Campus earns national honor for leadership in sustainability

Written by 

Campus shot INSIDE
UAB’s success in reducing its environmental impact, increasing energy efficiencies, improving health and wellness and engaging students in its sustainability efforts have earned it a coveted Green Ribbon from the U.S. Department of Education.

UAB is one of three universities honored at the national and state level for its approach to creating green environments. The DOE Green Ribbon Schools Program, which began in 2011, highlights promising practices and resources that others can employ. In its report on the honorees, the US DOE noted that UAB has, "significant influence in safeguarding the environment, raising awareness and modeling green practices."

“As UAB is a leading academic research institution, health care facility and the largest single employer in the state, effective and sustainable operations are essential to UAB’s mission,” said President Ray Watts. “Our campus has become a living lab for developing novel pathways to sustainability.”

Principles in action

UAB also is commended for fostering sustainability literacy, solutions and leadership; committing to core sustainability principles in all facets of planning and operations; promoting healthy lifestyles and shaping solutions to global challenges.

“Our campus has become a living lab for developing novel pathways to sustainability.”

In addition to measures to reduce energy and water consumption and greenhouse emissions, the university is home to the city’s largest solar-energy system and employs low-impact development standards for construction to preserve and protect old tree growth and promote new planting.

Programs such as CommuteSmart and Zyp Bikeshare offer convenience and incentives to reduce automotive traffic around campus, and three electric car-charging stations opened this year to help reduce emissions in the city center.

The university offers 35 academic courses that integrate social, environmental, and economic sustainability issues with their subject matter, and another 40 courses are planned for designation in the next year.

Students also receive funding through the UAB Sustainability Fund for projects to decrease the university's ecological footprint, which they plan and implement. Funded projects include water bottle-filling stations, more bike racks and repair stations, expanded recycling and the electric car-charging stations.