Colleges and Universities around the country are wanting to improve their ecological impact while also providing students opportunities to learn about sustainable living. Some are taking the ecovillage model and integrating it into their campus planning and student residences.
The University of Maine is exploring ecovillages with the notion of turning some of its less attractive dorms into an ecological demonstration project:
An energetic group of students and faculty have been developing plans to convert these former apartment-style dorm rooms on the fringe of campus into an “ecovillage.”
Organizers envision the so-called “York Ecovillage” as a model of sustainable living where students will eat food from local greenhouses and gardens, recycle almost all waste and live in rooms powered by the sun and heated by the Earth.
Berea College Ecovillage in Kentucky has been providing ecological living for students since 2003.
Guided by intertwined educational, environmental, and social goals, the Ecovillage is an ecologically-sustainable residential and learning complex designed to meet housing needs for student families, childcare for campus children, and provide a living/labor opportunity for students interested in sustainability.
Rigorous performance goals for the Ecovillage include: reduction of energy use by 75%; reduction of per capita water use by 75%; treatment of sewage and wastewater on-site to swimmable quality, and recycling, reusing or composting at least 50% of waste.
Giving students an opportunity for community living is not new. There are hundreds of student co-ops at colleges and universities around the country and many of them have a simple living or ecological focus.
The Homestead at Denison University in Ohio has been offering community and simple living experience for students since 1977.
We are off the grid, utilizing solar energy to pump water and to power some appliances. Cooking and heating are accomplished with wood-burning stoves.
At Stanford University they have plans in the works for a Green Dorm which would house students ecologically. Unfortunately Stanford’s plans do not incorporate cooperative living into the dorm, despite the fact that their feasibility study shows that some campus co-ops such as Synergy already use 30% less energy than the average.
Hopefully colleges and universities will include the aspects of the ecovillage model which incorporates both sustainable technology and principles of cooperation in their efforts to green their campuses.