SU recognized for environmental effort

Posted: April 30, 2013

The Winchester Star

Over the past few years, Shenandoah University has increased its green space by, among other things, removing some paved surfaces on campus and by creating Sarah’s Glen, a 2-acre green space that serves as a performance venue, an outdoor classroom, a gathering spot and a memorial garden with native plants. The space was dedicated in October 2012. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)

WINCHESTER — Shenandoah University is one of the 322 most environmentally responsible colleges in the United States and Canada, according to The Princeton Review.

The third annual ranking evaluated colleges and universities on their environmentally related policies, practices and academic offerings.

The schools were then given a score on a scale of 60 to 99.

Green ratings were reported for 806 institutions in 2012. SU, which earned a 90, was among the 322 schools that received scores of 83 or higher.

Ten schools on the list hail from Virginia.

Over the past few years, SU has increased its green space by removing some paved surfaces on campus and by creating Sarah’s Glen, a 21/2-acre green space that serves as a performance venue, an outdoor classroom, a gathering spot and a memorial garden with native plants.

The school has also drastically reduced its paper usage through printing kiosks; put a green roof on a residence hall; created a swap shop where students can bring in items they don’t want and pick up those they do; and gone paperless at most of its administration buildings.

Stacey Keenan, assistant director of student engagement/outdoor experience and summer programs, said one of the main components of sustainability is educating students to be “conscious consumers.”

“When you have a name like Shenandoah, it’s important we embody that every day,” she said.

The university was also recognized for its Shenandoah University Blue Ridge Institute for Environmental Studies (SU-BRIES), a program of the environmental studies department that focuses on energy conservation and service learning projects and community education on campus and throughout the Shenandoah Valley.

SU-BRIES, created in 1991, is made up of environmental studies faculty and students who take environmental studies courses.

The group has planted a native plants garden and rain garden on campus and performed research and service-learning projects at Shawnee Springs and Abrams Creek Wetlands preserves, Shenandoah tributaries and surrounding land, as well as on local water quality, terrestrial sites, fish and box turtles.

In 2010, students in the program worked with Winchester Parks and Recreation to create an interpretive brochure.

“Students need to connect what they’re learning in the lab to what’s out there in the natural environment,” said Woodward Bousquet, professor of environmental studies and of biology.

The Princeton Review also applauded the university’s downsizing of the campus fleet of service vehicles, its purchase of electric and hybrid vehicles, and its promotion the Winchester Green Circle — a walking and bicycling path designed to connect neighborhoods and points of interest in the city.

— Contact Rebecca Layne at rlayne@winchesterstar.com