Six Oregon colleges were featured in the new issue of The Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges, including Linfield College. The college guide publisher profiles 311 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada that it says have an outstanding commitment to sustainable practices. The publishers did not rank the schools, but says each scored in the 80s and 90s in their survey about green practices.
In 2006-07 Linfield College students initiated Greenfield, an organization devoted to environmental activism. Numerous activities, including an annual student-managed conference, focus on energy conservation.
They promote alternative transportation through a student-managed bike shop that loans bikes to the campus community free of charge. (There are now roughly 300 bicycles on campus.)
As part of a “Light Up McMinnville” project, 100 students walk door to door in the community each year offering to swap incandescent light bulbs for free energy efficient compact fluorescents. Thousands of bulbs have been replaced.
Linfield offers an environmental studies major, and environmental themes crop up across the curriculum, with science students studying alternative energy, the chemistry of pollution and the greenhouse effect. Much of the curriculum and research is tied to the region, with students focusing on issues like invasive species in local habitats or sustainable approaches to growing pinot noir grapes.
Linfield has reduced its carbon footprint through green building standards and implementation of energy conservation projects across campus. Buildings have been retrofitted for energy efficiency and all major capital projects are required to meet LEED Silver standards. The school was among the first colleges in the Pacific Northwest to partner with U Car Share, a car sharing program. Because of the extensive grounds, water conservation is a special challenge; one full-time employee is dedicated to minimizing water use.
“We as a species seem to be rushing towards our carrying capacity on Planet Earth, said David Kellner-Rode, an environmental studies senior. “If our species persists on this unsustainable path, I am afraid it will lead to widespread suffering as resources — like water — become increasingly scarce. We need to make an adjustment now to avoid a drastic adjustment later, and to make sure future generations have the same opportunities for happiness and prosperity that we have enjoyed.
“Sometimes it can be easy to lose hope when all you hear about is how large our environmental problems are,” he said. “My experiences have made me truly optimistic about our chances for a sustainable future.”