Higher Education Sustainability Recognized With 2020 AASHE Awards

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education announced 11 winners and an honorable mention for this year’s annual Sustainability Awards.

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) announced this week the 2020 winners of its annual Sustainability Awards, which recognize outstanding achievements and progress toward environmental, social, and economic health. To date, nearly 110 winners have been recognized through this prestigious award program since its inception in 2006. higher education

For 2020, AASHE named 11 winners, and one honorable mention, from 450 submissions across four award categories:

The Lifetime Achievement Award honors outstanding leaders who have made significant contributions to the advancement of sustainability in higher education over their lifetime.

The Campus Sustainability Achievement Award honors higher education institutions for the successful implementation of projects that significantly advance sustainability.

The Student Sustainability Leadership Award honors students and/or student teams from higher education who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in promoting sustainability on campus.

The Campus Sustainability Research Award recognizes research that contributes to the advancement of higher education sustainability.

Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

Nan Jenks-Jay, who recently retired as the dean of Environmental Affairs at Middlebury College, is a leading voice for the environment and sustainability in higher education. She played leadership roles in the development of Environmental Studies programs at Williams College, University of Redlands, and Middlebury College. In addition to her work as an educator, Nan also pioneered a wide variety of campus sustainability strategies — from green buildings and on-site composting to sustainable purchasing, fuel switching, and land conservation — that have helped to make Middlebury an internationally recognized leader in sustainability. She has published and presented widely on her work and served as an advisor to multiple sustainability organizations, including AASHE.

Campus Sustainability Achievement Award Winners

  • Palo Alto College’s Community Garden (see photo below), a space to grow food, cultivate community, and improve food security for the greater Palo Alto community.
  • Dickinson College, Lafayette College, Lehigh University, Muhlenberg College’s Solar Project Collaboration, a collaboration to source 100% of electricity from renewable sources of energy.
  • Georgia Institute of Technology’s Serve-Learn-Sustain’s Affiliated Courses Program, a program that helps faculty integrate sustainable communities education into their courses, with an emphasis on experiential learning through community partnerships.
higher education
Children visit the Palo Alto College Community Garden, a 2020 AASHE Campus Sustainability Achievement Award winner. (Photo: Palo Alto College)

Campus Sustainability Student Leadership Award Winners

  • Sarah Swiersz, Emma Roehrig, Dempsey Perno, Celina Lezcano, and Jady Chen at the University of Central Florida for Greenspace Sustainability Design Town Halls and Make-A-Thon: A model for empowering campus communities to lead the design of sustainable spaces and places, a student-led partnership that focused on a campus community-driven process for designing a new green space on campus.
  • (Honorable Mention) Tyler Warnock and Katherine Liu at the University of Calgary for Building campus capacity for the SDGs: a case study of the SDG Summit conference, an annual training conference that is focused on engaging youth with the Sustainable Development Goals through immersive opportunities for learning, discussion, and networking.

Campus Sustainability Research Award Winners

  • Frances Duncan, Aidan Coffin Ness, Emelyn Chiang, and Kelsey Towne at Smith College for “Reducing Smith College’s Dining GHG emissions: An analysis of beef and milk substitutions”. This undergraduate research paper quantifies the carbon emissions and costs savings that Smith College could achieve by substituting turkey, tofu, or black beans for beef and switching to plant-based milk substitutes such as soy milk or almond milk.
  • Nuria Bautista Puig at Carlos III University of Madrid (Spain) for “Unveiling the path towards sustainability: scientific interest at HEIs from a scientometric approach in the period 2008-2017”. This dissertation investigates the patterns of sustainability research from 2008–2017 and proposes a methodology for classifying the scientific output in relation to each U.N. Sustainable Development Goal.
  • Scott Munro Strachan, Stephen Marshall, and Paul Murray at University of Strathclyde (UK), and Edward J. Coyle, and Julia Sonnenberg-Klein at Georgia Institute of Technology for “Using Vertically Integrated Projects to embed research-based education for sustainable development in undergraduate curricula.” This research article describes a practical and scalable method of integrating SDG research and research-based education within undergraduate curricula implemented by the University of Strathclyde.
  • Joshua Long, Joanna Mendez, Keara Hudler, Lilly Dennis, and Nataley Ford at Southwestern University, and Muriel DiNella at University of Sydney (Australia) for “Intersectional sustainability and student activism: A framework for achieving social sustainability on university campuses”. This research paper notes a significant disconnect between rhetoric and action in higher education’s commitment to the social aspects of sustainability and suggests intersectional sustainability as a framework for addressing this disconnect.
  • Ryan P. Shea, Matthew O. Worsham, Andrew D. Chiasson, J. Kelly Kissock, Benjamin J. McCall at the University of Dayton for “A lifecycle cost analysis of transitioning to a fully-electrified, renewably powered, and carbon-neutral campus at the University of Dayton”. This research paper analyzes the cost-effectiveness of four primary emissions reduction strategies and finds that achieving a carbon-neutral campus by 2025 would increase the 30-year lifecycle cost of University of Dayton’s energy systems by only 2.4%
  • Ana Rita Amaral, Eugénio Rodrigues, Adélio Rodrigues Gaspar. and Álvaro Gomes at University of Coimbra (Portugal) for “A review of empirical data of sustainability initiatives in university campus operations”. This research paper catalogs and classifies the actions and initiatives higher institutions are implementing to advance sustainability (as reported in scientific publications and case studies). It finds that increasing energy generation on campus and decreasing energy consumption in buildings are by far the most commonly implemented strategies, though there is limited information about the impact of these strategies.

Award recipients receive a variety of recognition, including a plaque made of Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood from Rivanna, a woman-owned B Corp with a strong commitment to sustainability.

To read more about AASHE’s awards programs, visit https://www.aashe.org/get-involved/awards/.

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