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Is it Expensive for a College Campus to Become More Environmentally Friendly?

A person who is trying to decide where to go to college might want to think beyond financial aid or majors and consider the question, “Is it expensive for a college campus to become more environmentally friendly?” With so much dire news about climate change and the slow progress to mitigate the effects of human activities on the health of the planet, a person might want to put their money where their mouth is and pick a college with an environmentally friendly campus. Here are a few things that campuses are doing in order to become more “green” and how much those changes cost.

Related resource: 50 Great Affordable Eco-Friendly Colleges

Offsetting Carbon Emissions

Some colleges are paying to offset their carbon emissions. The cost of doing this depends on the valuation of carbon dioxide on a per-ton basis as well as the particular college’s level of emissions. There is some market volatility in carbon emissions pricing. Fluctuations in energy prices, including natural gas, electricity kilowatt-hours, and propane also play a role in the cost of offsetting carbon emissions. The price per ton of offsetting carbon emissions has ranged from $3.00 to $4.50 between 2016 and 2019, depending on the location and quantity.

Refurbishing Existing Buildings for LEED Certification

Over time, college buildings have to be refurbished. Many colleges are choosing to pursue LEED certification for refurbished or newly-built buildings. The cost of LEED certification for a building 50,000 square feet or less is approximately $2,900. For a building more than 500,000 square feet, the cost is about $29,000. The cost varies on whether it is a new or refurbished building and the size of the building. These costs do not include a $900 registration fee.

Expansion of Classes on Environmental Topics and Techniques

According to U.S. News and World Report, many colleges are adding classes or updating curriculum within classes or departments in order to encompass environmentalism and activism. Doing this costs a minimal amount of money, and in some classes, it could even save the college money. For example, some colleges have farms for their agriculture, botany, zoology, veterinary and animal science majors. Colleges have expanded the use of those farms in order to grow fruit and vegetables that are served in the cafeterias. They are also using land to create fire pits for pit-firing of ceramics.

Planting Sustainable Gardens

Planting sustainable gardens is increasingly common on college campuses. In spaces where groundskeepers used to plant flowers that required insecticides or pesticides as well as herbicides, they are now coordinating the growth of small herb and vegetable gardens. These are often located along paths to classes and adjacent to buildings. Student groups often manage and care for these gardens. Specific classes may also take charge of a garden for a semester.

Knowing whether or not a college campus is environmentally friendly could make an impact on a person’s decision on where to earn their degree, especially when the other features of campuses are generally equal. Today’s young adults are increasingly concerned about the future of the planet, and this is with good reason. Knowing the answer to, “Is it expensive for a college campus to become more environmentally friendly?” is a key step in deciding where to apply to college and which acceptance to choose.