UNITY, Maine — From locally grown food featured in dining halls to free bikes, from a zero-energy campus house to the country’s first carbon-neutral college, Maine boasts many ecologically minded higher education institutions.
Six of them have been singled out for inclusion in the Princeton Review’s Guide to 286 Green Colleges, the first of the company’s guidebooks focused on finding schools with an “above average” commitment to sustainability, according to The Princeton Review.
The University of Maine in Orono; Unity College; College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor; Colby College in Waterville; Bates College in Lewiston; and Bowdoin College in Brunswick all are included in the guide.
To be tapped as one of the green colleges, hundreds of schools nationwide were surveyed to determine their commitment to use of renewable energy, recycling and conservation, and programs including environmental literacy and LEED green building certification.
At Unity College, the guidebook notes that 100 percent of the school’s energy is “green,” or derived from renewable energy sources, and that 100 percent of the campus grounds are maintained organically. It also lauds how the school’s green commitment “spills into the classroom” through majors such as sustainability design and technology, adventure education leadership and ecology.
The zero-energy consumption Unity House, where President Mitchell Thomashow lives, is built from local wood and recycled materials and uses solar energy for electricity and hot water.
“Sustainability is a core value of all that we do at Unity College,” said Alisa Johnson, dean for enrollment management, in a statement.
“We try to practice what we preach,” College of the Atlantic President David Hales said in a statement. “At COA we believe that an education is not just what you learn in the classroom, it’s how you act in the world. … Institutions everywhere are recognizing that sustainability is the right thing to do; it is also ultimately the fis-cally responsible thing to do.”
The college is noted in the guide as the only one in the U.S. that is carbon-neutral, which it has been since 2007. The guidebook also points out College of the Atlantic’s use of renewable sources of electricity, its well-insulated waterfront student residences, the availability of organic greens from the college’s farm and its com-mitment to recycling.
The guide recognized the University of Maine’s “innovative” program to cut back on motor vehicle use on campus by providing free bikes for use by faculty, staff, students and visitors.
“The result? Hundreds of UM students biking to class and using the shuttle to get around town, which equals hundreds of fewer car trips each year,” noted the book.
The university’s decisions to avoid sprawl and achieve carbon-neutrality by 2040 also were cited by the book, as was faculty and student research on sustainable energy, including cellulosic ethanol, wind and tidal power.