For Immediate Release
October 14, 2009
Contacts: David Ottalini, 301 405 4076 or email@example.com
Maryland Named Top Green Campus
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland has been named a winner of the "America's Greenest Campus" contest -- which challenged colleges across the country to spread awareness about energy use and reduce their carbon footprint.
Among the more than 450 competing universities, Maryland had the highest number of students, faculty and staff participating, with 2,257 signing up on contest sponsor Campus Culture's Web site to calculate their impact on the environment. Rio Salado College in Tempe, Ariz., had the highest carbon reduction, or 4.4 percent among 524 participants, according to contest results released today. Both of the schools won $5,000.
The award comes a week after the university approved an ambitious carbon action plan to reach carbon neutrality on campus by 2050.
"Winning this contest reinforces the level of activism and interest that our students have in environmental issues," says Mark Stewart, Maryland's campus sustainability coordinator. "Through the Student Government Association, through this contest, through constant petitioning outside the [Stamp Student] Union, there's just wonderful activism, and I'm inspired daily by the passion of our students."
The new contest encouraged anyone with a .edu e-mail address to participate in the contest, a joint partnership between energy-efficiency marketing organization SmartPower and Climate Culture, an online carbon measurement and reduction utility, with support from the U.S. Department of Energy and partnerships with leading environmental groups such as the National Wildlife Federation and the Sierra Student Coalition.
Participants create an account at Climate Culture's Web site, key in their ZIP code and respond to lifestyle questions --including some written with the help of Stewart's office -- about their housing, shopping and recreational activities, and transportation and travel. The calculator measures their water, gas and energy consumption and suggests actions that users can take to cut that impact. These range from switching from an electronic to manual toothbrush, to huge commitments like installing solar panels on your roof. Popular examples for students include downloading movies online rather than driving to a video store or paying to go to a theater.
More than 21,000 students signed on during the contest's run from late March to Oct. 5, says Adam Sandler, vice president of online marketing at Campus Culture. The calculating service is still available, and the company will continue to measure the metrics for universities.
"We'd like to think this contest is a good juxtaposition of what colleges are doing in terms of the institution and the administration," he says. "We find that they don't factor in student lifestyles -- that's the angle we're taking."
At Maryland, members of the SGA's Student Sustainability Committee led the effort to get their peers to participate in the contest. Joanna Calabrese, a senior majoring in environmental science and policy, says she and the other committee members jumped at this first campuswide opportunity focused on environmental sustainability.
"We encouraged people not to just use the site, but to learn," she says.
Calabrese says the committee plans to spend its winnings to keep afloat the Engaged University program, which she calls a model of an environmentally sustainable community.
For more information contact: Mark Stewart at 301.405.4633 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information provided by the Office of University Communications
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