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Sustainability Study Reveals Green Revolution Blooming at America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Atlanta, GA – The 2014 HBCU Green Report released today provides clear evidence that there is significant activity underway on historically black colleges and university (HBCU) campuses to promote sustainable living and adopt energy efficient practices despite their absence in major national green surveys. A collaborative project of the Building Green Initiative (BGI) at Clark Atlanta University (CAU) and the North Carolina Institute of Minority Economic Development (NCIMED), the report found hothouses of sustainable innovation at HBCUs across the country.

“It is unfortunate that our HBCUs are not better represented in mainstream reports,” says Dr. Carlton Brown, Ed.D., president, Clark Atlanta University. “The HBCU Green Report reveals that HBCUs have embraced environmental stewardship as a core value and are striving to green our campuses, curriculum and communities that we serve.”

A few eco-friendly highlights featured in the report include the University of Maryland Eastern Shore’s solar farm which generates enough power to supply 1000 average homes; Spelman College’s Laura Spelman Rockefeller Hall, a recent LEED Gold renovation; Florida A&M has established a new Sustainability Institute; Morehouse takes students to Ghana for a sustainable development course; and, Huston Tillotson is converting a dumpster into an eco-home. Howard University’s “Green Team” won the D.C. Power Down energy conservation competition reducing overall energy use by 14 percent and also won second place in this year’s Home Depot Retool Your School contest.

Andrea Harris, president, NCIMED adds, “The report clearly demonstrates numerous policies and practices adopted by these institutions that not only will have a significant impact on reducing carbon emissions, lowering greenhouse gases, minimizing water pollution and unnecessary consumption, and dramatically decreasing the flow of solid waste to landfills, but also demonstrates that they get the message that energy efficiency and sustainability can have a significant impact on the bottom line.”

The BGI team noted that they were motivated to produce the HBCU Green Report to dispel the myth that black colleges are not going green that is reinforced when 99% of HBCUs are still absent from influential higher education green survey’s likeThe Princeton Review’s Guide to 332 Green Colleges which was released earlier this week.

“The HBCU Green Report is our second sustainability survey of minority-serving institutions and the timing could not be better with the recent release of the Green 2.0 Diversity Report” says Felicia M. Davis, director of the Building Green Initiative at CAU. “Were it not for the HBCU Green Report, it would appear that Chaney University is the only HBCU going green. This flawed impression is a disservice to the entire higher education community, especially for students seeking green campuses.”

Clark Atlanta University, BGI host, has committed to a 20 percent reduction of energy consumption across the campus within five years; doubling campus recycling efforts by 2015; reducing emissions by motivating the University community to walk, bike, carpool or use public transit to get to and from campus; promoting LEED-certified buildings and landscapes; and ensuring that sustainability issues remain an integral part of CAU’s academic curriculum and the CAU experience.

Forty-three institutions participated in this year’s HBCU Green Report, representing a wide swath of representing a wide swath of rural, suburban and urban institutions. Respondents were nearly evenly split between private (52.17 percent) and public (47.83 percent) institutions. The survey collected sustainability data in five essential categories: Administration, Green Building, Student Involvement, Food and Recycling, and Climate Change and Energy.

From its inception at UNCF in 2010, the Building Green Initiative has worked to advance campus-wide sustainability at minority-serving institutions. Since moving to Clark Atlanta University last year, the Kresge Foundation funded, Building Green Initiative has coordinated the Atlanta University Center Vine City EcoDistrict sustainability planning process selected as a national “Target City”. BGI also expanded support for HBCU sustainability activities and managed the UNCF/Toyota Green Ambassador program impacting 27 HBCU campuses. Working in partnership with all of the major national higher education sustainability organizations BGI maintains the www.buildinggreennetwork.org website where the full report can be downloaded.

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