BSU Receives Green Ribbon For Eco-Friendly Campus
Bemidji State University is being recognized for its environmentally friendly changes to its campus by the U.S. Department of Education. The college was one of nine post-secondary institutions nationwide to receive the Green Ribbon Schools Postsecondary Sustainability award.
The Department recognized 63 total honorees, including 45 schools and nine school districts, according to a press release. The schools and school districts are being recognized for innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education.
“To be able to say we are one of top three campuses in Minnesota when it comes to sustainability is exciting,” said Erika Bailey-Johnson, BSU sustainability coordinator, in a statement. “It speaks loudly to our history and to the decades of work we have done in this area. And it also speaks loudly to our future and who we are as an institution.”
In its recognition of Bemidji State University as a Postsecondary Sustainability recipient, the U.S. Department of Education noted several specific sustainability initiatives at the university including:
- In 2008, BSU signed the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment and surpassed its interim carbon reduction goal of 2 percent by 2015, reducing emissions by 3 percent from a 2010 baseline. BSU reaffirmed its commitment when President Faith C. Hensrud signed the Second Nature Carbon Commitment in April 2017.
- In the last two years, BSU has constructed one LEED-certified building — the newly renovated Memorial Hall, which in 2016 was a finalist for a sustainability award in the State of Minnesota’s Buildings, Benchmarks, and Beyond (B3) competition— and one ENERGY STAR-certified building.
- BSU and several partners, including Leech Lake Tribal College, Rural Renewable Energy Alliance, and Northwest Technical College, built a fossil fuel-free fish house, the first of its kind in the nation.
- BSU’s Donate, Don’t Dumpster program encourages students to donate gently used items to a FreeStore. Since it opened in 2010, the FreeStore has kept more than 10,000 items out of landfills.
- BSU installed a series of water-conservation devices such as low-flow shower heads and faucets which since 2010 have saved more than 15 million gallons of water. Bottle refilling stations have saved an additional 50,000 gallons of bottled water.
- Since 2006, BSU has doubled campus recycling and reduced waste production by 30 percent.
- BSU’s sustainability efforts include a significant focus on the wellness of students, faculty and staff. The university launched a broad-reaching student wellness initiative called The Best You @ BSU, and an active Living Well, Working Well committee provides programming and support for faculty and staff.
“At BSU, sustainability always has been student-driven and student-led,” Bailey-Johnson said in a statement. “BSU’s Students for the Environment club is engaged in sustainability issues both on campus and in the Bemidji community. Members of the campus community take pride in that.”
Other honorees from Minnesota include Edgewood Early Childhood & La ola del lago Spanish Immersion School in Prior Lake and Pilot Knob STEM Magnet School in Eagan.
The U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools awards began in 2012 following extensive collaboration with national non-profits and other federal agencies to honor schools for their sustainable facilities, health practices and effective environmental education. The award recognizes achievement in three broad categories of sustainable practices:
- Reducing environmental impact of facilities, grounds, and operations;
- Improving health and wellness by promoting a healthy physical environment and student and staff wellness practices; and
- Offering effective environmental and sustainability education, including civic learning, green careers and STEM connections.