustainable Endowment Institute, and the U.S. Green Building Council, among others.
Stay in touch!
Now that you know all about NWF’s Campus Ecology Program, be sure to stay in the loop! We want to know what you’ve been up to as well! Join our e-mail list, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.